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Orioles minor league recap 5/3: Cowser and Ortiz lead Norfolk to a win over rival Durham

The offensive explosion for Norfolk provided the only win in the minor league system Tuesday, as Aberdeen lost in extras.

Baltimore Orioles v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Triple-A: Norfolk Tides 12, Durham Bulls (Rays) 8

In the first of six games between the International League’s top two teams, Norfolk’s offense led them to a high-scoring win. The Tides raced out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to a two-run homer from outfielder Colton Cowser in the bottom of the first. It was Cowser’s fourth home run in his last 10 games, a stretch where he’s hit .375 with a 1.440 OPS. A solo homer from designated hitter Shayne Fontana stretched the lead to 2-0 before Cowser started another rally in the bottom of the third.

With the Tides up 3-2, Terrin Vavra and Connor Norby started off the inning with back-to-back singles. Cowser then doubled to right to score Vavra and jump-start a big inning for Norfolk. Josh Lester would follow up with a sac fly to score Norby and move Cowser to third. The Tides then got lucky, as Joey Ortiz hit a ground ball that should’ve been the third out, but an error allowed Ortiz to reach and Cowser to score. After the three-run third, the Tides headed into the fourth up 6-2.

Durham dominated the middle innings, as they scored in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh, allowing them to tie the game at 7-7. The Tides would need one final big inning to seal the win and found it in the bottom of the seventh. Vavra, Norby and Cowser started off the inning by loading the bases on a walk and back-to-back singles. Jordan Westburg then walked in a run to put Norfolk back on top 8-7. Lester would follow things up with another sac fly before Ortiz put the exclamation point on the inning with a three-run home run to right field, breaking things open and giving Norfolk a 12-7 lead.

Durham added another run in the eighth, and started the top of the ninth with a leadoff walk. Nick Vespi came in to close things out and worked a perfect inning with two strikeouts to earn the save. Catcher Anthony Bemboom was the only Tides player to not record a hit, and Cowser and Ortiz were the true tempo setters, as they finished a combined 5-8 with a HR each, seven total RBIs, four runs scored and 12 total bases. Undoubtedly, Cowser and Ortiz are high on the shortlist for the next position players that get called up to Baltimore.

Box Score

Double-A: Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 6, Bowie Baysox 2

Starter Chayce McDermott and the Baysox got off to a rough start and couldn’t quite recover in their loss to Erie. McDermott gave up a leadoff walk in the top of the first and SeaWolves catcher Colt Keith immediately made him pay with a two-run homer. McDermott looked to limit the damage and almost got out of the inning, but gave up a two-out solo shot to outfielder Grant Witherspoon to give Erie an early 3-0 lead.

The Baysox would get a run back in the fourth inning, as Coby Mayo walked and then moved up to second base on a SeaWolves error. Catcher Ramon Rodriguez then drove Mayo home with a two-out single to center field, cutting the Erie lead to 3-1. However, the SeaWolves restored the three-run lead in the sixth, as the home run bug bit Bowie again. Erie catcher Dillon Dingler launched a 2-2 pitch from Dillon Tate over the left-field fence, giving the SeaWolves a 4-1 lead.

The Baysox got a run back in the bottom of the sixth on John Rhodes' sac fly, but never got any closer. Tate allowed two more base runners to reach in the seventh before giving way to Xavier Moore with two on and two out. Moore gave up a single to the first batter he faced, plating two more runs and sealing the game for Erie.

Despite the early struggles, McDermott was the standout performer for Bowie. He rebounded in the second inning, striking out the side. Overall McDermott only allowed one more hit after the first inning and finished the game with seven Ks. Rodriguez was the Baysox’ offensive star, finishing 2-4 with an RBI. Outfielder Heston Kjerstad finished the game 1-5 with his second triple of the season.

Box Score

High-A: Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets) 4, Aberdeen IronBirds 3

The IronBirds suffered heartbreak Tuesday night in a walkoff, extra-innings loss to Brooklyn. Aberdeen fell behind early, as a walk and a single in the bottom of the first turned into the first run of the game after a sac fly from Brooklyn outfielder Stanley Consuegra. The IronBirds got that run back in the top of the second, as a double from designated hitter Isaac Bellony drove in first baseman Andrew Retzbach to tie the game 1-1.

The Cyclones would retake the lead in the bottom of the second, as a throwing error from catcher Silas Ardoin on a stolen base attempt at third allowed Brooklyn to score its second run. Two innings later, third baseman Isaac De Leon tied the game once again, driving in outfielder Dylan Beavers on a double to left.

While the IronBirds consistently showed the ability to come back and tie things, they never found a way to take the lead. Brooklyn catcher Kevin Parada led off the bottom of the sixth with a double. He then came around to score on an RBI single from shortstop William Lugo, giving Brooklyn a 3-2 lead. The Cyclones would stay on top until the top of the ninth. Aberdeen outfielder Luis Valdez reached on a throwing error and then scored after a Jud Fabian single and a throwing error from Consuegra. With Fabian on third and two outs and the chance to take the lead, Jackson Holliday struck out to end the inning.

In the 10th, a couple of walks left the IronBirds with the bases loaded and two outs. They again failed to capitalize as Bellony popped out to second on a 3-2 pitch. Brooklyn was then able to walk things off in the bottom of the 10th, as a wild pitch allowed the Manfred Man to move to third and then score on a leadoff single.

Box Score

Low-A: Carolina Mudcats 9 (Brewers), Delmarva Shorebirds 7

In a back-and-forth affair in Salisbury, Carolina got the last laugh with a big seventh inning that sealed the win. Starter Juan Nunez worked around a walk in the first with two Ks and a caught stealing. Nunez then got away with giving up a one-out single in the second by ending the inning on a strike’em out, throw’em out double play. The 22-year-old Dominican couldn’t keep the high-wire act going in the third, as the first two batters reached on an error and a walk. A single and another error would see Carolina score its first runs before a double steal of second and home made things 3-0.

The Shorebirds responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the third. Designated hitter and second baseman Luis Gonzalez and Adam Crampton led off the inning by reaching on a walk and hit by pitch. Outfielder Stiven Acevedo then tied the game on a three-run homer launched to left field.

The game went quiet again in the fourth, before another offensive explosion in the fifth. Reliever Cesar Alvarez replaced Nunez, quickly got two outs but then walked the next two batters. After a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, Carolina first baseman Luke Adams singled to give the Mudcats a 5-3 lead. The Shorebirds responded immediately, leading off the bottom of the inning with two singles before shortstop Carter Young grounded out to short to drive in a run. After another single from Acevedo, third baseman Anderson De Los Santos doubled to bring in two more runs and give the Shorebirds a 6-5 lead.

That lead would last until the seventh, when Delmarva finally dug itself a hole it couldn’t get out of. After back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, catcher Matthew Wood hit a three-run homer to give Carolina a 8-6 lead. The Mudcats would add another run later in the inning on an RBI single, before turning it over to Delmarva for a response. While Acevedo hit his second HR in the bottom of the seventh, a solo shot, that was the only run the Shorebirds would muster for the rest of the game. Acevedo was the star of the night for Delmarva with the two HRs, three total hits, four RBIs and three runs scored.

Box Score

Wednesday’s scheduled games

  • Norfolk Tides vs. Durham Bulls, 6:35pm ET. Drew Rom vs. Elvin Rodriguez
  • Bowie Baysox vs. Erie SeaWolves, 6:35pm ET. TBD vs. TBD
  • Aberdeen IronBirds at Brooklyn Cyclones, 7:00pm ET. Jean Pinto vs. Jeffrey Colon
  • Delmarva Shorebirds vs. Carolina Mudcats, 7:05pm ET. Alfred Vega vs. TBD