Another tough day on the farm, but there was still plenty of interesting things to watch. Graham Stoneburner made his first start in Triple-A. He has long been a favorite dark horse of mine, though injuries have slowed him down quite a bit the last couple years. Rafael De Paula made his debut with Charleston, who split a doubleheader with Greenville. Culver had a strong day going 3-8 on the day and continues to look nice in these first couple games. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lost to Pawtucket 7-2: Melky Mesa started the RailRiders off with a single in the first, but they were unable to score him. They broke through in the second when Luke Murton reached on an error. He moved to second on a ground out by Addison Maruszak and scored when Gil Velazquez grounded a single to center. Pawtucket responded in the top of the third, however, as J.C. Linares lead off with a single. A wild pitch moved him to second and a double by Dan Butler brought the Red Sox's first run home. Jeremy Hazelbaker drew a walk and a single by Justin Henry loaded the bases. Drew Sutton reached on a throwing error by Murton, allowing two runs to score and giving Pawtucket a 3-1 lead. The RailRiders got one run back in the bottom of the inning. Dan Johnson reached on a force out at second and scored after back-to-back singles by Murton and Maruszak. Unfortunately, that was the only rally Scranton had in them as they threatened a couple times but were unable to score again. Pawtucket added some insurance in the ninth on a Hazelbaker grand slam off Jim Miller for the 7-2 win over the RailRiders.
Murton went 2-4 with a run scored and a double. Maruszak also went 2-4, picking up an RBI. Both of them had an error. Stoneburner threw four innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits and one walk. He struck out three. Juan Cedeno threw two perfect innings in relief, getting four Ks in the process. Mark Montgomery also threw two scoreless innings, allowing a pair of hits and striking out three batters.
Trenton Thunder v. Portland (postponed): The Thunder's game was postponed due to COLD. Apparently, it is too cold in early April to play baseball in Portland, Maine. Shocking.
Tampa Yankees lost to Lakeland 8-3: Tampa took an early lead, as Ben Gamel hit a two-out single to left and proceeded to steal second. Gary Sanchez lined a single to right, plating Gamel for the 1-0 lead. Mason Williams started the third with a single and was doubled in by Gamel. Lakeland cut the Yankees' lead in half in the top of the fourth as Dean Green singled and moved to third on a double by Jeff McVaney. A ground out by Aaron Westlake scored the Flying Tigers' first run of the day, making the score 2-1. Tampa got some insurance in the sixth. Zach Wilson and Anderson Feliz drew back-to-back walks and Eduardo Sosa loaded the bases with a bunt single. A sac fly by Ali Castillo put the Yankees ahead 3-1, but they wouldn't be able to hold on to the lead. Joel De La Cruz walked the first two batters of the eighth and was replaced by Zachary Arneson. A single by Steven Moya scored one run and Green tied the game with a single to first. McVaney flew a single to right and Lakeland had the lead for the first time. While that would be enough to win, the Flying Tigers poured it on, batting around and plating seven runs for the 8-3 defeat of the Yankees.
Gamel went 3-5 with a double, a run scored, a steal and a RBI. Mason Williams went 2-5 with a run scored. Gary Sanchez went 2-4 with a RBI and a walk. Eduardo Sosa went 3-4 and Angelo Gumbs went 0-5. Shane Greene made the start and threw five strong innings. He allowed one run on five hits and two walks, striking out eight.
Charleston beat Greenville 6-2 in Game 1: Once again, Cito Culver started the game with a single, but the RiverDogs were unable to take advantage of it. The Drive threatened in the bottom of the inning, putting runners on the corners, but Rafael De Paula, making his first start stateside, got out of the jam. After two strikeouts to start the second, the RiverDogs rallied. Peter O'Brien and Saxon Butler hit back-to-back doubles, plating the first run of the day. A single by Taylor Dugas plated Butler and Charleston had a 2-0 lead. Greenville got a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth and the game stayed tied until the top of the ninth. Dugas drew a leadoff walk and Culver followed with the same. Robert Refsnyder was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. After a grounder by Gregory Bird resulted in Dugas being out at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Culver to score, giving Charleston the lead once again. Dante Bichette lined a single to left, plating two more runs. Another O'Brien double plated Bichette and the Yankees held a 6-2 lead. Charlie short came in to close, allowing one single but preserving the victory for Charleston.
De Paula went 4.1 innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits, one walk and eleven strikeouts. He may not have gotten the win, but overall it was a nice start for the much touted hurler. Alex Smith replaced him and threw 3.2 innings, allowing just two hits and striking out four. O'Brien went 2-5 with two doubles, a RBI and a run scored. Butler went 2-4 with a run scored, a double, a RBI and a walk. Refsnyder went 1-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored. Culver went 1-4 with a walk and a run scored.
Charleston lost to Greenville 8-4: The RiverDogs picked up right where they left off in Game 2. Dugas lined a single to left and Culver tripled him in. Bichette drew a walk and Bird grounded a single to right, plating Culver. Bichette, however, was out trying to reach third. Refsnyder hit a grounder to the Greenville first baseman, who bobbled it, allowing him to reach. Butler then doubled to left, scoring Bird and giving Charleston a 3-0 lead. Of course, as good as they looked in the top of the inning, the RiverDogs played some ugly baseball in the bottom of the inning. Mike Miller started off with a single and Bryan Jones reached after a slow grounder went under Culver's glove for an error. The RiverDogs got their first out on a fly out to right and should have gotten an easy second out when Boss Moanaroa hit an easy pop to the left of the mound. Charleston pitcher, Derek Varnadore, looked like he was lined up, but three infielders collapsed on him, calling him off as the ball dropped onto the field for a "single" and loading the bases. Aneury Tavarez doubled in two runs and David Chester followed with a two-run single to give the Drive a 4-3 lead. The Drive added another run in the bottom of the second, but Charleston got it back in the top of the third on a Yeicok Calderon homer. Unfortunately, Greenville started to pull away, scoring two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth. Charleston started the last four innings of the game by getting the leadoff hitter on base. Fu-Lin Kuo and Gregory Bird both hit doubles to start the fourth and fifth, Kuo drew a walk to start the sixth and Bird singled in the top of the seventh. The RiverDogs couldn't bring them home any of those times and took the 8-4 loss.
Gregory Bird went 3-4 with a double, a RBI and a run scored. Culver went 2-4 with a RBI, a run scored, a double and a triple. Kuo went 2-2 with a double and a walk. Varnadore lasted just two innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on six hits and four walks, striking out two. Phillip Wetherell pitched the other four innings, giving up three runs on six hits, a walk and four Ks.