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8/17/05 - Minor League Articles

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No ammunition: Charlotte clobbers short-handed Hens

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Toledo catcher Sandy Martinez can’t hold on to the ball as Ross Gload scores Charlotte’s 10th run of the game in the fourth inning. Eight players scored for the Knights.

( THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH )

By DAVE HACKENBERG

BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Mud Hens were ill equipped for a slugfest last night.

Just 24 hours after Toledo and Charlotte battled through 8 1/2 scoreless innings before the Hens squeezed out a 1-0 win, the same teams combined for 23 runs and 28 hits at Fifth Third Field.

Toledo ended up very much on the short end of those numbers, losing 14-9 on a night when two of its big hitters were on the bench nursing what are believed to be minor injuries.

Marcus Thames and Ryan Raburn, each with 17 home runs, sat this one out and left Toledo manager Larry Parrish hoping for a low-scoring game.

He didn't get it as Charlotte claimed a split of the two-game series by jumping to an 11-2 lead after 3 1/2 innings.

"If you had told me before the game that we'd score nine runs, with the way [Jason] Grilli had been pitching, I'd have said, 'we win,' " Parrish said.

The Hens skipper knew he'd be short-handed. He might not have expected tobe short-armed, too.

Grilli, the Hens' starter who is tied for the team lead with 10 victories, had won all of his previous three starts by allowing just three runs in a combined 212/3 innings. This time, Grilli didn't make it through the third inning, allowing nine hits and seven earned runs.

"He just got the ball up," Parrish said. "Every pitch I saw [Charlotte] hit was a ball that was up and over the plate."

Greg Norton, the Charlotte designated hitter, had three hits, drove in three runs and scored twice. And that was in the first three innings.

The Knights, who had lost seven of eight previous meetings with the Hens this season, worked off their frustration with eight extra-base hits - seven doubles and a home run by catcher and Raul Casanova.

Casanova also had one of the doubles. It came with the bases loaded in the eighth and put the finishing touches on the rout.

As odd as it may sound considering the final score, the game might not have gotten out of hand so early if not for a bad hop. After Casanova's leadoff homer in the second tied the score at 2, and after Scott Bikowski followed with a single to right for the Knights, Felix Martinez hit a grounder to the right side that had double play written all over it.

Instead, the ball glanced off the edge of the infield grass and tied up Hens second baseman Jason Smith, who could not make a play. Given that break, Charlotte would go on to post the first of back-to-back, four-run innings.

"As good as this field is, you don't see that happen very often," Parrish said.

Despite the absence of two power hitters, the Hens smacked a trio of two-run home runs to delight a crowd of 7,237, but it wasn't nearly enough.

Alexis Gomez went 3-for-5 and had four RBIs for Toledo.

He plated two runs with a single in the first inning that gave Toledo a short-lived 2-1 lead and then cracked a two-run homer onto the porch under the left-field scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth. One inning earlier, Gookie Dawkins got Toledo started with a single off the base of the wall in left and Dewayne Wise followed with a long home run to right.

In the bottom of the ninth, Gomez singled with two outs and trotted home on a towering shot by Smith to dead center.

Parrish said Raburn missed last night's game because of a hamstring injury that he suffered during infield drills prior to Monday night's game. Thames was a late scratch from the lineup when a groin injury he's been fighting flared up again, according to the manager.

- Dave Hackenberg

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MUD HENS NOTEBOOK

Toledo still in position to post impressive record

By DAVE HACKENBERG

BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The Mud Hens, despite last night's lopsided loss at Fifth Third Field, seem a lock to post the best record of any Toledo baseball team in the modern era, which is defined by the franchise and its statisticians as post 1965, when minor league baseball returned after a one-decade absence.

But the Hens also have a reasonable chance at posting the best record of any Toledo team since the 1800s.

The 1944 Mud Hens currently own that distinction with a record of 95-58 for a .621 winning percentage.

After last night's 14-9 loss to Charlotte, the Hens are 75-48 (.610) with 21 games remaining in the regular season.

Toledo would have to win at least 15 of those remaining games to better the '44 Hens' winning percentage.

The 2002 Mud Hens, who compiled an 81-63 record (.563), have the best record of the so-called modern era, and the bottom would have to drop out for the '05 Hens to not better that mark.

Based on winning percentage, the best Toledo team of all time went 56-28 (.667) in 1883. The 1896-97 teams also finished with winning percentages above .650. The 1927 powerhouse, managed by Casey Stengel, won a franchise-record 101 games, but did so in a 168-game season, which translated to a winning percentage of .601.

EMPTY BENCH: With Marcus Thames and Ryan Raburn taking the night off because of injuries, the Hens started the game with only one available position player on the bench. That was Brandon Harper, a catcher by trade, who got the call in the top of the fourth inning after third baseman Mike Hessman was ejected for arguing a called third strike in the bottom of the third.

Manager Larry Parrish had to juggle the lineup a bit and Harper landed in left field.

RARE START: Norfolk, tonight's opponent in the first game of a two-game series at Fifth Third Field, listed Shingo Takatsu as its probable starter. If so, it would mark the first start of his American career and his first start since 1997 in Japan. Takatsu was the runner-up in last season's American League rookie of the year voting after posting 19 saves with the White Sox. Takatsu was recently claimed on waivers by the Mets organization.

The Hens are scheduled to send Zach Miner (0-0, 2.61) to the mound for the 7 p.m. game.

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'Wolves lag behind in late innings

Erie loses in 10th to New Britain, drops to 5th in division

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- The Erie SeaWolves weren't no-hit Tuesday night, but they weren't victorious either.

New Britain tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, then won it in the bottom of the 10th.

J.R. Taylor drove in Daniel Matienzo with the decisive run for an 8-7 victory before 5,677 at New Britain Stadium.

The 'Wolves, who were no-hit by Bowie pitcher Matt Bailie on Sunday, broke out for 11 hits against the Rock Cats. They weren't enough to prevent their slide down the Eastern League's Southern Division.

With Reading's 9-3 win over Trenton, Erie (60-63) dropped to fifth place for the first time since the first week of the season. The 'Wolves have lost 14 of their past 19 games.

The Rock Cats (58-65) scored the tying and winning runs off Erie closer Edwin Almonte (1-5). Down 7-6 in the ninth, Thomas Watkins led off with a double and advanced to third on an infield single by Denard Span.

New Britain's Matthew Moses hit into a double play, but Watkins came home with the tying run.

Erie nearly scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th. Mike Rabelo and Jack Hannahan walked against Rock Cats reliever Kevin Cameron (6-1).

With two outs, Michael Woods smashed a ground ball up the middle. Watkins made a diving stop in the hole and flipped to Taylor for the third out.

Almonte was in trouble from the outset in the 10th. Matienzo led off with an opposite-field single to right, then moved to third when Luis Jimenez chopped a double over the head of 'Wolves first baseman Juan Tejeda.

New Britain's Alexander Romero was intentionally walked to load the bases. Almonte struck out Kyle Phillips, but Taylor followed with a grounder through the right side to score Matienzo.

It was Almonte's fifth blown save of the season against a league-leading 32 saves. Juan Francia had two hits and two RBIs for Erie.

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SEAWOLVES LOSE IN EXTRAS

Erie falls into fifth place

New Britain, CT—Trailing 5-1 heading into the fourth inning Tuesday night, the Erie SeaWolves put together another fantastic comeback. Unfortunately, despite their six-run inning, the Wolves could not hold on to the lead losing to the New Britain Rock Cats 8-7 in 10 innings.

Jeremy Johnson started the game for Erie, and gave up five runs in the second inning putting New Britain ahead 5-1. But in the fourth, the Wolves came out howling as Mike Rabelo led off the inning with a double, Byron Gettis then walked, and after Jack Hannahan flew out to left field, Victor Mendez delivered an RBI single to center. Mike Woods followed with a triple high off the left field wall scoring two runs, Scott Tousa singled, and then Juan Francia homered to right to give the SeaWolves six runs in the inning, and a 7-5 lead.

Erie had chances in the seventh and eighth innings to add to their lead, but were unable to do so, and unfortunately it came back to hurt them. Leading 7-6 heading into the ninth, Edwin Almonte came in to try and save his 33rd game of the season. Tommy Watkins quickly made it apparent that it would not be a routine save by crushing a double to right-center field to lead off the inning. Denard Span bunted for a base hit, and then Matt Moses grounded into a double play while the tying run scored.

The game went into the tenth, and after Watkins made a great diving play up the middle to end the inning, Danny Matienzo singled to right to open the bottom half. Luis Jimenez then doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out, therefore leading to an intentional walk of Alex Romero. With the bases loaded, Kyle Phillips struck out, but J.R. Taylor picked him up, driving a single to right field to score the winning run.

Edwin Almonte (1-5) suffered the loss, and Kevin Cameron (6-1) pitched the final 2.2 innings to record the victory. With the loss, the SeaWolves fell a season-high three games below .500, and into fifth place in the Southern Division.

The SeaWolves and Rock Cats will be back at it on Wednesday beginning at 7:05pm. Virgil Vasquez will get the start for Erie, and Jim Abbott will counter for New Britian. You can listen to all the action live on Sports Radio 1330 The Fan, or on the internet at www.seawolves.com.

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Rodland Again Plays Hero Role for Lakeland Tigers

By DAVID YATES

Ledger Correspondent

DUNEDIN -- Sunday's hero was back at it again Tuesday as Lakeland won an important West Division showdown with Dunedin.

Eric Rodland's two-out, basesclearing double in the 11th inning powered the Tigers' 11-9 Florida State League victory over the Blue Jays before 313 fans at Knology Park.

The see-saw win enabled the Tigers (27-20) to move one game ahead of the Blue Jays (28-23). Lakeland has already clinched a playoff spot but Dunedin is trying to be the Tigers' first-round opponent by winning the West in the second half, or at least capturing wild-card honors.

The odds were good that Lakeland would triumph Tuesday, if for no other reason than the team's starting pitcher was Jordan Tata (12-2), the winningest hurler in the league. But the 23-year-old Texas right-hander wasn't as sharp as usual, allowing five runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Still, Lakeland took an 8-6 lead into the ninth, when two errors and an untimely Eulogio De La Cruz wild pitch allowed the relentless Jays to tie the game.

But Gilberto Mejia walked to lead off the 11th and stole second one out later. That forced to Jays to walk FSL RBI leader Brent Clevlen intentionally, and with two outs, they also elected to walk Kelly Hunt, a strategy that Rodland foiled moments later with a double to left.

Danilo Sanchez homered for the 18th time, singled twice, scored twice and drove in a pair of runs, while Juan Gonzalez doubled, singled twice, scored once and also drove in a pair.

The series will now switch to Joker Marchant Stadium for round two tonight at 7, and then move back to Knology Park for the series finale Thursday.

----------------

Lakeland 221 020 010 03--11 14 3

Dunedin 000 402 002 01-- 9 14 1

LAK: Tata, Rogers (6), Zell (7), De La Cruz (9), Homer (10), Hensen (11), F. Sanchez (11) and D. Sanchez, Cleveland (10); DUN: Romero, Harper (5), Harang (7), Hill (9), Mumma (11) and Whittaker, Diaz (5). WP: Homer (6-4); LP: Hill (44); SV: F. Sanchez (1). E: LAK - Rodland (2), Gonzalez (6), Mejia (12); DUN - Arnold (18). DP: LAK 2, DUN 1. LOB: LAK 8, DUN 7. 2B: LAK - Clevlen (26), Nicholson (2), Gonzalez (4), Rodland (12); DUN - Snyder (4), Diaz (14). HR: LAK - Sanchez (18); DUN - Reiman (4). SAC: DUN Mayorson. SB: LAK - Rodland (8), McKinney (15), Mejia (9); DUN - Mayorson (6). WP: De La Cruz. PO: DUN - Whittaker (by Sanchez). BK: Tata. Time: 3:33. Attendance: 313.

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West Michigan answers Kane Couhnty blowout

GENEVA, IL - Clete Thomas led a rejuvenated Whitecaps offense with four RBI as West Michigan downed Kane County, 10-5.

The two teams have traded lopsided victories over the first two games of a four game series. On Monday, the Cougars won 12-5.

Thomas put West Michigan on top in the fourth inning with a two-run single that made the score, 3-2. In the fifth, Thomas knocked a two-run double that raised the score to 8-4. He nearly picked up another pair of RBI in the ninth when a two runs scored on what was ruled a two-base error when center fielder Javier Herrera dropped the ball while running toward left.

Luis Sabino gave the Whitecaps the lead for good in the fourth when his belted a two-run double to left center. After a throw home failed to nab Nick McIntyre, who scored from first base, catcher Raul Padron threw the ball behind Sabino to second, but the toss sailed into centerfield and allowed Sabino to score. Following the play, West Michigan led, 6-4.

Kane County picked up two runs in the bottom of the second to grab a 2-1 lead, then rallied to retake the lead in the fourth with another pair of scores for a 4-3 margin.

Andrew Kown pitched five innings to earn the win.

Whitecaps closer Kevin Whelan, who had not pitched since last Friday, came on with a six run lead to start the bottom of the ninth, but allowed two hits and a run. It was the first time he had allowed a hit or a run as a Whitecap. Whelan's hitless and scoreless streak ended at 5.1 innings.

In seven of the nine innings, including each of the last six, West Michigan put the lead off batter on base.

Before Tuesday, the last regular season victory for West Michigan at Kane County was May 16, 2003. That victory completed a series in which the Whitecaps took 3-out-of-4. Since then the Cougars had taken five straight in Geneva during the regular season against the 'Caps. West Michigan beat Kane County at Elfstrom Stadium in Game two of the Midwest League Championship Series on September 15, 2004.

###

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Local announcers prepare to broadcast Whitecaps game in Detroit

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

By Brian Vanochten

The Grand Rapids Press

COMSTOCK PARK -- Dave and Dan are getting called up.

The first-year pairing of Dave Skoczen and Dan Elve in the West Michigan Whitecaps' radio booth will have the unprecedented honor of broadcasting the first minor-league baseball game ever at Comerica Park next week when the Whitecaps host the Fort Wayne Wizards on Monday in a 7:05 p.m. contest.

It's a major-league thrill for both announcers.

"It's unbelievable," Skoczen, 27, said of the opportunity to call the play-by-play action on flagship station WBBL-AM (1340) in the big-league setting of the home of the Detroit Tigers.

"It should make us sound better," he added with a laugh. "It's pretty awesome. You get to hang around and be on the field and be in that clubhouse. You're in the big time for a day. I'm really looking forward to it."

For Elve, it's sort of a homecoming.

The prominent local attorney used to occupy an office at Tiger Stadium as a front-office executive of the Tigers. He served as assistant general manager from 1979-81 and his duties included overseeing the team's minor-league operations and handling salary arbitration cases at the major-league level.

A lifelong student of the national pastime, Elve, 52, returned home to Grand Rapids in 1981 to practice law at the local firm of Rhoades McKee. He continues to serve as senior counsel at the firm, splitting his time between the courtroom and the ballpark.

"It's going to be a real thrill," Elve insisted.

"It'll be nice to get down on the field. It's going to be nice for the players. It's going to be a thrill for Dave," he added, "because he could be in a major-league market broadcasting games on the radio at some point in the future."

Big-league ambitions

It is Skoczen's goal to become a major-league broadcaster.

It is Elve's mission as a color analyst to help his broadcast partner to get to the highest level. He has been a nice complement to Skoczen with his expert knowledge of the game, helping combine two generations in the radio booth this season.

"It's been a lot of fun and it's great to be back in the game," Elve said. "I didn't realize how difficult it would be (learning the finer points of broadcasting). It's tougher than I thought it would be, but I think we're hitting our stride as broadcast partners during the second half of the season."

Skoczen agreed.

He got a chance to listen to Elve from a distance last month when he took time off to be with his wife, Lisa, for the birth of the couple's first child -- a son named Oliver Henry. He was impressed with the call of a game from Battle Creek with pinch-hitter Steve Lloyd-Jones, a former Whitecaps radio broadcaster, on play-by-play and Elve hitting a home run as the color analyst.

His critique of Elve was a big thumbs-up.

"Dan has improved so much from the start of the season," Skoczen said.

It's a budding partnership that should continue.

"I'm really satisfied with the progress they've made," Whitecaps vice president of operations Jim Jarecki said. "I'd like to see the (radio) team stay together. Overall, if you can keep a team together, it'll be better for everyone involved."

WBBL program director Bret Bakita is equally impressed.

"I think they've done a phenomenal job. I'm excited about the future for these guys," he said. "Dave is the consummate professional; he's going to be in the in the big leagues some day. Dan has done a fantastic job as well. He's picked it up fine (the nuances of broadcasting) and done a nice job with Dave.

"I'm very happy with both of them."

Broadcast team has jelled

Together, Dave and Dan have brought a whole new perspective to radio broadcasts of the Whitecaps. Skoczen is a smooth, confident voice on play-by-play who's a real major-league prospect, while Elve is the perfect No. 2 man full of top-notch insight into the strategies and complexities on the field.

"It's been a blast," Skoczen said.

The opportunity to share the Comerica Park broadcast booth next week should be the highlight of what has been a truly memorable first season as partners.

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Tigers fall to Spinners, 3-2

O-TIGERS ’05

By Joe Lemire

Contributing Writer

LOWELL — Lowell pitching spun a masterpiece in the Mill City Tuesday night.

Four Lowell pitchers combined to allow one earned run, eight hits and no walks as the Spinners pulled within 1½ games of Oneonta atop the Stedler Division with a 3-2 victory over the Tigers.

The Spinners (31-23) evened its five-part series against the O-Tigers (32-21) at two games apiece. The series ends at 7 tonight at LeLaucher Park before the O-Tigers travel to Vermont for a four-game set against the Expos.

Losing pitcher Matt O’Brien (4-2) and reliever Matt Norfleet kept the Tigers in it until the end, but Oneonta stranded the potential tying run at third in the ninth.

Cory Middleton started Oneonta’s last-inning rally with a routine grounder to the left side. Lowell shortstop Jed Lowrie sailed his throw to first, allowing Middleton to reach base.

Lowell reliever Argimiro Guanchez struck out the next two batters, but in the process, Middleton advanced to third on two wild pitches. After working the count full, Brandon Timm hit a hard grounder up the middle. Lowrie made up for his earlier error by tracking the ball down and throwing to first to beat Timm by a half-step.

Lowell allowed one unearned run through seven innings to take a 3-1 lead, but Oneonta pulled within 3-2 in the eighth.

Joel Roa opened with his second single and was replaced by pinch-runner Jeramy Laster. He moved to second when William Rhymes grounded out to Lowrie at short, then came home when Matt Joyce singled to right off side-arm reliever Blake Maxwell.

"With a sidewinder, you’re going to see the ball up and he left one up," said Joyce, who also singled in the first. "I just tried to pull it and get the runner over so one of the guys behind me could knock him, but it found a hole."

The Tigers put runners on in seven innings but failed to sustain an offensive charge.

"You go through streaks like that," O-Tigers manager Tom Brookens said. "It’s just part of the game. You try to talk to the guys about their approach at the plate, about trying to put the bat on the ball and move a runner over."

Lowell starter Clay Buchholz pitched three scoreless innings before Oneonta tied the score at 1 with an unearned run in the fifth off reliever Chris Jones (1-0). Roa knocked in Timm, who singled and moved to second on a fielding error by third baseman Matthew Mercurio.

Jones struck out five in three innings before Maxwell and Guanchez closed the victory. Guanchez struck out two in 1 1/3 innings for his seventh save.

"The whole staff was doing a very good job of hitting their spots and moving the ball on the corner and leaving the hitters off balance," Joyce said. "It’s tough to lose a ballgame that close because those are the games you know you can win."

Jason Twomley fell a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a leadoff homer to right-center in the third for Lowell.

"We can’t seem to figure that guy out," Brookens said. "He seems to hit the ball hard most of the time. We’re going to have to take a good look at what we’re throwing him because whatever it is isn’t working. We’re going to have deal with him because we’ve got six more games with these guys to go."

O’Brien allowed three hits and two runs through six innings before Lowell chased him in the seventh. Three of Lowell’s first four batters in the seventh had hits, including an RBI single by Jacob Ellsbury.

"O’Brien gave us a quality outing," Brookens said. "He wasn’t so much out of gas (in the seventh), but they were hitting the ball pretty hard off him. His pitch count was in the mid-80s, so I thought I’d make a change."

With one out in the seventh, Norfleet inherited two runners from O’Brien — and added a third with a walk — but got out of the inning with two strikeouts.

The league’s top two run-scoring offenses combined for 19 runs in Friday’s opener but have scored 14 in their last three meetings.

"Surprisingly, it’s been low-scoring games," Brookens said. "I thought we had a chance to win that game with a run in the eighth and a man on with one out in the ninth. But you need a big hit at that point."

• Gibbs Wilson, selected in the 36th round of this year’s amateur baseball draft, was assigned to the O-Tigers, business manager John Nader said Tuesday. As of Tuesday, however, he wasn’t activated for the roster.

Wilson, a 6-foot-2 right-handed pitcher from Abilene, Texas, played for Weatherford College (Texas) this past spring. The Coyotes finished 33-22.

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Almost a 6 RBI game for Clete...6 runs accounted for from his bat at least. He really is putting up amazing numbers.

Someone get to that scorer, let's make a little change there!

C'mon do it for Clete.

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Wilson would've been a DFE at Weatherford, but he had a good summer pitching for the El Dorado Broncos in the Jayhawk League. His season just ended when the Broncos finished 7th at the NBC World Series.

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Originally posted by columbus tiger

Almost a 6 RBI game for Clete...6 runs accounted for from his bat at least. He really is putting up amazing numbers.

Someone get to that scorer, let's make a little change there!

C'mon do it for Clete.

That was a tough one for Clete. The announcers were saying what a difficult decision the official scorer was going to have on that ruling because the outfielder did an outstanding job of just getting to the ball. Tough break for the outfielder too as the ball was smoked, but he gets the error because he just barely got to it and the pitcher doesn't get harmed statistically even though he served it up. Baseball is interesting! :classic:

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