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Orioles minor league recap 8/23: Pitching dominates throughout minors as all affiliates win

From Cade Povich at Norfolk to Juan Rojas for Delmarva, Orioles’ minor league pitchers were on fire Tuesday as they combined to only allow two runs across four games.

Baltimore Orioles Photo Day Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Triple-A: Norfolk Tides 6, Durham Bulls (Rays) 1

Cade Povich bounced back from his worst start of the season with his best outing as a Tide helping Norfolk roll past the Bulls. After giving up nine runs over 1.2 innings in his last start, Povich came out of the gate strong against Durham. He didn’t allow a hit until the 6th inning and constantly kept Bulls hitters off balance. Povich racked up five Ks over the first five innings and continually worked himself out of any trouble he created with his five walks.

The one hit Povich did give up was a solo HR that finally put the Bulls on the board in the 6th. However, at that point Norfolk was already ahead 2-0 and Povich came back to strike out the last two batters he faced. His final line was an impressive six innings, one hit, one run, five BBs and seven Ks—the seven strikeouts a new Triple-A high for Povich.

After a scoreless first two innings, the Tides got on the board on a Lewin Díaz solo HR in the 3rd. Norfolk doubled that lead in the 4th when Heston Kjerstad led off the inning with a single and came around to score on a Joey Ortiz double. The Tides then put the game away with four insurance runs in the bottom of the 7th. After a leadoff single from Díaz and José Godoy walk, Colton Cowser sacrificed them over to second and third to give Norfolk a one-out scoring threat. Connor Norby wasted no time delivering on that threat, as the very next at-bat he singled to center to bring home Díaz and Godoy. Singles from Kjerstad and Kyle Stowers allowed Norfolk to put up two more runs and push the lead out of the reach of a stifled Durham offense.

Box Score

Double-A: Bowie Baysox 5, Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 0

Starter Connor Gillispie and two relievers combined to shut out the SeaWolves in a dominant win for the Baysox. Gillispie made a habit of working out of trouble in his five innings of work. He issued two walks in the first inning, but forced an inning-ending double play to escape the jam unscathed. Erie came back with two singles in the bottom of the 2nd, but again left a runner stranded a second when Gillispie struck out catcher Julio E. Rodriguez.

Gillispie went on to work a perfect 3rd inning with two Ks, but ran into trouble again in the 4th. After Erie shortstop Corey Joyce reached on a two-out error, third baseman Luis Santana doubled to give the Seawolves runners and second and third with two outs. However, Gillispie forced a pop up to end the inning and leave two runners stranded in scoring position.

His final Houdini act came in the bottom of the 5th. After getting two quick outs, Gillispie gave up back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases. He then picked up his final strikeout of his outing, leaving the bases loaded and the Seawolves off the scoreboard. Relievers Kade Strowd and Conner Loeprich worked the final four innings and allowed only one baserunner as they completed the shutout.

Offensively, the Baysox jumped on the SeaWolves early and never looked back. John Rhodes led off the top of the 2nd with a double, then scored on a Donta’ Williams double. That one-run lead ballooned to three in the 3rd inning when Max Wagner launched a two-run homer to left. Bowie tacked on two insurance runs in the 7th, thanks to a leadoff double from Greg Cullen followed by a Maxwell Costes single and a Jackson Holliday double.

Box Score

High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds 3, Hudson Valley Renegades (Yankees) 1

Continuing with the organizational theme from Tuesday, Aberdeen got an excellent outing from starter Kyle Virbitsky to earn a low-scoring win over Hudson Valley. The 24-year-old right hander from Penn State came to the Orioles as part of the Cole Irvin trade, and against the Renegades he delivered the best performance of his IronBirds career. He worked into the 7th inning for the first time all season and consistently overmatched Hudson Valley’s hitters. The only hit Virbitsky allowed came in the bottom of the 1st and only one runner all game reached second base for the Renegades.

While their starter was dominating on the mound, the IronBirds offense took a while to take flight. They finally got on the board in the 4th inning, as Samuel Basallo reached base on a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Ryan Higgins single. The IronBirds tacked on two insurance runs in the 7th thanks to more timely hitting from Higgins. Carter Young led off the 7th with a walk and immediately scored when Higgins doubled down the left field line. Later, with two outs, Anthony Servideo served a single into right field to bring home Higgins for the third run.

The IronBirds would need those insurance runs, as reliever Dylan Heid wasn’t quite as sharp as Virbitsky once he took over in the 8th. After striking out the first batter he faced, Heid allowed a single, walk and single in consecutive plate appearances to give Hudson Valley its first run. Heid locked in after that, getting the next batter to line into a double play and then working a perfect 9th inning to close out the game.

Box Score

Low-A: Delmarva Shorebirds 8, Lynchburg Hillcats (Guardians) 0

The Shorebirds stuck with the theme of the night, putting forth another excellent pitching performance in their win over Lynchburg. Juan Rojas got the start for Delmarva and put up his best outing of the season. The 19-year-old from Venezuela—who came to the Orioles in the Jorge López trade—completed five innings for the first time in his Low-A career and never got rattled when runners got on. Despite giving up four hits and a walk, Rojas never allowed more than one hit in any inning and only one of the base runners he allowed reached second base.

The left-hander also got to pitch with the comfort of having a lead from the 1st inning onward. In the top of the 1st, 2023 first round pick Enrique Bradfield Jr. led off the game with a walk and later scored on a Stiven Acevedo two-run HR.

The runs continued to come in bunches for the Shorebirds when they put up another two-spot in the 4th. Recent draft pick Matthew Etzel was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, stole second, and scored on a balk, increasing the Delmarva lead to 3-0. Acevedo then scored another run when Jalen Vasquez singled him home from second.

The Shorebirds continued to run wild on the basepaths in the 7th, helping them add three more runs to their ballooning lead. Adam Crampton reached on a two-out single and stole second. Then Bradfield worked another walk and then he and Crampton stole second and third. After Tavian Josenberger walked to load the bases, Etzel worked the third straight walk to bring home a run. Acevedo then capped off the rally with a single that scored Bradfield and Josenberger. The Shorebirds added their final run in the 8th when Vasquez reached on a throwing error and later came around to score on a wild pitch.

Box Score

Wednesday’s scheduled games

  • Norfolk Tides vs. Durham Bulls, 6:35pm ET. Justin Armbruester vs. TBD
  • Bowie Baysox at Erie SeaWolves, 6:05 pm ET. TBD vs. TBD
  • Aberdeen IronBirds at Hudson Valley Renegades, 7:05pm ET. TBD vs. Justin Lange
  • Delmarva Shorebirds at Lynchburg Hillcats, 6:30pm ET. Deivy Cruz vs. TBD