Erie SeaWolves 9, Richmond Flying Squirrels 3 (box)
Step aside, Mud Hens. Erie gets top billing in our daily minor league report the rest of the way. Coming into this first round of the Eastern League postseason, I couldn’t help be reminded of the Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal rotation monster that stalked the mound at UPMC Park throughout the 2019 season when each was developing into blue chip pitching prospects. Reese Olson, Ty Madden, and Wilmer Flores isn’t quite on the same level, but that’s still a pretty nasty 1-2-3 to run out in a short playoff series.
Reese Olson got the start in this one, and he was outstanding once again. The right-hander carved up the Squirrels for five innings, allowing a solo shot but no more while punching out nine on the night. Olson’s fastball-changeup combination did most of the work as he set the franchise postseason strikeout record. He mixed in his sweeping slider for whiffs as well, though it wasn’t particularly sharp in this one.
Olson did see a bit of traffic on the bases, and in a postseason best-of-two series, the pressure is on from the first pitch. He struck out Shane Matheny to open the game, but then allowed a Tyler Fitzgerald triple that set Richmond up to take an early lead. They could not score him, however, as Olson whiffed Diego Rincones and Will Wilson back-to-back to strand Fitzgerald at third.
Brandon Martorano launched a deep drive for a solo shot, the only run Olson would allow, in the second inning. He responded by punching out the side in the third. The only real threat of a rally came as Olson’s pitch count spiraled in the fifth due to the strikeouts and lack of quick outs. Martorano walked, the only one Olson would allow, with one out in the fifth, and Carter Aldrete followed with a single. A ground out left runners at first and third with two outs, and made this fine play on a swinging bunt to escape the inning unscathed.
Game 1 belongs to the @erie_seawolves!— Detroit Tigers Player Development (@RoadtoDetroit) September 21, 2022
The @tigers No. 9 prospect per @MLBPipeline, Reese Olson, strikes out a franchise record nine batters in a playoff game to lead his team to a 9-3 victory. pic.twitter.com/SAUvbsiZpj
After the Squirrels opened the scoring in the second, the SeaWolves’ offense quickly back Olson with a little run support to seize the lead. Danny Serretti, who has jumped from Low-A to Double-A over the past couple weeks, singled with one out and scored on a Gage Workman double to tie the game. In the bottom of the third, Dane Myers led off with a walk, stole second, and eventually scored on a Quincy Nieporte single to make it 2-1 Erie after three innings.
The momentum of the game finally shifted fully to the SeaWolves in the fifth. Olson escaped a little jam, and the lineup came out and took it to Richmond in the bottom half.
Myers led off with a double, and Andrew Navigato followed with one of his own to drive him in. Parker Meadows singled Navigato to third and Nieporte was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Josh Crouch grounded into a double play, with Navigato cut down at home plate, but Mr. Serretti had everyone’s back, unloading for a three-run blast, his first with the SeaWolves, to blow the game open.
A Navigato error in the sixth led to an unearned run against reliever Brendan White, making it 6-2, but in the eighth the SeaWolves put the game away with another offensive outburst.
Walks to Serretti and then a one out walk to Workman set the table, and Myers cleared them both with a two-run single. Navigato and Meadows followed with singles of their own, and it was 9-2. A ninth inning run against Gerson Moreno in relief meant little, and the SeaWolves wrapped up a game one victory.
Here’s how it ended in front of a packed house at UPMC Park.
Serretti: 3-3, 3 R, 3 RBI, HR, BB
Myers: 2-4, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2B, BB, SO, SB
Meadows: 2-5, R, RBI, 2 SO
Navigato: 4-5, RBI, 2 2B, SO
Olson (W, 1-0): 5.0 IP, ER, 4 H, BB, 9 SO
Coming Up Next: The best-of-three series shifts to Richmond for the next two games, with an off day on Wednesday. RHP Ty Madden will take on the San Francisco Giants top pitching prospect RHP Keaton Winn at 6:35 p.m. EDT on Thursday night. New Tigers President of Baseball Ops, Scott Harris, will no doubt be keenly interested in this one.
Toledo Mud Hens 3, Columbus Clippers 3 (delayed)
They made it 10 innings in this one before rain finally forced them to delay the conclusion until Wednesday.
RHP Austin Bergner got the start, but allowed two runs in four innings of work. After he leaked a pair of runs in the top of the second, the Mud Hens came back with one courtesy of a Jamie Westbrook RBI single to score Andre Lipcius. In the seventh, a two-run double from Kody Clemens put them ahead 3-2, but Drew Carlson allowed a run in the eighth as Columbus tied things up.
A 12:05 p.m. EDT start on Wednesday will have to wait for the conclusion of this one, as play will resume with the top of the 11th inning.