Lights out: Tyler Johnson was excellent in his relief appearance to help secure the Barons victory. (Hannah Stone/Birmingham Barons)
Odrisamer Despaigne (SP): 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 7 K (3.53 ERA)
Danny Mendick (3B): 1-for-4, 2B (.281 BA, .817 OPS)
Luis Robert (CF): 1-for-3, RBI, (.303 BA, .998 OPS)
Nick Madrigal (2B): 1-for-4, (.309 BA, .798 OPS)
Zack Collins (C): 1-for-4, HR (.291 BA, .970 OPS) *MVP*
Daniel Palka (DH): 1-for-3, BB (.271 BA, .926 OPS)
Journeyman Odrisamer Despaigne got the start, and he put the Knights in an early deficit that they could not overcome. Old friend Emilio Bonifacio got an RBI single in the second to put the Bulls on the board for the first run for either team. Despaigne also ran into trouble in the fourth, allowing back-to-back hits to open the inning. The Bulls drove in both of those runners to expand their lead to 3-0.
The Knights got on the board during their half of the fourth, as Luis Robert hit a sacrifice fly to drive in fellow 2020 major leaguer Nick Madrigal. Unfortunately, the Knights could not get any more runs until the latter innings, and by then, it was too little, too late.
Reliever Hunter Schryver had a forgettable outing that put this game out of reach. In one and two-thirds innings, Schryver issued five walks and allowed three runs, all earned. Entering the bottom of the ninth, the Knights trailed 7-2, and they could not put together a monster rally to claw back into the game. However, before it ended, Zack Collins hit a solo shot, his 18th homer of the season.
Blake Battenfield (SP) 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 3 K (4.47 ERA)
Zach Remillard (3B): 1-for-3, 2 BB, RBI (.284 BA, .826 OPS)
Blake Rutherford (LF): 0-for-3, BB, RBI, (.297 BA, .987 OPS)
Damek Tomscha (DH): 2-for-4, 2 RBI (.318 BA, .822 OPS)
Gavin Sheets (1B): 1-for-2, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, (.295 BA, .975 OPS) *MVP*
Joel Booker (LF): 0-for-2, 2 BB, SB (.244 BA, .609 OPS)
The Barons were the only team in the system that managed to score three runs, and mercy, they broke that threshold by a lot. This was a high-scoring game in which both offenses got going early on.
The Smokies got on the board in the bottom of the first on an RBI triple by shortstop Zach Short. A double by Luis Valenzuela in the second tied it, and Damek Tomscha put the Barons ahead in the third with a double that drove in a pair. However, the Smokies rallied in the latter portion of starter Blake Battenfield’s outing, and they also got to reliever Danny Dopico to go up, 5-3.
The Barons’ bats got quiet toward the middle of the game, but they did not go down easily. After drawing four walks in the top of the eighth to force in a run, the Barons cut the deficit to one. Then, Blake Rutherford hit a sacrifice fly, which was the second out of the inning, but it tied the game at five. The following hitter was Gavin Sheets, who launched a three-run homer to give the Barons a lead that they would not relinquish.
Relievers Tyler Johnson and Codi Heuer both held the Smokies scoreless to shut the door and secure the 8-5 victory.
Zach Lewis (SP): 6 2/3 IP, 7 H, 4 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 6 K (5.82 ERA)
Andrew Vaughn (DH): 0-for-3, BB (.226 BA, .711 OPS)
Craig Dedelow (LF): 0-for-3 (.246 BA, .740 OPS)
Steele Walker (CF): 1-for-4, (.280 BA, .792 OPS)
Tyler Frost (RF): 1-for-3, BB (.249 BA, .735 OPS)
Andrew Perez (RP): 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (1.23 ERA) *MVP*
The Dash could not get anything going on offense, so the pitching staff had an extremely tall order to fill. Starting pitcher Zach Lewis was effective on the mound for most of the evening. He ate quite a few innings and limited sharp contact during most of them. Lewis made it through six having only allowed two runs, but he ran into trouble in the seventh to miss out on the quality start. The only other Dash pitcher to appear in this game was Andrew Perez, who was lights out in his two and one-third innings.
Meanwhile, Salem’s pitchers were terrific, as the Dash only managed two hits. Steele Walker and Tyler Frost got the only hits for the Dash, both singles. Scoring opportunities were hard to come by, and the Dash could not take advantage of the few chances they had. They finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Onward.
Jason Bilous (SP): 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 4 BB, 7 K (3.53 ERA)
Corey Zangari (1B): 1-for-4, 2B (.205 BA, .750 OPS)
Michael Hickman (C): 1-for-4, 2B (.200 BA, .607 OPS)
Ian Dawkins (CF): 0-for-3, BB (.301 BA, .763 OPS)
Alex Destino (RF): 1-for-4, (.299 BA, .859 OPS)
Cameron Simmons (LF): 1-for-4, (.241 BA, .674 OPS)
Justin O’Conner (RP): 1 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 8.10 ERA *MVP*
Another game, another decent performance by a starting pitcher who barely missed a quality start, another reliever who was effective enough to earn MVP honors, and very little offense. It feels like I have recapped this one before.
Starter Jason Bilous missed a lot of bats, but control was a problem, as he issued four walks. Reliever Justin O’Conner faced five batters and retired all of them, two via strikeout. Only one of his opposing hitters managed to hit a ball to the outfield.
The Intimidators struggled to put any kind of a rally together. They finished 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and their only run scored on a Hagerstown error.
Great Falls Voyagers
The Voyagers had the day off and will travel to Idaho Falls for a three-game series against the Chukars. The first game of that series will start on Tuesday at 8:15 CST.