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O’Hearn’s grand slam leads Norfolk to 6-3 win

Drew Rom made his season debut, the bullpen was lights out, and Ryan O’Hearn had a big day at the plate as the Tides got back into the win column.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Norfolk Tides 6, Gwinnett Stripers (Braves) 3

As the season wears on, and the Orioles need to fill gaps in their starting rotation, Drew Rom is a name that is likely to pop up more and more. The 23-year-old lefty was added to the 40-man roster over the winter and is now in prime position to prove his ability with a full season at Triple-A Norfolk.

The southpaw made his season debut on Wednesday, and the results were rather pedestrian: five innings, four hits, three runs (all earned), two walks, and three strikeouts. He got into trouble in the second inning, allowing two runs on two singles, one walk, and one hit by pitch. Then he gave up one more run in the fifth inning on two singles and a walk. Ultimately, it was good enough for Rom to leave the game with a lead and earn his first win of the year.

The bullpen was terrific behind Rom. Reed Garrett, Morgan McSweeney, Nick Vespi, and Yennier Cano combined for four shutout innings, five hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts to secure the victory.

Meanwhile, the Norfolk offense had a nice day against Kyle Wright, a 27-year-old righty on a rehab assignment to rejoin the Braves rotation in the near future.

Ryan O’Hearn got things started with a leadoff triple in the second inning. He scored a few pitches later on a Jordan Westburg groundout to half the deficit 2-1.

And it was O’Hearn again in the third inning. The bases were loaded following a trio of singles from Lewin Díaz, Connor Norby, and Joey Ortiz, so O’Hearn unloaded them with a grand slam to left-center field. His third home run on the young season gave the Tides a 5-2 advantage.

Norfolk scored once more via the long ball when Díaz launched a solo shot to right field in the bottom of the seventh inning to give us our final score of 6-3.

The left-handed hitting corner infielders that Mike Elias brought into spring training led the offense on this night. O’Hearn, Díaz, and Josh Lester each had two hits. Colton Cowser walked twice at the top of the lineup. Connor Norby and Joey Ortiz both singled and scored a run.

Something else worth pointing out in the lineup was the Norby’s defensive position. He ceded his normal second base role to Westburg and instead started in left field. This isn’t entirely new. Norby played left field on 11 occasions last summer and did so at three different minor league levels. But it will be interesting to see how often the Orioles put him out there in 2023 as he gets closer to a potential MLB debut.

For Westburg it was his first regular season action at second base, a position that may have more playing time available in Baltimore this season than anywhere on the left side of the infield.

Wednesday was Norfolk’s final day alone down on the farm. Thursday promises our first full slate of minor league action, although rain in the forecast could put a damper on that.

Box Score

Today’s Schedule

  • Norfolk: vs. Gwinnett (Braves), 12:05. SP: Ryan Watson
  • Bowie: at Hartford (Rockies), 7:10. SP: TBD
  • Aberdeen: vs. Wilmington (Nationals), 7:05, SP: TBD
  • Delmarva: Salem (Red Sox), 7:05., SP: TBD