Toledo Mud Hens 11, Charlotte Knights 7 (box)
Injuries taking their toll at the major league level, as well as the promotion of Casey Mize and Gregory Soto to Double-A Erie, made for an interesting day for starter Spenser Watkins. Original starter Ryan Carpenter was scratched and presumably headed to Detroit to replace Jordan Zimmermann in the Tigers’ rotation. Watkins was thus in a tricky spot, promoted and starting for a new team all in a 24 hour period. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that things didn’t go well on Thursday night. In the end, the Mud Hens’ offensive firepower was enough to make it a moot point.
Watkins went 5 2⁄3 innings, and allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits and two walks, and yet he came away with a victory in his Triple-A debut. Going up against a quality pitching prospect in Dylan Cease, the offense scored in every inning but the fifth and the ninth, piling up 17 hits and two walks, including home runs by Harold Castro and Bobby Wilson. Castro in particular had a huge night, collecting five RBI with a two-run double in the first, and a three-run shot, his third, in the fourth inning. Eduardo Jimenez and Caleb Thielbar smothered the Knights with 3 1⁄3 innings of shutout relief work to wrap this one up.
W. Castro: 4-6, 2 R, RBI
H. Castro: 2-3, 2 R, 5 RBI, HR, 2B, SO
Lester: 2-6, R, RBI, 2B, 2 SO
Watkins (W, 1-0): 5.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 H, 2 BB, 5 SO
Coming Up Next: The Hens travel to Gwinnett to take on the Stripers on Friday. Beau Burrows takes a 2.84 ERA into the matchup set for 7:05pm ET.
Charlotte Stone Crabs 2, Lakeland Flying Tigers 1 (box)
For six innings, Jesus Rodriguez cruised through the Stripers lineup with extreme efficiency. He cracked in the seventh, allowing two runs, but recovered to finish the inning and pitch a clean eighth as well, needing only 82 pitches to do so. He struck out four while allowing seven hits and a walk. Jordy Mercer was in the lineup on rehab assignment, and he led off the fourth inning by drawing a walk. Brady Policelli moved Mercer to third with a double to left field, and Mercer scored on a passed ball. That was the extent of the Flygers offense as the Stone Crabs pitching and defense was on point as well.
Policelli: 1-4, 2B, 3 SO
Mercer: 0-3, R, BB, SO
Rodriguez (L, 0-3): 8.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, BB, 4 SO
Coming Up Next: The Flying Tigers will look to even the four-game set on Friday night at 6:30pm ET.
West Michigan Whitecaps 10, Lake County Captains 9 (F/10)(box)
For three innings, lefty Adam Wolf was on fire. The ‘Caps starter punched out eight in just 3 1⁄3 innings of work, but there’s a reason he didn’t get further into the game. Wolf melted down for six earned runs in the fourth inning, blowing a 4-0 lead. Fortunately the offense picked him right back up. John Valente was hit by a pitch with one out in the fourth, and three consecutive singles produced two runs to knot the game at 6-6.
The teams traded single runs in the sixth, but when the Captains plated two runs off of Angel Reyes in the top of eighth, momentum seemed in Lake County’s favor. The Whitecaps disagreed. They plated a run in the eighth, and then forced extra innings when Valente singled home Jose King who’d led off with a walk. In the 10th inning, with Jordan Pearce placed at second base, Ulrich Bojarski moved him to third with a soft single and a Wenceel Perez grounder to shortstop allowed Pearce to race home with the game-winner.
Ames: 3-4, R, 3 RBI, HR, SO
Bojarski: 4-5, 2 R, RBI
Valente: 2-5, 2 R, RBI, HBP
Wolf: 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, BB, 8 SO
Coming Up Next: The two clubs meet up at 6:35pm ET on Friday night. Wilkel Hernandez will take on the Captains’ Luis Oviedo.