Jaron Long solves Urena in critical bases loaded at-bat to preserve shutout victory
During Wednesday’s doubleheader, New Hampshire’s Richard Urena had his way with Harrisburg pitching. The shortstop went 5-for-7 with a double, triple, and three runs batted in to power the Fisher Cats as they swept the twinbill from the Senators. Thursday’s game at FNB Field was no different for Urena. The #4 prospect in the Blue Jays system per MLB.com collected a triple and double in his first two at-bats off Senators’ starter Jaron Long. To say Urena was hot at the plate might have been an understatement.
But as Urena strode to the plate in the top of the fifth inning, Long needed to find a way to get him out if he wanted to keep the Fisher Cats off the board. Thanks to a leadoff single and a pair of four-pitch walks interspersed with two flyball outs, the bases were loaded with no place to put him or pitch around him. This was the last New Hampshire batter anyone in the Harrisburg dugout wanted to see up in that situation. Pitching coach Chris Michalak called time and paid a visit to the mound to settle Long down and refocus him before the critical at-bat.
From the stretch, Long’s first pitch was a breaking ball down and in that Urena tapped foul down the first base line. The second pitch of the sequence was a change-up that again caught Urena off-balance as he pulled the ball on a bounce to Jose Marmolejos who took it himself to record the third out of the inning and end the rally.
That potential run was crucial. Deadlocked in a 0-0 tie, both teams were struggling at the plate so one run more than likely would be enough to stand for victory. Long had already danced out of trouble in previous innings when New Hampshire had baserunners on third base with less than two outs but failed to plate any runs. Manager Matt LeCroy knew the circumstances too as he brought the infield in during those situations to keep the Fisher Cats scoreless.
“He threw the ball in and set up the ball away. It was pretty impressive,” LeCroy said about Long’s outing. “He trusts what he’s doing and he competes no matter what the situation is. He gives you a chance every time out without having electric stuff.”
The first pitch Shane Dawson delivered in the bottom half of that same inning Isaac Ballou greeted with a swing that lifted the ball into the Senators’ bullpen to give the home team a one-run advantage. Staked to a lead, Long along with relievers Erick Fedde and Wander Suero made the home run stick as the Senators ended their homestand with a 1-0 win over the Fisher Cats.
“We needed that one a little bit,” LeCroy said. “It’s always good to get on that bus with a W.”
One night after Neftali Soto’s hitting streak came to an end, Marmolejos had his own streak come to a halt as the first baseman went 0-for-3. Marmolejos had reached base safely, either by a hit or walk, in all 17 games he had played in so far this season for the Senators.
The Senators were held to just two hits all night making it their low output of the season…Drew Ward had the only other hit for Harrisburg…Suero’s perfect ninth inning sealed his tenth save of the season tying him for the Eastern League lead with Trenton’s Cale Coshow.