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Orioles minor league recap 4/26: Jordan Westburg’s grand slam propels Norfolk to victory

The Tides were the only winners Tuesday night, as Jackson Holliday also made his debut with Aberdeen

MLB: MAR 07 Spring Training - Orioles at Twins Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Triple-A: Norfolk Tides 9, Charlotte Knights (White Sox) 5

Jordan Westburg’s third-inning grand slam gave the Tides a lead they would never relinquish, as they went on to a win against Charlotte, their 16th of the season. With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the third, Norfolk loaded the bases on three straight walks of Colton Cowser, Connor Norby and Kyle Stowers. Then Westburg rocketed a 3-1 pitch to CF, opening up a 5-1 Tides lead and giving the third baseman his fourth home run of the season.

Not to be outdone by his fellow top prospect, Cowser launched a two-run home run of his own in the seventh inning, which pushed the Norfolk lead to 7-2. The long ball was Cowser’s fourth in his last 10 games, during which time he is hitting .405 with a 1.316 OPS and 10 RBIs. Cowser would add a third RBI Tuesday night with an RBI groundout in the eighth inning. He and Westburg both had cases for player of the game honors, as Cowser finished 1-3 with two runs scored, three RBIs and two walks. Westburg went 3-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored.

The ninth inning brought some moments of nervousness as the Tides looked to close out the game. Chris Vallimont walked the first two batters before striking out the next two. He then gave up a run on a single to bring the Knights within four runs. Logan Gillaspie would come in and—after walking the bases loaded—he struck out outfielder Jake Marisnick to earn the save and close out the win.

Box score

Double-A: Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants) 4, Bowie Baysox 2

Bowie continued a slow start to their season Tuesday night, as Richmond came from behind to hand the Baysox their 10th loss in 15 games. Things started out well for Bowie, as they took an early 2-0 lead in the third inning. After a Coby Mayo GIDP erased a leadoff walk from Heston Kjerstad, César Prieto singled and stole second. Zach Watson then doubled to drive in Prieto and John Rhodes singled in Watson to give Bowie their first—and only—pair of runs.

Despite recently snapping his hitting streak, Prieto continues to show an incredibly hot bat for the Baysox. Over his last 10 games, the Cuban infielder is hitting .400 with a .442 OBP. In what proved to be a relatively quiet offensive game for the Baysox, Prieto led the way by going 2-4 with a stolen base and a run scored.

Bowie would maintain its lead into the seventh inning but couldn’t see it out for a win. After giving up a run in the fifth to make it 2-1, Chayce McDermott started the seventh by allowing a leadoff double followed by a walk. Richmond then loaded the bases on a one-out single before another single squeaked through the infield to tie the game at two. A pair of solo HRs in the eighth would see the Flying Squirrels take the lead for good, as Bowie couldn’t mount a comeback in the bottom of the eighth or ninth innings.

The bullpen’s letdown overshadowed a great start from 2019 29th-round pick Houston Roth. The former Ole Miss Rebel tossed four strong innings, only allowing two base runners and striking out five.

Box score

High-A: Wilmington Blue Rocks (Nationals) 7, Aberdeen IronBirds 3

The debut of Jackson Holliday at High-A wasn’t enough to get the IronBirds a win, as they fell behind early in their loss to Wilmington. Aberdeen starter Daniel Lloyd began the game by giving up a one-out single in the first; that later turned into a run after two stolen bases and an RBI groundout. The Blue Rocks followed up that RBI fielder’s choice with a two-run homer that gave them an early 3-0 lead.

Things would settle down until the fourth th when Lloyd once again got himself in trouble. A leadoff walk was followed by three straight base hits and after all the damage was done, Aberdeen trailed 6-1. The bullpen was much more effective for the IronBirds as they only allowed one run over four innings, compared to six over four for Lloyd. Reliever Cooper Chandler was particularly dominant, striking out six Blue Rocks over the last three innings of the game.

Offensively the IronBirds didn’t have the production they needed to climb out of the early hole. Dylan Beavers doubled home Aberdeen’s first run in the fourth inning, but after that, the IronBirds wouldn’t score again until the top of the ninth. That mini-rally started in the last inning with a Reed Trimble single. That would later turn into a run after a HBP moved Trimble to second and a throwing error allowed him to score. Holliday then walked to load the bases and Max Wagner walked to force in Aberdeen’s third run. Beavers and Jud Fabian would stop the rally there, ending the game on a strikeout and flyout. Holliday would finish his debut 0-3 with two walks.

Box score

Low-A: Salem Red Sox 5, Delmarva Shorebirds 0

While Jackson Holliday didn’t make a big splash in his debut at High-A, his absence was certainly felt at Low-A where Delmarva was shut out by Salem. The standout player for the Shorebirds on Tuesday was starting pitcher Juan Nunez. The 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic pitched five shutout innings, striking out seven while only allowing one hit. In fact, this game was a pitcher’s duel early on, as both starters combined for 15 Ks in their five scoreless innings.

No one got on the board until the seventh inning. The Red Sox led off the inning with a double off of reliever Edgar Portes. The 20-year-old Dominican then walked the next batter before giving up a three-run home run that broke open the deadlock. Salem would hit a solo home run in the 8th inning and add a run on a sac fly in the 9th to put the game away.

Elio Prado led off the bottom of the 9th with a double, but the next three batters were retired in order to complete the shutout for Salem. Prado led the way among Delmarva hitters, finishing 2-4 with the Shorebirds’ only extra-base hit. The Shorebirds certainly missed early-sensation Creed Willems, as the catcher/first baseman got the day off on Tuesday.

Box score

Wednesday’s scheduled games

  • Norfolk Tides at Charlotte Knights, 11:05am ET. Bruce Zimmermann vs. Daniel Ponce De Leon
  • Bowie Baysox vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels, 6:35pm ET. Connor Gillispie vs. Nick Zwack
  • Aberdeen Ironbirds at Wilmington Blue Rocks, 6:35pm ET. TBD vs. Andrew Alvarez
  • Delmarva Shorebirds vs. Salem Red Sox, 7:05pm ET. Moises Chace vs. Jose Ramirez