It was an off day for the Cleveland Indians and Akron RubberDucks yesterday, so it was up to three of team's farm teams to make things exciting. Two of them succeeded, anyway. Whether you prefer close battles that come down to the wire or a good old fashion blowout, April 28 had just about everything for you in the minors.
The big winner of the day was Lake County's Willi Castro, who recorded four hits (including his first home run of the season) in the Captains' blowout win over the Burlngton BEEEEEES. Besides Castro in Class-A, an unlikely hero came through in Triple-A for Columbus.
Columbus Clippers 5, Charlotte Knights 4
Box Score · Clippers improve to 13-7
A win is a win is a win, even if it requires every single at-bat of the game to accomplish it. For the second-straight night, the Columbus Clippers won in exciting walk-off fashion. This time it was a pair of unlikely heroes providing the theatrics.
The Charlotte Knights did not hold a lead until they scored three runs on four straight hits in the sixth inning. A bit of back-and-forth later and the Clippers were in the bottom of the ninth down 4-3. That is when newly-promoted shortstop Eric Stamets was hit by a pitch, Michael Martinez tripled to score him, then Collin Cowgill hit a single to score Martinez and end the game. It only took three batters for the Clippers to win over Knights reliever Brad Goldberg.
Collin Cowgill had a great night overall, going 3-for-5 with that game-winning run batted in. Outfielder Joey Buter was solid was well, going 2-for-4 with a strikeout. The only position player to not register a hit was Stamets, but getting hit by a pitch was enough to put him in a position to score the tying run in the ninth, anyway.
Columbus starting pitcher Ryan Merritt had a solid outing, throwing 6.1 innings and striking out seven. Merritt threw 92 pitches total, 65 of which found the strike zone.
Lynchburg Hillcats 1, Winston-Salem Dash 4
Box Score · Hillcats fall to 16-5
Do not adjust your computer monitors. The Lynchburg Hillcats actually lost a game with Justus Sheffield on the mound.
In a very Corey Kluber-esque display, Sheffield looked great through the first few innings, dominant even, but he was not getting much run support. It all came crashing down a bit in the fourth when he allowed a single, a walk, and then a home run to bring everyone home. At that point, the Hillcats were down 3-1 and they were held scoreless the rest of the game.
Sheffield finished the day with four strikeouts, three walks, and four earned runs in 6.0 innings of work, his worst outing of the season. For most 19-year-olds in High-A, that is probably considered a good day.
The Lynchburg offense was held to just five hits on the day, and eight baserunners were left stranded. Mike Papi contributed a single while Bobby Bradley added a double and struck out once.
Lake County Captains 10, Burlington Bees 1
Box Score· Captains improve to 14-7
With the Hillcats losing, someone in the Indians organization had to step up and blow out their opponent. Enter the Lake County Captains.
On the back of Willi Castro's superb four-hit effort, the Captains locked up their series win over the Burlington Bees and improved upon their Midwest League-best 13-7 record. Castro also finished the game with a double, a home run, and four of the team's nine runs batted in. He was not the only offensive contributor, however, as designated hitter Yonathan Mendoza also added three hits and an RBI in the win.
After a rough outing last week, Thomas Pannone is back to being great in 2016. He allowed just four hits and struck out six over his five innings of work. Pannone's 2.25 earned run average is the best among Captains starters and in the upper echelon of starters in the entire Midwest League.