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Saturday Pebble Report: The Magic is in Asheville

AAA Colorado Springs – W 4-3, (32-36, 3rd, 9.5 GB)

The Sky Sox offense saw all of its RBI’s and all of its extra base hits come from the bats Matt McBride and Brandon Wood. First, McBride hit a game tying home run in the second inning, his 5th blast of the season; he then had another RBI with a double in the 6th inning that at the time brought Colorado Springs to within a run. Brandon Wood would take care of the rest as he followed that up with a two run home run that would put the Sky Sox on top for good. (#8 PuRP Tim Wheeler also had a 6th inning single to extend his hitting streak to 13 games)

On the mound, Rob Scahill scattered six hits and four walks over five innings to limit Las Vegas to three runs before the scoreless bullpen work of Stephen Dodson, Mike Ekstrom, and Zach Putnam nailed down the win.

AA Tulsa – W 2-1, (38-28, 1st)

Tulsa won its 6th straight game as Parker Frazier had his second consecutive excellent outing since his disaster in Midland at the start of the month. He didn’t take a no hitter into the 7th inning as he did in his last start, (in fact he gave up a hit to the second batter of the game) but he did throw seven shutout innings – A mark he fell just shy of last Sunday. Combined, Frazier has now thrown 13.2 innings while only giving up one run for a 0.66 ERA over these two outings.

The Drillers needed that performance from Frazier too as the offense was held mostly silent by the Arkansas pitching staff. The only runs came in the 5th inning on a #9 PuRP Josh Rutledge sacrifice fly and an Angelys Nina triple. Tulsa had only one hit in that inning, but they got both the runs required to win the game in this frame thanks largely to walks from Tim Torres and Jose Gonzalez.

High-A Modesto – W 6-4, (34-35, 3rd, 6.0 GB)

Nuts starter Craig Bennigson was not good. He put his team in an early hole giving up four runs on seven hits in just three innings. However, the outstanding bullpen work of Kurt Yacko, Isaiah Froneberger, and Adam Jorgenson did not allow another run to cross the plate. They would be rewarded for their effort as the Nuts offense scored in every odd numbered inning except the 9th and slowly but surely piled up six runs on the board.

Brett Tanos had three hits and a home run, #15 PuRP Rafael Ortega was on base three times and had two hits, and #7 PuRP Kyle Parker drew yet another walk, his 8th in his last eight games.

Low-A Asheville – W 5-3, (47-21, 1st)

Sometimes a team just has that magic. They win games they shouldn’t; they come back even after bad things happen, they get production from unlikely sources - Nobody really ever knows exactly how they are doing it or even how long the magic is going to last, but when your team goes on one of these runs, it’s an absolute joy to watch. The Ashville Tourists (in addition to being very good to begin with) have that magic right now; and it was on full display again last night.

Leading 2-1 going into the bottom of the 8th inning, the game seemed to come apart for Ashville. They would give up three hits, three stolen bases, and make two throwing errors in the inning. When the smoke cleared, they trailed 3-2 and were only not in a larger hole because Michael Wolford struck out the last two Lexington hitters of the inning. It looked like an ugly loss was on the way; but these are the 2012 Ashville Tourists, and they just don’t lose games like that.

Tyler Massey began the 9th by smacking a double to right to give the Tourists a chance to tie the game, Jared Simon followed that up with an opposite field line drive single that was hit so hard, it prevented Massey from scoring. The moment now belonged to #11 PuRP Rosell Herrera. (Yes, the same Rosell Herrera who entered last night’s game with a .554 OPS, a .277 OBP, and a grand total of zero home runs on the season.) He was exactly the guy Lexington would want up in this situation, or so they thought. Herrera found a pitch he liked, launched a deep fly ball to right field, and provided a game winning home run for the Tourists. The magic carpet ride continues for this team.

The only real negative thing that happened here was the continuation of Trevor Story's slump. The #12 PuRP now has just a .428 OPS in his last nine games.

Tri-City – L 2-1, (0-1, T- 1st)

The Dust Devils opened their 2012 campaign last night with a loss despite outhitting the Everett Aqua Sox five to two. Tri-City did draw first blood as Dillon Thomas came around to score after his second inning double, but the offense couldn’t muster any more runs after that. (Charlie Blackmon made a rehab start in this game. He went 0-2 out of the DH spot)

DSL Rockies – L 10-6 (10 Innings), (7-5)

This was a bitter pill to swallow for the DSL Rockies as they were in complete control of this game early. 17 year old starter Antonio Senzatela threw five scoreless innings while the offense pieced together a comfortable 6-0 lead. They were threatening to make that lead even larger but Yonathan Daza grounded out to leave the bases loaded in the 5th. It was a missed opportunity the Rockies would deeply regret as they would give up three in the 7th, three in the 8th, and four in the 10th while the offense didn’t even get a single man past first base in the last four innings.

Odd Stat of the Day: Yesterday, the Rockies organization had seven teams in action (including the MLB club) and two of them played games that went to extra innings. Amazingly, the five teams that did not go to extra innings all saw their matchups decided by two runs or less while the two teams who did go to extra innings both saw their games decided by four runs or more.

Looking Ahead: #13 PuRP Edwar Cabrera takes the mound tonight for the Drillers as he tries to back up his seven shutout inning performance from Monday’s game.