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Pitchers highlight SeaWolves roster

From staff reports, Erie Times-News

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Jacob Turner pitches for the Erie SeaWolves in an intersquad game against the Toledo Mud Hens March 22 in Lakeland, Fla. Contributed

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Erie SeaWolves' spring training game was rained out Thursday, but the team still managed to field a lineup.

SeaWolves manager Chris Cron told the Erie Times-News that the Detroit Tigers finalized his team's roster, three days before the players are to break camp and head to Erie.

Fifteen of the 24 players on the roster spent at least part of the 2010 season in Erie, including pitcher Zach Simons, catcher Jeff Kunkel, infielders Michael Bertram, Rawley Bishop and Audy Ciriaco and outfielders Justin Henry and Deik Scram.

Top pitching prospect Jacob Turner will be joined by Casey Crosby, who was injured in 2010 but won 10 games at Class A West Michigan in 2009; closer Chance Ruffin, the son of former major league pitcher Bruce Ruffin and a second-round pick in the 2010 draft; and 6-foot 6-inch Luke Putkonen.

Infielder Brandon Douglas, who in 2010 hit .359 with Erie and .331 with Class A Lakeland, could be one of the Eastern League's top hitters. Bertram, Bishop and Ciriaco each hit at least 10 home runs for the SeaWolves a year ago; Bertram's 10 with Erie is the most by any player on the season-opening roster.

Fan favorite Deik Scram also will return. The versatile outfielder has played in 332 games with Erie since 2008.

The SeaWolves' scheduled game against the Harrisburg Senators on Thursday fell victim to thunderstorms. The SeaWolves are scheduled to play the Mississippi Braves today and the Toledo Mud Hens on Saturday in Lakeland before breaking camp.

The SeaWolves will open the season Thursday at 6:35 p.m. against Altoona at Jerry Uht Park

Pitchers highlight SeaWolves roster - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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Erie SeaWolves' Douglas knows how to hit

By CHUCK PORA, Erie Times-News

Contributing writer

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Erie SeaWolves second baseman Brandon Douglas throws to first for an out during the 4th inning of the game against the Binghamton Mets at Jerry Uht Park on July 29

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Most minor league baseball teams have a pitching machine. Not as many have a hitting machine.

The Erie SeaWolves will have one this season: Brandon Douglas.

Wherever he has played, Douglas, a 6-foot, 198-pound right-handed hitter from St. Charles, Iowa, has churned out hits as if they were coming off an assembly line.

At the University of Northern Iowa, he batted .370, .339 and .396 for a career average of .370. In 884 at-bats during his three-year career in the Detroit Tigers' organization, including two stints with the SeaWolves, he's stroked 293 hits for a career batting average of .331.

In every stop where he has batted more than 100 times, he's hit no lower than .312.

"You could classify him as a professional hitter," first-year SeaWolves manager Chris Cron said about Douglas, 25, an infielder who is expected to bat second for the SeaWolves. "He's a prototypical two-hole, multitasker guy. The guy in that hole needs to do a lot of things, such as hit-and-run, bunt and move runners. That's his game plan, and he does it very well."

Selected by the Tigers in the 11th round of the 2008 draft, Douglas started his career in the Gulf Coast Rookie League, where he batted .333 in seven games. Promoted to short-season Class A Oneonta later in 2008, he hit .312 in 47 games, and then was moved up to low-A West Michigan, where he posted a .436 average in 39 at-bats.

Near the end of the 2008 season Douglas got his first taste of Double-A, where he hit .263 in five games for the SeaWolves, the only time he has failed to reach the .300 mark during his college and professional careers.

From there things only got better, as he hit .322 in 83 games at West Michigan in 2009, and started 2010 at high-A Lakeland, where he hit .331 in 37 games. That prompted the Tigers to move him back up to Erie, where he hit .359 in 35 games in 2010.

"When I went up to Erie last year the nervousness and excitement were pretty much gone, and I was just able to go out and feel comfortable," he said. "When you step in the batter's box you need to feel comfortable and confident, and getting those five games of experience in 2008 helped me a ton."

Douglas said that the secret to his success has been consistency in his approach.

"My approach has always stayed the same," he said. "I know that I'm not going to go out there and hit a ball 450 feet, I'm someone who's going to hit line drives and ground balls and get on base. I'm going to leave the home runs up to the big guys."

Douglas' one clear weakness at the plate -- power -- shows in his pro homers total: four. That doesn't bother Tigers hitting coordinator Toby Harrah, who has been keeping a keen eye on Douglas since he joined the organization.

"He's got a nice swing, and does a lot of things right at the plate," Harrah said. "His path to the ball is very good, he's a very good fastball hitter, and he sees the ball well. He knows the strike zone well, and doesn't have a lot of glitches in his swing; it's real, real sound."

Harrah said that Douglas' mental toughness is a key part of his approach.

"He clears his mind and tries to see the ball and hit the ball, and he has a lot of confidence in himself. He feels like he's going to get a hit every time up."

"My mindset is that the pitcher is going to make at least one mistake during the course of an at-bat, and you've got to be prepared to take advantage of it," Douglas said.

Like many hitters who play at Jerry Uht Park for the first time, Douglas said that the short left-field wall, which is just 312 feet down the line, caught his eye. At first, he found himself aiming for the short porch, but soon was able to resist the temptation.

"Oh, man, I'll tell you what

, when I first got up there, I paid attention to it," he said. "But after the first couple of games trying to pull and it didn't work out, I just decided to go back to my normal approach."

"Every once in a while he'll surprise you and get into one, but that's not his game," Cron said. "His game is classified as little ball, because he does all the little things to make things good."

Erie SeaWolves' Douglas knows how to hit - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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SeaWolves lose pitcher, add another

The Eastern League season has yet to start and the Erie SeaWolves already have made their first transaction.

Relief pitcher Zach Simons, who was scheduled to start the season with the Double-A SeaWolves, was transferred to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens on Monday.

Rob Waite was transferred to Erie from Class A Lakeland. Waite appeared in 12 games with the SeaWolves in 2010, going 0-0 with a 2.66 earned run average.

In his three-year minor league career, Waite is 5-6 with four saves, a 4.02 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 159 innings pitched.

The SeaWolves are scheduled to open the season Thursday at 6:35 p.m. at Jerry Uht Park against the Altoona Curve.

SeaWolves lose pitcher, add another - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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SeaWolves warm to Erie ahead of season opener

By JOHN DUDLEY, Erie Times-News

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Erie SeaWolves third baseman Francisco Martinez practices with his teammates at Jerry Uht Park on April 5

The Erie SeaWolves worked out at Jerry Uht Park for the first time Tuesday afternoon with light snow flurries in the air.

First-year manager Chris Cron planned to give them today off to find apartments and, for some, to grow a little more accustomed to the fickle Erie spring.

Among the latter group is pitcher Chance Ruffin, a Texas native whose father, Bruce, played 12 big league seasons. Ruffin is slow to embrace the theory that pitchers have the upper hand when it's cold.

"I don't know if this weather favors anybody," Ruffin, 22, said with a laugh. "I'd rather be in 100-plus (degrees) right now."

It's unlikely to be half that warm when the SeaWolves play host to the Altoona Curve on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. in their season opener.

Yet Cron was encouraged by a forecast that suggests they'll play, and upbeat about getting started with a club that includes some of the parent Detroit Tigers' top prospects.

"It really does look good," Cron said. "We've got some talent in this organization, and it's nice to have a little stockpile here in Erie."

Atop the pile is opening-day starter Jacob Turner, a first-round pick out of high school in 2009 who is rated the Tigers' top prospect by Baseball America.

Turner, 19, begins his second professional season on a staff that also includes Ruffin, a 2010 first-round pick who is projected as a major league reliever, and big left-hander Casey Crosby, who has worked his way back from elbow surgery and possesses a mid-90s fastball.

"We've got a lot of guys with really great arms," said Turner, who went 6-5 with a 3.28 earned-run average in 24 Class A starts in 2010. "I think we've got a lot of guys with big league potential on this team."

The SeaWolves announced one move Tuesday. Veteran catcher Jeff Kunkel was called up to Triple-A Toledo. The SeaWolves received Class A catcher Billy Alvino to replace him.

The move isn't expected to have a significant effect on the 'Wolves, since Double-A rookie Bryan Holaday, one of only four college players to homer off Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg in 2009, will handle the bulk of the catching duties.

Cron said Alvino caught most of the SeaWolves' pitchers this spring.

SeaWolves warm to Erie ahead of season opener - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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SeaWolves start season with new manager, strong staff

By MIKE COPPER, Erie Times-News

mike.copper@timesnews.com

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Erie SeaWolves starting pitchers, from left, Luke Putkonen, Mark Sorensen, Casey Crosby, Jacob Turner and L.J. Gagnier were photographed at Jerry Uht Park on April 5

Chris Cron's left leg had the shakes Tuesday afternoon.

Not that the Erie SeaWolves' new manager was cold, although it would have been understandable given the snowflakes that fluttered upon Jerry Uht Park.

Instead, it was from the baseball vibe that flowed throughout Cron from behind his desk while he discussed his thrill of opening day.

And he didn't just mean today's 6:35 p.m. Eastern League opener against Altoona.

Cron recalled this same reaction from his Little League days in Southern California, his four seasons at El Dorado High School in Placentia, and his 28 seasons as a professional player or manager.

"I don't ever want to lose it," Cron said of the anticipation. "I heard (Boston Red Sox manager) Terry Francona say, 'If you don't have it, you ain't a fan.' I was excited just watching the (Detroit) Tigers-(New York) Yankees game on TV. It's like, 'OK, it's here.' "

And so are the SeaWolves for their 11th season as the Tigers' Double-A affiliate.

Cron is among many new faces that Erie fans will see for a franchise that seeks to avoid consecutive last-place finishes for the second time in less than a decade. The 2010 SeaWolves finished 66-76 in the league's new Western Division.

In spite of that record, Detroit promoted manager Phil Nevin to its Triple-A affiliate in Toledo. Then they went out and wooed Cron away from a Chicago White Sox organization which he'd worked for since 2003.

Cron's timing is immaculate.

When Erie right-hander Jacob Turner throws the first pitch today, he'll be one of seven 'Wolves ranked among the Tigers' top prospects in Baseball America's 2011 Handbook. Turner, 19, was Detroit's top draft pick in 2009.

Other players to watch for are third baseman Francisco Martinez (No. 4); left-hander Casey Crosby (No. 6); right-hander Chance Ruffin (No. 7); left-hander Matt Hoffman (No. 16); right-handed reliever Lester Oliveros (No. 17); and catcher Bryan Holaday (No. 20).

"I knew these kids could play," Cron said. "I just didn't know they were ranked that high. I see the magazines and people bring up (those rankings) to me. That's not the end-all for anything, but it is nice to have other people say nice things about the players. That's a pretty good start."

Here are some players, old and new, that Erie fans should consider as the 'Wolves' new season dawns:

PITCHING

Turner was expected to pitch for Erie at some point this season. However, the Tigers scrapped plans to start him in at Single-A Lakeland (Fla.) after he showed spring training signs that he'll validate their record $4.7 million signing bonus for a high school pitcher.

When the SeaWolves played Toledo in spring training, Turner shut out the Mud Hens and struck out 11 over six innings. Remarkably, the St. Charles, Mo., native isn't Detroit's only top draft choice in Erie's dugout.

The SeaWolves also have Ruffin, a 2010 first-round supplemental pick and the son of 12-year major league pitcher Bruce Ruffin. As a reliever for the University of Texas last season, the right-hander led NCAA Division I with an average of 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings, was second in earned-run average (1.11) and third in saves (14).

Crosby was a fifth-round pick in 2007, but blew out his elbow that fall and needed Tommy John surgery. He's still highly considered by the Tigers because of the left-hander's 6-foot 5-inch height and a fastball that can reach the mid-90s.

Cron also will call the lefty Hoffman and the righty Oliveros out of Erie's bullpen. Oliveros led the SeaWolves a year ago with 14 saves.

"With the talent that we have here, it's my job not to mess it up," Erie pitching coach Ray Burris said.

CATCHER

Holaday, 23, largely felt the same way as Burris.

Drafted in the sixth round a year ago, the Texas Christian product will have even more time to watch and work with Erie's pitchers since veteran Jeff Kunkel was promoted to Toledo on Tuesday.

"It's going to be a lot of fun getting to catch guys with the kind of talent that we have," Holaday said. "With guys like Jake, I don't have a whole lot of work to do. And that's a good thing."

Holaday hit .220 over Lakeland's final 44 games of 2010. Detroit wasn't dissuaded by that, and Cron indicated he'll be Erie's primary catcher over AA newcomer Billy Alvino, or even if Kunkel returns.

FIRST BASE

Cron expects to Michael Bertram to spell Rawley Bishop, even though Bertram is the veteran.

Bertram, 27, is back after a late-season summons to Toledo. Only outfielder Deik Scram, by 24 days, is older than the Lexington, Ky., native among current SeaWolves.

Bishop, 25, made the most of his 2010 midseason promotion to Erie. The smooth-swinging first baseman and former outfielder Wilkin Ramirez were Erie's only position players who received 2010 Eastern League player of the week honors.

SECOND BASE

Brandon Douglas told the Erie Times-News during spring training that his five-game cameo with the 2008 SeaWolves provided a huge boost of confidence for his extended 35-game stay last season.

Douglas, 25, hit .359 over that span. His ability to get on base makes him a candidate to hit in the top of Erie's order.

THIRD BASE

This is all SeaWolves fans need to know about 20-year old Venezuelan native Francisco Martinez:

Erie faced the Double-A Mississippi Braves in spring training game when a Braves batter chopped the ball over the second base side of the mound. It was there that Martinez, and not Erie's shortstop or second baseman, fielded the ball and threw out the batter.

"(Mississippi manager) Rocket Wheeler and I just looked at each other like ..." Cron said with a shrug. "He's made defensive plays that I've never seen before."

Bryan Pounds, another midseason call up last season, will back up Martinez and also DH.

SHORTSTOP

Martinez's arrival means the Audy Ciriaco experiment is over.

The Tigers tried to convert the 23-year old Dominican shortstop into a third baseman as a way to get him more playing time over then-incumbent Cale Iorg. The result was 12 errors in 56 games at the hot corner.

Ciriaco said he still gained knowledge from that position which could help him return to his natural position.

"Sometimes with (the speed of) a runner on ground balls, I tried to throw (to first) too fast," Ciriaco said. "They said I have a good arm from playing third, so I don't have to rush."

OUTFIELD

Officially, Erie has only Ben Guez, Scram and newcomer Jamie Johnson listed as outfielders on its roster.

Johnson, 23, was a seventh-round pick by the Tigers in 2009. He hit .284 as a left and center fielder for West Michigan. But the SeaWolves will have insurance.

"Justin (Henry) is a jack-of-all-trades," Cron said, "and it's nice having a guy that can fill all those spots. Bertram can also play a little outfield. If something drastic happens, good infielders can also go to the outfield and hold their own for a little while."

Cron realizes those scenarios can and likely will happen at some point this season. For the moment, though, the SeaWolves were just ready for that season to start.

And Cron wasn't the only one who exuded opening day joy.

"It's going to be awesome," said Crosby, one of 10 Erie players who will be on a Double-A roster for the first time. "I know I'm going to have some learning curves this year that you normally don't have, but that goes hand in hand. Every day, you want to improve when you're out there."

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SeaWolves open with bottom-of-ninth inning win

By MIKE COPPER, Erie Times-News

mike.copper@timesnews.com

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Tony Sanchez, of the Altoona Curve, dives safely back to first base, ahead of the tag by Erie SeaWolves first baseman, Rawley Bishop, in the fourth inning of the home opener at Jerry Uht Park on April 7

A prominent Detroit Tigers prospect was the final-inning hero of the Erie SeaWolves' season opener.

It wasn't Jacob Turner, even though the former first-round draft pick was as advertised Thursday at Jerry Uht Park.

Instead, it was Turner's catcher who assured the SeaWolves that they wouldn't repeat the franchise-worst 0-8 start of a year ago.

Bryan Holaday's first career Double-A hit scored Justin Henry with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving Erie a 3-2 victory over the Altoona Curve before 3,860 fans at Jerry Uht Park. Henry easily scored from third when Holaday lined the first pitch he saw from Michael Dubee to left field.

"You can't draw it up much better than that," said the 23-year old Holaday, who struck out twice and hit into a double play before his game-winner. "There wasn't much to it. I was just looking for a good pitch to hit, and thank God that I didn't miss it."

Remarkably, Thursday's outcome marked the second straight season that an Erie catcher clinched the team's first victory with a hit in the bottom of the ninth. The SeaWolves ended their winless ways last season when veteran Max St. Pierre, now with Triple-A Toledo, hit a solo home run to beat the Curve 6-5.

"It is definitely nice to get the first one out of the way, and especially in dramatic fashion," said first baseman Michael Bertram, who was with the SeaWolves at the start of 2010. "It kind of builds momentum and good spirits."

Turner, the other half of the team's touted battery, showed why the Tigers gave him a $4.7 million signing bonus in 2009. Showing command that belied his age (19), the right-hander from St. Charles, Mo., pitched a two-hit shutout over six innings, striking out nine and walking one.

Altoona's only scoring chance against Turner came in the second when Tony Sanchez led off with a single and advanced to third on Quincy Latimore's two-out double. Turner responded with curves for called strike threes against Jeremy Farrell and Eric Fryer.

Turner struck out two men in four of his six innings. He retired the last nine batters he faced before manager Chris Cron pulled him with a pitch count of 86.

"It's kind of what we were accustomed to from spring training," Cron said of Turner. "You just look at the kid and he's got poise oozing out of him. He's only 19, but he looks like he's been doing this for quite some time."

Turner received a no-decision despite his performance. He departed with Erie up 2-0, thanks to Ben Guez's two-run homer off Altoona starter Bryan Morris in the bottom of the fifth.

Altoona knotted the score when reliever Matt Hoffman, who was called up to Toledo after the game, walked Brock Holt and Starling Marte to lead off the eighth. Cron brought in closer Lester Oliveros, who recorded two outs around a walk to Sanchez.

Oliveros, though, couldn't get out of the jam when Latimore's line double off the top of the left-field fence scored Holt and Marte. However, Oliveros did get Altoona's last out of that inning and retired the side in the ninth.

Bertram began Erie's decisive rally with a one-out single to right off Dubee, Altoona's fifth pitcher. Henry pinch-ran for Bertram, stole second and advanced to third when Francisco Martinez was out on a deep grounder to short.

Henry then scored the game-winner when Holaday dropped a single in front of a diving Latimore in left.

SeaWolves open with bottom-of-ninth inning win - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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SeaWolves win 2nd straight to start season

By MIKE COPPER, Erie Times-News

mike.copper@timesnews.com

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Erie SeaWolves pitcher L.J. Gagnier pitches during the first inning of the game against the Altoona Curve at Jerry Uht Park on April 8. JANET B. CAMPBELL/ERIE TIMES-NEWS

Chance Ruffin looks like a bullpen ace, thanks to his nearly full-grown goatee.

He also has the right arm of one, thanks to its notable velocity.

Now, Ruffin has something else: his first professional save. The 22-year-old attained it by pitching a perfect ninth inning for the Erie SeaWolves on Friday.

Ruffin watched from the mound as Altoona's Eric Fryer flew out to Ben Guez in deep right field for the final out of Erie's 2-1 win before 908 chilly fans at Jerry Uht Park.

"I thrive on pressure situations," said Ruffin, who previously closed games for the University of Texas. "To (inherit) a one-run ballgame in my first professional outing, I couldn't ask for anything better."

And neither can the SeaWolves, who are 2-0 for the first time since they swept a four-game series from Altoona to open the 2009 Eastern League season.

"You can't win 'em all without winning the first two," manager Chris Cron said. "That's a joke, of course, but we are fired up. We haven't swung the bats as well as we could, but the weather has something to do with that."

The SeaWolves' offense has only produced five runs on 10 hits through two games. However, their pitching (three runs allowed on seven hits) and defense (no errors) has been as advertised so far against the league's defending champions.

"Defense wins championships, and that's what we're trying to do," Erie center fielder Jamie Johnson said. "So far, it's been lights out."

Johnson contributed to that aspect with a spectacular diving catch of a liner off the bat of Altoona's Jeremy Farrell in the top of the second.

The highlight play immediately was tamed when the Curve's Eric Fryer lined a home run to left field, but it turned out to the only run surrendered by Erie starter L.J. Gagnier (1-0) and three relievers.

Gagnier, who began 2010 with the SeaWolves, allowed only two hits over five innings.

"I didn't think I did a good job of throwing strikes where I needed to throw them," the right-hander said. "Walking four guys in five innings is a little much, but I'll take it because it was a good team win."

It was one that Erie achieved with dubious help from Curve catcher Tony Sanchez, the Pittsburgh Pirates' first-round draft pick in 2009.

Erie's Bryan Pounds was on third base and Bryan Holaday on first with two outs in the bottom of the fourth.

Altoona starter Jeff Locke (0-1) struck out Audy Ciriaco for the apparent third out, but the ball skipped to the left and back of home plate.

Sanchez still appeared to have enough time to throw out Ciriaco at first, but he moon-balled a throw over the head of Curve first baseman Miles Durham and down the right-field line. Pounds easily scored the tying run on the error, and Holaday pulled into third.

Holaday then scored the go-ahead run when an errant Locke pitch to Erie's Deik Scram skipped past Sanchez.

"He's a very good player from what I've seen in the past," Cron said of Sanchez, "but it's hard to do what catchers have to do sometimes. The throw down to first, he messed that up and gave us some life. But (Locke's wild pitch), that was a tough play."

Erie right-hander Jared Gayhart followed Gagnier to the mound and struck out five over his two innings, with left- hander Austin Wood good for a scoreless eighth.

Wood, like Ruffin, also made his Double-A debut Friday.

The teams resume their series today with Erie's first matinee of 2011. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

SeaWolves win 2nd straight to start season - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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SeaWolves live up to preseason label, so far

The SeaWolves arrived from Florida carrying the label of a good pitching team that would play solid defense and might scratch for runs for awhile.

The label-makers got it right.

Through two games, they've gotten solid starts from Double-A rookie Jacob Turner and the seasoned L.J. Gagnier, played 18 errorless defensive innings and scored enough runs to produce a 2-0 start against defending Eastern League champion Altoona with a pair of one-run wins at Jerry Uht Park.

"It's holding true to form," first-year manager Chris Cron said after watching Gagnier, 26, allow one run in five innings before turning over a 2-1 lead to the bullpen, which was lights out.

That came a night after Turner, 19, worked six scoreless innings in a 3-2 win.

Turner and Gagnier went out-for-out against Altoona's Bryan Morris and Jeff Locke, two of the Pittsburgh Pirates' top pitching prospects and veterans of last year's postseason run.

The 'Wolves carry a 1.50 staff earned-run average and have made all the routine plays and even a few outstanding ones, including highlight catches each night by center fielder Jamie Johnson, who played at low Class A West Michigan in 2010.

"Defense wins championships, and that's what we're trying to do here," said Johnson, whose running grab of a blast by Altoona's Jeremy Farrell snuffed out an eighth-inning rally and saved Thursday's win.

In the second inning Friday, Johnson made a diving catch in shallow left-center to rob Farrell of a base hit, minimizing the damage after ensuing hitter Eric Fryer homered.

"It didn't take me long in spring training to realize he was something special," reliever Chance Ruffin said of Johnson. "He's got an arm and he can fly."

Ruffin came on in the ninth Friday for an eight-pitch save, getting two fly balls and a groundout in his professional debut.

"First-save jitters, got 'em out," said Ruffin, who along with Lester Oliveros, last year's closer, gives Cron multiple options at the back of the bullpen.

After summoning the grounds crew to firm up a soft spot in front of the rubber during his warm-up pitches, Gagnier settled in for five gritty innings Friday. He never looked completely comfortable and, when he missed, he was uncharacteristically up in the zone.

But he battled and got big outs, just as Turner had the night before against an Altoona lineup that, while largely turned over from last season, still has some formidable bats.

"Basically the stat line looked all right, but stuff-wise it was pretty mediocre," said Gagnier, who allowed two hits, walked four and struck out four. "I didn't think I did a good job of throwing strikes in situations where I needed to throw strikes, and walking four guys in five innings is a little much. But I'll take it, effectively wild. It's a good team win."

Cron joked Friday, "You can't win 'em all without winning the first two." But the veteran manager knows at some point someone's going to boot a ground ball. Some pitcher is going to get hit hard.

On the other hand, the offense is going to come around after managing only five runs on 10 hits in two nights in a great hitters' park.

Sure, it's earlier than early. The 'Wolves aren't going to win 142 crisp, one-run games. But the first two sure have been easy on the eyes.

John Dudley: SeaWolves live up to preseason label, so far - Sports Column: John Dudley - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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Erie SeaWolves cooled off by Altoona Curve

By MIKE COPPER, Erie Times-News

mike.copper@timesnews.com

bilde?Site=GE&Date=20110410&Category=BASEBALL01&ArtNo=304099910&Ref=AR&MaxW=300&MaxH=400

Altoona Curve baserunner Quincy Latimore is forced out at second by Erie SeaWolves shortstop Audy Ciriaco during the top of the fourth inning. Ciriaco turned the double-play with this throw. The two teams played April 9 at Jerry Uht Park, in Erie. ROB ENGELHARDT/ERIE TIMES-NEWS

Now, the Erie SeaWolves know what it's like to be foiled by quality pitching.

The SeaWolves, who won their first two Eastern League games with stellar performances from starters Jacob Turner and L.J. Gagnier, lost Saturday for the first time in 2011 largely because of Altoona's Aaron Thompson

The Curve left-hander allowed a lead-off infield single to Erie's Jamie Johnson in the bottom of the first, then retired the next 10 batters. Thompson and reliever Brian Leach limited the SeaWolves to that one hit over seven innings, and while the SeaWolves still had a chance to tie late, Altoona prevailed 6-2 before a crowd of 1,091 at Jerry Uht Park.

"We've seen solid starting pitching on both sides in the first three games, and it didn't change much on their end (Saturday)," Erie manager Chris Cron said. "The kid (Thompson) threw well and settled into a nice little groove."

Johnson reached on a hard grounder that glanced off Thompson (1-0). The SeaWolves' center fielder was sacrificed to second, moved to third on a balk and then scored when Rawley Bishop grounded out to first.

Bishop also walked against Thompson in the fourth. He was the only other Erie batter who reached against the former Washington Nationals farmhand over the first five innings.

The Curve only scored once off Erie starter Luke Putkonen, the Detroit Tigers' third-round pick in the 2007 amateur draft. However, they tagged relievers Rob Waite (0-1) and Matt Little for five of their six runs and 11 of their 14 hits.

Erie managed only four baserunners through seven innings. Despite that, the hosts still found themselves with the tying run at the plate in the eighth.

Working with a 6-1 lead, Leach walked Justin Henry, retired Billy Alvino on a popup to short, then surrendered consecutive singles to Johnson and Brandon Douglas, scoring Henry.

When Leach walked Bishop to load the bases, Curve manager P.J. Forbes summoned Michael Dubee from the bullpen. Dubee was the losing pitcher of Thursday's season opener, but the right-hander fared better this time when he got Erie's Bryan Pounds to smash a rally-killing double play grounder to Altoona third baseman Jeremy Farrell.

"I guess (getting the tying run to the plate is) what you strive for late in a game," Cron said. "We didn't have a whole lot going on to that point, but we did enough things to stay in the game."

Altoona's only run off Putkonen was largely of his making. The 6-foot 6-inch right-hander walked Eric Fryer to lead off the third, and then watched the Curve catcher score on the second of his two wild pitches that inning.

Putkonen averted further damage in the third when he retired Altoona's Kris Watts on a two-out fly ball to center with runners on first and second.

"I wasn't getting pitcher's counts that inning," Putkonen said, "and a leadoff walk is never good."

Putkonen retired the last seven batters he faced and departed with the score 1-1 after five innings. The 24-year-old from Lady Lake, Fla., allowed three hits over that span.

One of the hits off Putkonen was Starling Marte's bunt single. The Altoona center fielder had at least one hit off each of Erie's three pitchers, and finished 4-for-5 with a run scored.

The Curve pulled away with two runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and two more in the eighth.

The teams conclude their season-opening four-game series today at 1:05 p.m.

Erie SeaWolves cooled off by Altoona Curve - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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B-Mets next for 2-2 SeaWolves

ShareThe Altoona Curve salvaged a split of their four-game series against the Erie SeaWolves with Sunday’s 10-7 victory at Jerry Uht Park. Altoona didn’t clinch the high-scoring game until Erie’s Audy Ciriaco hit into a game-ending double play in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Erie resumes its season-opening home stand with a three-game series against the Binghamton Mets. Monday and Tuesday’s game will start at 6:35 p.m., with Monday the SeaWolves’ first Buck Night of 2011, followed by a 12:05 p.m. finale on Wednesday.

Erie and Binghamton each went 2-2 for the opening weekend of their Eastern League seasons. Erie split four games with the defending champion Altoona Curve, while Binghamton debuted at Akron.

The Mets are managed by the often fiery Wally Backman, who played second base for the New York Mets when they won the 1986 World Series. Backman was hired to manage Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks in November 2004, but was let go less than a week later when team officials learned he withheld information about a prior DUI arrest and financial problems with the Internal Revenue Service.

Backman rejoined the Mets’ organization last season when they hired him to manage the New York-Penn League’s Brooklyn Cyclones.

Probable starters for the series are: Erie RH Mark Sorensen (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. a Binghamton pitcher to be determined on Monday; RH Jacob Turner (0-0, 0.00) vs. RH Josh Stinson (1-0, 0.00) on Tuesday; and RH L.J. Gagnier (1-0, 1.80) vs. LH Mark Cohoon (0-0, 1.80) on Wednesday.

– Mike Copper

Erie experienced two firsts during Sunday’s loss to Altoona, and neither were good.

Casey Crosby’s outing of 2 2/3 innings, one in which he allowed six runs and six hits, was the first time a SeaWolves starter didn’t go at least five innings. Crosby made his first true minor league start since 2009 after missing last season because of setbacks from Tommy John surgery he underwent four years ago.

Erie also committed its first error in four games. Third baseman Francisco Martinez, Detroit’s No. 4 prospect according to Baseball America, made an errant throw to first on a third-inning grounder hit by the Curve’s Jeremy Farrell. The error led to a run that gave Altoona a 6-1 lead at the time.

**

The SeaWolves and Curve played with three umpires for the first time.

Travis Hatch was present for the teams’ first three games, but too ill to work them. He returned to call fair and foul along the third-base line Sunday, with Tim Rosso at first and the animated Doug Vines behind the plate.

**

Erie manager Chris Cron offered no update on right-hander Cody Satterwhite, the Detroit Tigers’ second-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft.

Satterwhite, 23, is on the disabled list. The Byram, Miss., native pitched for Erie in 2009, but missed all of last season with a rotator cuff injury.

**

Pete Vukovich, a former American League Cy Young Award winner, attended this weekend’s games at the Uht.

Vukovich, 58, is now a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He received the Cy Young award for his 18-6 season with the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, who won the pennant and played the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

**

Former SeaWolves catcher Andy Bouchie made it to the majors, even if it wasn’t the way he envisioned. Check the link to learn how the 25-year old Santa Ana, Calif., native made it to The Show

GoErie.com Blogs: Extra Innings - B-Mets next for 2-2 SeaWolves

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Erie SeaWolves beat Binghamton Mets 7-3

By MIKE COPPER, Erie Times-News

mike.copper@timesnews.com

The Erie SeaWolves didn't tattoo home runs off the top of Tullio Arena the way two Binghamton hitters did Monday night.

But that's not to say they didn't make their own mark.

Erie picked a great time to produce its best rally of the young Eastern League season. A four-run seventh inning, highlighted by Bryan Pounds' RBI double, was the difference in its 7-3 victory before a Buck Night crowd of 1,441.

The SeaWolves also scored seven runs in Sunday's game against Altoona. However, they never led the Curve and their run total was more a piecemeal effort.

Not this time. Erie (3-2) nearly batted around thanks to four hits and a walk off two Mets relievers.

"I think it's finally sinking in that we need to be more aggressive," said Pounds, whose three hits paced Erie's 11-hit attack. "These pitchers have good stuff, so when you get a good pitch to hit, you've got to hit it."

Jamie Johnson ignited Erie's rally with a leadoff walk against Binghamton's Eric Niesen (0-1). Brandon Douglas was retired on a failed bunt attempt, but Michael Bertram followed with an opposite-field single to left-center.

Pounds then came through with his second double of the game. Erie's designated hitter rifled the first pitch he saw from Niesen high off the left-field fence to plate Johnson with the go-ahead score.

"I knew it had a chance (for a homer), even though I didn't think I got all of it," Pounds said. "Then, I thought I was dead on the double (from Binghamton's relay). But I'll take it."

Mets manager Wally Backman pulled Niesen for Erik Turgeon. However, the right-hander fared no better when Francisco Martinez and Audy Ciriaco came through with RBI singles around a wild pitch that scored Pounds with the SeaWolves' sixth run.

Martinez's RBI was his first in Double-A ball.

Austin Wood (1-0) and Chance Ruffin preserved Erie's lead with four innings of relief.

Wood, in particular, dominated Binghamton hitters. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowed no hits and struck out six.

"This means a lot," said Wood, the only left-hander in the SeaWolves bullpen. "This gives me a lot of confidence going forward, because I haven't pitched much over the last year and a half. It felt good to get out there and get some quality innings."

Wood came in for Mark Sorensen, the last Erie starter to make his league debut. Sorensen, a son of former Major League Baseball pitcher Lary Sorensen, allowed all of Binghamton's runs over five innings.

Binghamton's Brahiam Maldonado and Kai Gronauer made the right-hander pay for two mistakes with missile-shot homers high off Tullio's facade.

Maldonado's two-run blast in the fourth atoned for his fielding error an inning earlier. The left fielder let Deik Scram's single go through his legs and allowed Ciriaco to score Erie's first run.

The series resumes today at 6:35 p.m., when fans should get their second look at Erie prospect Jacob Turner. The 19-year-old right-hander, the Detroit Tigers' first-round pick in the 2009 draft, pitched a two-hit shutout over six innings in his initial start Thursday.

Erie SeaWolves beat Binghamton Mets 7-3 - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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SeaWolves win on Mets error in 9th

By MIKE COPPER, Erie Times-News

mike.copper@timesnews.com

bilde?Site=GE&Date=20110413&Category=BASEBALL01&ArtNo=304129888&Ref=AR&MaxW=300&MaxH=400

Erie SeaWolves' Jamie Johnson is tagged out by Binghamton Mets catcher Kai Gronauer during the 3rd inning of the game at Jerry Uht Park on April 12

Binghamton Mets pitcher John Lujan had control issues Tuesday night, and they weren't limited to the Erie SeaWolves' hitters.

His costliest toss went into center field.

Lujan, who suffered a blister during his relief outing, threw wide of second base on a potential double-play grounder off the bat of Erie's Bryan Pounds in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jamie Johnson, who took off from second on the play, easily scored the winning run for a 7-6 victory before 1,046 chilly fans at Jerry Uht Park.

"I was already around third when I heard (manager Chris Cron) yell, 'Go, go, go!" said Johnson, who led off the ninth with a single. "That's when I turned around and saw the ball in center. Then, I just jogged in."

It was a fitting ending to an Eastern League game in which each team committed four errors. However, Erie better overcame its miscues to improve to 4-2.

The Mets (2-4) lost after squandering a 6-4 lead they had built with a three-run eighth inning. Erie countered with two runs in the eighth and then the game-winner in the ninth.

"To come back after losing the lead late, and then tie it late and win again in the ninth, it's big," Cron said of Erie's persistence. "They (Binghamton) helped us with some mistakes, but we had to put them into position to make those plays. They weren't able to do that (Tuesday)."

Erie tied the game at 6-all after Pounds and Francisco Martinez each reached against Lujan (0-1) to lead off the eighth.

Pounds later scored from third on a passed ball by Mets catcher Kai Gronauer. Martinez, who reached on a throwing error by third baseman Eric Campbell, then touched home when Audy Ciriaco lined an opposite-field double over the head of Binghamton right fielder Carlos Guzman.

Martinez's back-to-back errors with two outs in the top of the ninth nearly gave the lead back to the Mets, but Cory Hamilton (1-0) averted that when he retired Michael Fisher on a foul fly to right fielder Deik Scram.

Hamilton got credit for the win when Erie converted on Lujan's last miscue.

Johnson slapped a single to center, his fourth hit, and advanced on a Brandon Douglas sacrifice. Lujan then walked Erie's Michael Bertram to set up a double play.

The Mets appeared to get that when Pounds hit a hard bouncer back to Lujan. The right-hander cleanly fielded the ball, but side-armed his relay to Mets shortstop Jordany Valdespin into short center.

Johnson scored with no throw to the plate to complete a night that saw the SeaWolves' center fielder finish with two singles, two doubles and two runs scored.

Johnson has hit .500 (9-for-18) with seven runs scored and four RBIs over his past four games.

"It's been exactly how you want to draw it up," Cron said of the 23-year-old's recent prowess. "Getting on base and causing havoc. That just falls right into his game. About the only thing we haven't seen him do is lay down a bunt yet."

Erie starter Jacob Turner received another no-decision in his second Double-A start.

Turner, 19, was nowhere as sharp as in Thursday's debut, when he allowed only two hits and struck out nine over six shutout innings. The right-hander saw his scoreless streak end at 81/3 innings as Binghamton got to him for three runs, which included Brahiam Maldonado's solo home run in the fourth.

However, Turner still went seven innings and departed with the SeaWolves up 4-3.

Erie concludes its season-opening homestand with today's 12:05 p.m. matinee against the Mets.

SeaWolves win on Mets error in 9th - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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Rain stops SeaWolves home stand

By MIKE COPPER, Erie Times-News

mike.copper@timesnews.com

Erie SeaWolves pitcher L.J. Gagnier only had to wander several steps outside the clubhouse to learn why Wednesday afternoon's game against Binghamton had been postponed.

A steady drizzle, temperatures in the low 40s and Jerry Uht Park's wet conditions all contributed to wiping out the final game of Erie's season-opening homestand. The game was called minutes before the scheduled first pitch at 12:05 p.m.

However, Gagnier still expressed conflict over not making his second start of the season in such an environment.

"It's kind of a Catch-22," the right-hander said. "I'd rather pitch at this ballpark with the weather like this than have it warm and windy like it was (Sunday). It's a small park and you've got to keep the ball on the ground. I'm not really a ground-ball pitcher, so I get most of my outs in the air.

"When the weather is like this, it keeps it an equalizer because hitters don't like hitting in the cold, either."

Such weather tormented the SeaWolves (4-2) for all but one game over their first week of action. It finally caught up to them Wednesday, which means they'll now host Binghamton (2-4) for a June 28 doubleheader at the Uht.

The first of those two seven- inning games will start at 6:05 p.m. It's part of the second of three series that the Mets will play in Erie this season.

The weather was only marginally better when Gagnier made his season debut Friday. The 26-year-old from Santa Cruz, Calif., pitched five innings and allowed two hits and Altoona's only run in the SeaWolves' 2-1 win.

In 2010, Gagnier proved he could be effective in early spring. He was 3-0 with a 2.83 earned-run average in six starts for Erie before his May 6 promotion to Triple-A Toledo.

"Early in the year, you've got take advantage of the cold as a pitcher," said Gagnier, the SeaWolves' only starter who recorded a win the first time through the rotation.

The postponement gave Gagnier and his teammates extra hours to pack and prepare for their first road trip. The SeaWolves departed Wednesday afternoon for Maryland, where they'll open a four-game series against the Bowie Baysox today. Erie then visits Reading on Monday and Tuesday.

SeaWolves manager Chris Cron said he looks forward to the stops, and not only because the weather forecast around the Mason-Dixon Line is supposed to be a significant upgrade.

"I haven't been at the (Double-A) level in quite some time, so everything's new," said Cron, who's in his 17th season as a minor league manager. "I'll learn (about Bowie and Reading) from the players who have played those guys."

The SeaWolves are scheduled to return to Uht Park on April 21 against Bowie.

Rain stops SeaWolves home stand - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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Erie SeaWolves lose 2-1

From staff reports, Erie Times-News

BOWIE, Md. -- The Erie SeaWolves received another strong outing from their starting pitcher.

This time, however, Erie couldn't pick up the win as Bowie beat the SeaWolves 2-1 Thursday at Prince George's Stadium.

L.J. Gagnier (1-1) opened the road portion of the SeaWolves' schedule and pitched six solid innings, giving up just two runs on three hits while striking out eight.

He surrendered the first of his two runs in the bottom of the second inning on a Pedro Floriman Jr. home run to left field. Brandon Waring led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a triple to right field, and scored two batters later on Ronnie Welty's single.

Erie scored its only run in the fifth inning. Audy Ciriaco led off the inning with a triple to right field and scored one out later on a Francisco groundout to third.

Bowie starter Wynn Pelzer gave up one hit in four innings. Cole McCurry (1-0) pitched three innings in relief, allowing one run.

The SeaWolves opened their season with two wins backed by strong pitching performances. Jacob Turner won the opener with six scoreless innings and Gagnier gave up two hits in five innings in his start.

In other news, a familiar face returned to Erie on Thursday when catcher Jeff Kunkel was reassigned from Triple-A Toledo. Kunkel appeared in two games for the Mud Hens, going hitless in seven at-bats.

Kunkel now has spent parts of four seasons in Erie, appearing in 107 career games. He has a .232 average with nine home runs in 336 at-bats. Kunkel likely will back up Bryan Holaday.

Erie SeaWolves lose 2-1 - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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SeaWolves lose on wild pitch

From staff reports, Erie Times-News

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Erie SeaWolves infielder Bryan Pounds photographed in Erie on April 5.

BOWIE, Md. -- A wild pitch by reliever Chance Ruffin in the bottom of the 12th inning sent the Erie SeaWolves to their second straight road loss, a 9-8 defeat at Bowie's Prince George's Stadium on Friday night.

Ruffin (0-1) allowed a leadoff triple in the 12th to Ronnie Welty, then walked the next two batters before uncorking the wild toss.

The SeaWolves held an 8-4 advantage after four innings, but the Erie bullpen squandered the lead in the sixth inning. Rob Waite replaced starter Luke Putkonen and allowed four Bowie runs on hits by Greg Miclat and Jeff Fiorentino.

Both offenses went cold after that, with neither team advancing a runner past second base until Welty's triple in the 12th.

Erie got on the board in the first inning when Brandon Douglas doubled and Bryan Pounds launched his first home run of the year on a drive to left off Bowie starter Richard Zagone.

The SeaWolves scored four times in the third inning. Shawn Roof led off the frame with a walk and came around to score on a single by Douglas.

After a Ben Guez single and a Bryan Pounds strikeout, Audy Ciriaco took Zagone deep for a three-run home run.

The SeaWolves roughed up the Baysox left-hander for eight runs on seven hits in only 31/3 innings. Erie capped its scoring in the fourth inning when Jaime Johnson doubled in Francisco Martinez and Roof.

Putkonen went five innings for Erie, allowing three earned runs, all on a third-inning home run by Brandon Waring. Brandon Cooney (1-0) got the win for Bowie, throwing three scoreless innings of relief.

SeaWolves lose on wild pitch - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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Erie SeaWolves game at Bowie postponed until Sunday

From staff reports, Erie Times-News

Rain wreaked havoc with the Eastern League schedule on Saturday, postponing all six league games, including the Erie SeaWolves at Bowie Baysox matchup in Maryland. The game will be made up today as part of a doubleheader beginning at 2:05 p.m. at Prince George's Stadium.

Lefthander Casey Crosby is anticipated to make the Game 1 start for the SeaWolves (4-4) against Bowie right-hander Oliver Drake. Crosby (0-1, 16.87) will be making his second start of the season, after only lasting 21/3 innings while allowing five runs on six hits in a loss to Altoona on April 10. Drake makes his first start of the season with the Baysox (4-4) after being transferred from Advanced-A Frederick where, in one start, he threw five innings and allowed two hits and two unearned runs.

In Game 2, Erie's Mark Sorensen (0-0, 5.40) looks to improve on his April 11 outing against Binghamton in which he allowed three runs and four hits in five innings. Eddie Gamboa (1-1, 5.06), who took the loss in his start on April 12 in Richmond, pitches for Bowie.

The SeaWolves travel to Reading after today's games to begin a two-game set against the Phillies.

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Erie SeaWolves split doubleheader with Bowie Baysox

From staff reports, Erie Times-News

BOWIE, Md. -- After a day of ups and downs, the Erie SeaWolves walked away from Sunday's doubleheader against the Bowie Baysox with a split.

The SeaWolves blew a seven-run lead in Game 1 and fell 11-7 before Jamie Johnson's home run in extra innings of Game 2 gave the SeaWolves a 2-1 win at Prince George's Stadium.

In the first game, the SeaWolves scored seven runs in the third inning, their most in any inning so far this season.

Johnson started the inning by extending his hitting streak to seven games when he tripled to right field. Brandon Douglas followed with his first home run of the season to give Erie a 2-0 lead.

Deik Scram hit a three-run double to give the 'Wolves a 5-0 lead. Ben Guez and Justin Henry then drew walks to load the bases again. Scram scored when Jeff Kunkel was hit by a pitch and Johnson drew another walk to give Erie a 7-0 lead.

However, Bowie responded in the next two innings. The Baysox (5-5) scored three runs in the fourth inning and eight in the fifth to take control.

Cory Hamilton (1-1) gave up three runs and recorded just one out in relief for Erie. Cole McCurry (2-0) pitched four scoreless innings of relief for Bowie.

The SeaWolves (5-5) opened the second game with a run in the top of the first when Michael Bertram hit a two-out single and later scored on a double by Bryan Pounds.

Bowie tied the game in the fifth inning when a single by Carlos Rojas scored Bill Rowell.

Johnson broke the tie with his eighth-inning home run off Jose Diaz (0-2).

Lester Oliveros (2-0) allowed one hit and struck out six in 21/3 innings of relief.

Erie SeaWolves split doubleheader with Bowie Baysox - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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Phillies errors lift SeaWolves to win

From staff reports, Erie Times-News

READING -- Entering Monday's matchup against the Erie SeaWolves, the Reading Phillies had committed five errors all season. In a perilous top of the ninth inning, the Phillies recorded four errors, sending the SeaWolves to a 5-1 victory Monday night at First Energy Stadium.

With the score knotted at 1 entering the ninth, SeaWolves shortstop Audy Ciriaco singled to lead off the inning, and Bryan Holaday reached on an attempted sacrifice bunt. Francisco Martinez also attempted to lay down a sacrifice and reached base after Reading failed to cut down the lead runner Ciriaco at third because of a dropped throw by third basemen Carlos Rivera.

With the bases loaded, Deik Scram drew a walk, bringing home Ciriaco and giving the SeaWolves the 2-1 advantage. After a Ben Guez strikeout, Jamie Johnson sent a chopper back to Reading pitcher Phillippe Aumont, who attempted to start a double play at home. Phillies catcher Tuffy Gosewisch failed to corral the throw, scoring both Holaday and Martinez for a 4-1 SeaWolves lead.

Erie made the score 5-1 when Reading booted Brandon Douglas' grounder twice on the same play, allowing Scram to score.

The ugly ninth inning overshadowed a stellar pitching matchup during the first eight innings. Detroit Tigers top prospect Jacob Turner made his third Erie start and tossed 62/3 innings, allowing only one run on four hits while walking one and striking out seven.

The right hander from St. Charles, Missouri, struck out five of the first seven hitters he faced and fanned the side in the second inning.

Turner came within one out of escaping the seventh inning without allowing any runs, but he walked Tim Kennelly with two outs and Gosewisch lined a double to score Kennelly and tie the score.

Turner also rendered hitless for the evening the two power bats in Reading's lineup, Matt Rizziotti and Cody Overbeck. Rizziotti entered play hitting .410 amd Overbeck earned the Eastern League player of the week honors for the opening 11 games of the season after leading the circuit with five home runs.

Reading starter Austin Hyatt matched Turner's effort by allowing only one run on five hits in six innings while striking out seven SeaWolves.

Erie held a 1-0 lead after Martinez grounded into a fielders choice to score Bryan Pounds in the second inning.

Jared Gayhart (1-0) earned the win for the SeaWolves with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless and hitless relief in which he struck out two. Aumont (0-1) was saddled with the loss for Reading (8-4) after allowing the four runs in the ninth inning, none of which were earned.

Johnson snapped his eight game hitting streak for the SeaWolves with an 0-for-5 performance. Ciriaco and Douglas each laced two basehits to lead Erie. The SeaWolves return to action tonight at 6:35 p.m. with an expected pitching matchup of Erie's L.J. Gagnier (1-1, 2.45) against former Cleveland Indians farmhand Ryan Edell (1-0, 2.25) for Reading.

Phillies errors lift SeaWolves to win - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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SeaWolves end road trip with loss to Phillies

From staff reports, Erie Times-News

READING -- Through 51/2 innings Tuesday, the Erie SeaWolves appeared poised to complete a two-game sweep of the Reading Phillies. That all changed a half-inning later.

Phillies designated hitter Matt Rizzotti led off the bottom of the sixth inning by drawing a walk, and an out later left fielder Steve Susdorf hit his first home run of the year to tie the game at 4-4. Reading then added two more runs in each of the next two innings and went on to post an 8-6 victory.

The SeaWolves battled back with a run in the top of the eighth inning when Erie catcher Jeff Kunkel singled to drive home Ben Guez, who had singled to lead off the inning.

Trailing 8-5, the SeaWolves rallied in the top of the ninth inning, this time off reliever Michael Cisco.

After a groundout by SeaWolves second baseman Brandon Douglas, first baseman Michael Bertram singled. Bryan Pounds flew out to center but Audy Ciriaco singled to put runners on first and second base with two outs.

Guez continued the Erie rally with his third hit of the night, a single that drove home Bertram and allowed Ciriaco to move to third.

Things got even more interesting as Francisco Martinez, the potential game-winning run, remained patient at the plate and earned a walk that loaded the bases.

SeaWolves center fielder Justin Henry had an opportunity to add to a night that already included three hits, including a double and an RBI, but Cisco was able to maintain his composure and strike out Henry swinging.

The SeaWolves are off today but return home to Jerry Uht Park on Thursday to begin a three-game home series with Bowie.

SeaWolves end road trip with loss to Phillies - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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SeaWolves open homestand

From staff reports, Erie Times-News

The Erie SeaWolves return home to Jerry Uht Park to begin a three-game series against the Bowie Baysox today at 6:35 p.m.

Erie is coming off its first road trip, during which time it registered a 2-4 record. In their first road series, the SeaWolves managed just one win with a 2-1 victory in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday. Erie followed by splitting a pair with Reading.

The SeaWolves will look to either Luke Putkonen or L.J. Gagnier to take the mound today; a postponement and doubleheader over the weekend has created uncertainty in Erie's rotation.

The Baysox (5-7) will turn to Richard Zagone, who was rocked his last outing. He went 31/3 innings and allowed eight earned runs to the SeaWolves when Erie held on in the 12th inning to beat the Baysox 9-8.

The SeaWolves carry a 6-6 record into the game and are tied for the Western Division lead with Akron (7-7) and Altoona (6-6).

Erie center fielder Jamie Johnson saw his eight-game hitting streak end Monday at Reading. He batted .342 during the streak.

Besides third baseman Bryan Pounds and first baseman Michael Bertram, who are batting .333 and .324, respectively, no other starter for the 'Wolves has an average over .238.

The SeaWolves will follow by hosting Reading in a four-game series to complete their homestand.

SeaWolves open homestand - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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Erie SeaWolves' rally falls short against Bowie Baysox

By MIKE COPPER, Erie Times-News

mike.copper@timesnews.com

bilde?Site=GE&Date=20110422&Category=BASEBALL01&ArtNo=304219824&Ref=AR&MaxW=300&MaxH=400

Erie SeaWolves right fielder Ben Guez is unable to catch a fly ball in the first inning of a game against the Bowie Baysox at Jerry Uht Park on April 21. JACK HANRAHAN/

The Erie SeaWolves' season is only two weeks old, but they already have a nemesis in Bowie pitcher Cole McCurry.

Or, as Erie manager Chris Cron called him, "That darned left-hander."

McCurry won two games in relief for the Baysox when they hosted Erie last weekend.

He continued to vex the SeaWolves by retiring seven straight after they pulled within a run of the lead Thursday night at Jerry Uht Park.

McCurry's effort, combined with Jose Diaz's three-out save in the ninth, clinched Bowie's 7-6 victory before an announced crowd of 1,009.

Bowie's bullpen duo retired the SeaWolves' last 10 batters after they pulled within one thanks to Francisco Martinez's three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

"We thought we had the momentum with Martinez's home run," said Cron, who watched Erie rally from a six-run deficit. "It gave us the chance to win late, but we just weren't able to get those last runs."

Erie (6-7) dropped below the break-even mark to start its second Eastern League home stand of 2011. Bowie improved to 7-7 overall, which includes a 4-1 mark against the SeaWolves.

McCurry has helped pitch the Baysox to victory in three of those games. He's only allowed Erie four hits and one run over 91/3 innings.

"He's kept us off balance and done his thing," Cron said of McCurry.

McCurry and Diaz made a winner of Rick Zagone (1-0), whom Bowie staked to a 7-1 lead after 41/2 innings.

Erie got one run back in the bottom of the fifth, then splurged for four off the Baysox's tiring starter.

The SeaWolves' Brandon Douglas led off the sixth with a double down the left-field line. He advanced to third with one out when Bowie shortstop Pedro Florimon couldn't handle Bryan Pounds' bouncer deep into the hole.

Douglas then scored on Audy Ciriaco's single to left.

Zagone struck out Bryan Holaday for the second out, but Martinez clobbered the left-hander's 1-1 pitch over the left-field fence. The third baseman's homer, his first at the Double-A level, pulled Erie within one of the lead.

"It's my first in cold weather," Martinez said, with Ciriaco as his interpreter.

Justin Henry immediately followed with a single, which also turned out to be Erie's last hit of any kind. Bowie manager Gary Kendall called on McCurry, who quashed further damage when he retired the 'Wolves' Ben Guez on a check-swing bouncer back to the mound.

McCurry and Diaz combined to whiff five of the 10 batters they faced.

The Baysox scored five of their seven runs against Erie's Luke Putkonen (0-1), who struggled throughout his third AA start. They opened with a three-run first and a fourth run in the second off the right-hander.

Jeff Fiorentino and Robbie Widlansky had hits in each inning, with Widlansky's two-run double in the first as the biggest.

Fiorentino finally chased Putkonen with a fourth-inning, two-run homer off Uht Park's right-field screen that made it 6-1. The SeaWolves followed with the rally that left them 4-3 in one-run games.

"Our record indicates that we're struggling a bit," Cron said, "but that's about the only negative thing. We're in every game, and that's kind of all you really want. When we start getting a few breaks here and there, we're going to win some games."

- Note: Erie right-hander Cory Hamilton likely will miss the SeaWolves' seven-game homestand because of a bone bruise on his right hand.

Hamilton, 22, was injured when Reading slugger Cody Overbeck lined a ball off him during the Phillies' eighth-inning rally of their eventual 8-6 win Tuesday night at FirstEnergy Stadium. Hamilton is 1-1 in five relief appearances for the SeaWolves.

Ramon Garcia was recalled from Triple-A Toledo to take Hamilton's roster spot. Garcia went 4-4 with the 2009 SeaWolves and was 0-5 with the 2010 team.

Erie SeaWolves' rally falls short against Bowie Baysox - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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Friday's SeaWolves game postponed

By MIKE COPPER, Erie Times-News

mike.copper@timesnews.com

Chris Cron's minor league playing career included two seasons in Edmonton.

As a manager, he spent eight seasons in dugouts at Colorado Springs and Great Falls, Mont.

Scenic locales, one and all. Still, weather in the Rocky Mountains can be anything but quaint for early season baseball.

Despite that, Cron said his first two weeks managing the Erie SeaWolves could trump the conditions he encountered at those stops.

"This is pretty close," Cron said after inclement weather wiped out Friday's game against the Bowie Baysox at Jerry Uht Park. "This is probably the coldest stretch and most difficult conditions that I've had to come through."

Erie (6-7) and Bowie (7-7) were scheduled to play the second game of their three-game series at 6:35 p.m. However, the Eastern League game was officially postponed 2 hours earlier when the National Weather Service called for steady rain throughout the night.

The teams were rescheduled for a doubleheader today, with the first seven-inning game scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

Friday was already Erie's third called game -- and second at home -- this season. In contrast, the SeaWolves totaled only three postponements at Uht Park last year.

Cron said Erie's rotation will remain intact for today's doubleheader. Right-handed pitcher Mark Sorensen (0-0) will start the first game, with left-hander Casey Crosby (0-1) set for the second.

Bowie's probables for today are right-handers Oliver Drake (0-0) and veteran Eddie Gamboa (1-2).

Drake goes into his start with a not-a-typo 31.50 earned-run average. The SeaWolves were responsible for that gaudy statistic when they first faced the Double-A rookie.

Erie drubbed Drake for seven runs over two-plus innings when he started the first game of Sunday's doubleheader at Prince George's Stadium.

The Baysox couldn't do anything about his ERA, but did get him off the hook for the loss when they rallied for an 11-7 victory.

Erie's pitching was considered its strong suit when the team came north from spring training. However, it's the offense that has prospered more over the season's early weeks.

The SeaWolves scored three runs or less over their first three games. Since then, they've scored five or more in eight of their past 10.

Erie went into Friday with a team batting average of .248, fourth in the league. The team was second in RBIs (53) and runs scored (63).

"We're hitting with runners in scoring position, and we're running the bases pretty well lately," Erie shortstop Audy Ciriaco said. "We're just working to get better in (other facets), because when you score (lots of) runs, good things happen."

Ciriaco was on base when third baseman Francisco Martinez hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning of Thursday's 7-6 loss to Bowie. It pulled the SeaWolves to within a run of a tie after they trailed by six an inning earlier.

Friday's SeaWolves game postponed - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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Erie SeaWolves split doubleheader with Bowie Baysox

By MIKE COPPER, Erie Times-News

mike.copper@timesnews.com

bilde?Site=GE&Date=20110424&Category=BASEBALL01&ArtNo=304239910&Ref=AR&MaxW=300&MaxH=400

Erie SeaWolves baserunner Ben Guez scores in the second inning in the first inning of the first game of a double header at Jerry Uht Park on April 23. Bowie catcher Miguel Abreu is at right.ROB ENGELHARDT/ERIE TIMES-NEWS

The 25 hits were sweet.

Those 18 runs weren't shabby, either.

But it's how the Erie SeaWolves rationed them against Bowie that still resulted in a split by the time Saturday afternoon's doubleheader ended.

The SeaWolves amassed the brunt of their offense in the opener at Jerry Uht Park.

Deik Scram's sixth-inning grand slam emphatically capped a 15-6 win in which Erie registered season highs for runs and hits (17) in a game, and a seven-inning one at that.

Erie wasn't exactly anemic at the plate in the finale, but couldn't come through with enough insurance to maintain a two-run lead.

Robbie Widlansky personally caught up to and surpassed the SeaWolves' run total. The first baseman personally accounted for all of Bowie's RBIs, highlighted by a two-run double in the top of the seventh, for a 5-3 victory.

An announced crowd of 1,595 saw some or all of the split, which allowed the Baysox (8-8) to claim two of three games in the Eastern League series. The outcomes left the SeaWolves 7-8 going into the Easter Sunday break.

Erie's current record is largely based on its 2-5 mark against the Maryland franchise. The Baysox also split a doubleheader with the SeaWolves when they met at Prince George's Stadium a week ago.

"This Bowie ballclub has come back and beat us a couple times in games that we had the lead in the middle part of the game," Erie manager Chris Cron said in matter-of- fact manner.

"But like I've said, we've competed in a lot of those (eight) losses we've had. We haven't been blown out," Cron said.

The SeaWolves did post their first win in such fashion in Saturday's opener, which was even more one-sided than the final score indicated. Every starter recorded at least one hit, and all but leadoff batter Jamie Johnson scored a run.

Five Erie players had multiple-hit efforts, with Scram and Bryan Pounds each getting three in the heart of the batting order.

Scram scored four runs, the last one courtesy of his sixth-inning slam.

The 27-year-old outfielder cleared the bases when he lined a Ryohei Tanaka pitch down the right-field line for his first homer of 2011.

Remarkably, Scram also hit a slam off the Japanese pitcher at Uht Park last July 6.

"Nothing against him," the Erie veteran said of Tanaka. "I was just staying aggressive (Saturday). I saw the ball well and reacted to it."

Scram finished the opener a double away from hitting for the cycle. He lined a leadoff triple in the SeaWolves' three-run third, singled in their three-run fourth, and also walked in the midst of a three-run fifth that gave them an 11-1 lead.

The SeaWolves' Ben Guez was good for three doubles, two runs and three RBIs in the rout. The outfielder also gave the hosts a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth in the second game when he hit a two-run homer to the base of the Uht's scoreboard in right-center.

Erie held that lead until the top of the sixth, when Widlansky socked his own two-run homer off Erie reliever Jared Gayhart. The Bowie slugger then drove in the go-ahead runs with his fourth hit, a two-out double in the seventh off Erie's Austin Wood (1-2).

Baysox closer Jose Diaz pitched the seventh for his sixth save, tied for the league lead.

Guez took the split in stride.

"We came out rolling," he said of an Erie offense that was only retired in order twice over 14 innings. "We didn't stop hitting the whole game. We enjoyed the performance that we had, and hope we can do that all year."

The league is idle for today's holiday. Erie will remain at home for a four-game series against Reading that starts Monday.

Erie SeaWolves split doubleheader with Bowie Baysox - Baseball: Erie SeaWolves - GoErie.com/Erie Times-News

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