The Trenton Thunder cashed in on a late-inning, bases loaded opportunity to break up a scoreless tie and take the series with a 2-0 victory over the Harrisburg Senators on Sunday afternoon at FNB Field.
Trenton starter Will Carter and two relievers stifled the Senators’ offense, holding them to six hits and two walks while striking out eight. Harrisburg countered with Taylor Hill who was in control as he matched zero for zero through seven innings. But after striking out Jhalan Jackson to lead off the eighth, Hill allowed three straight singles to load the bases.
The predicament chased Hill from the game as manager Matt LeCroy brought in Andrew Robinson. The veteran reliever struck out Nick Solak looking to get one out closer to getting out of trouble. The next Thunder hitter, Mike Ford, delivered a groundball between second baseman Corban Joseph and first baseman Drew Ward. Joseph slid to corral the ball but when he popped up to make a throw lost the handle and the ball trickled away. It was far enough to score two runs on a batted ball that barely made it out of the infield.
Hill yielded seven hits, didn’t allow a free pass, and struck out a season-high six batters while collaring the hard luck loss. “He mixed it up well,” LeCroy said. “He threw inside. He got them off-balance and then started throwing his slower breaking ball and it got him through the middle part of the game.”
The Senators had only two baserunners reach third base in the entire game as a combination of quality pitching from Trenton and abbreviated at-bats from the home side resulted in little to no offensive chances. “They have quality arms,” LeCroy said. “They study. You can tell they know how to pitch every guy.”
“We didn’t get the hit and they did. It’s as simple as that.”
Victor Robles, the Nationals’ top prospect, was pulled from the game after batting in the bottom of the fifth inning. LeCroy wasn’t pleased with Robles’ effort running the bases on his flare to center field and subsequent force out at second base on a fielder’s choice.
“We have a certain standard and it was just a teaching point,” the skipper said.
The 20-year-old outfielder finished 2-for-3 including a bunt single to raise his batting average to .306 in 25 games with the Senators.
The defeat, their 71st of the season, clinched a losing campaign for the Senators…reliever Kyle Schepel tossed a scoreless top of the ninth for Harrisburg……the shutout was the 11th time this year the Senators were blanked.
It’s a common expression when talking to Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy. It refers to preventing the opposing team from posting runs immediately following when the Senators score. LeCroy wishes it was another advanced statistic to track and use to evaluate pitchers and teams. It’s been an issue with the Senators all season and it reared its ugly head once again on Saturday night.
Each time the Senators pulled to within one run in the seventh and eighth innings, Trenton wasted little time answering with a run of their own off reliever Matthew Crownover. In the seventh, Zack Zehner led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly from the next batter. An inning later, Nick Solak drilled the first pitch of the frame into the Harrisburg bullpen to push the lead back to two runs.
So instead of the Senators needing just one run to tie to the game up in the late innings, they were forced to score a couple. In each of the last three innings the Senators put their leadoff hitter on second base to start the frame. But instead of strategizing for that one run to tie the game up, they were forced to play for a multi-run rally.
Ultimately, Harrisburg had a golden opportunity in the ninth as they loaded the bases with one out. But Trenton reliever Cody Carroll struck out Victor Robles and Yadiel Hernandez to strand the runners and end the game with the Senators on the losing end, 6-4.
Harrisburg starter Austin Voth tossed what LeCroy called his “best outing” as the right-hander silenced the Thunder offense for six innings. As the storm clouds gathered, Trenton got to Voth in the seventh as an error, single, and homer erased the shutout and lead in one fell swoop.
It was an advantage the Thunder would never relinquish collaring the loss for Voth, his second against three wins for Harrisburg. The 25-year-old walked three, struck out two, and allowed six hits in his outing.
The two teams endured a one hour, eight minute rain delay called right after Trenton took the lead in the seventh inning…Robles and Drew Ward paced the offense as each had two hits apiece…Darian Sandford stole his 18th base of the season on the front end of a double steal with Robles.
Harrisburg used two long balls and some shutdown pitching for a 5-1 triumph over the Trenton Thunder on Friday night at FNB Field. The victory was the Senators’ fourth straight making it their longest winning streak of the season.
“A lot of good things,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “We had the big homers, but we failed a couple of times with the bases loaded that would have given us some extra insurance. I’m happy what the guys are doing. They’re playing hard and playing competitive baseball.”
Starter Wirkin Estevez held down the potent Thunder lineup as the 25-year-old right-hander allowed just one base hit in six scoreless innings of work. At times it wasn’t pretty as Estevez (4-1) walked four batters, but the two-time Tommy John survivor made the pitches when he had to keep Trenton off the scoreboard. A two-out single from Francisco Diaz in the fifth inning broke up Estevez’s modest no-hit bid.
“He (Estevez) made some in-game adjustments even though he walked some guys,” LeCroy said. “I thought he did a nice job. He kept us in and pitched well with the lead.”
The Senators raced out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as Victor Robles led off with a double and scored on successive groundouts with good situational hitting from Corban Joseph and Jose Marmolejos. Raudy Read followed with a home run, his team-leading 16th of the season, off Trenton starter Dillon Tate.
“I think he’s getting stronger,” LeCroy said. “A lot of times catchers break down, but you can tell a lot of the work he’s done in the weight room is helping him stay strong. The bat speed is there and he’s able to maintain some good life behind there catching almost every day.”
In the fourth inning, Harrisburg doubled their lead as Dan Gamache jacked a two-run shot with a moonshot over the right field fence. The first baseman has been just what the Senators needed mostly hitting fifth in the batting order.
“I think it takes a little heat off of Raudy to get going and it moves Ward down to take some heat off of him too,” LeCroy said. “He has a good, simple approach to the ball. It shows because he is able to hit good fastballs and stay back on the off-speed.”
Read would get another hit, his third of the game, to drive in the Senators’ final run to add an insurance tally in the eighth.
The Senators have the best batting average in the Eastern League during August at .298 and have also scored the most runs (90) in their 17 games. Six Senators, including Joseph’s .524 and Gamache’s .389, are batting .300 or better for the month. The club has also knocked double-digit hits in four of the past five games and is averaging just under 10 hits per game in August.
Read has now hit five home runs over his past six games…in Yadiel Hernandez’s last 50 games the outfielder is slashing .331/.415/.528 with 28 runs scored and 29 RBIs…with two scoreless innings to finish the game, Dakota Bacus pocketed his second save with Harrisburg this season.
The Binghamton Rumble Ponies completed a three-game sweep against the Harrisburg Senators with a 8-6 victory. Both teams combined for 28 hits in the game.
Facing Harrisburg starter Wirkin Estevez, the Rumble Ponies brought the lumber in the Sunday getaway day contest. Binghamton scored in four of the five innings Estevez pitched as the 25-year-old right-hander allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks.
Harrisburg though had just as much success off Robert Gsellman, pitching for the Ponies in his third Major League rehab start. The Senators plated three runs in the first and third inning to take a brief 6-5 lead and chase Gsellman from the game. Yadiel Hernandez stayed hot with a double and walk in both innings to drive in three runs. Jose Marmolejos and Jake Lowery each plated a run with an RBI groundout and double respectively.
Binghamton broke the 6-6 tie in the top of the sixth inning off Senators’ reliever Dakota Bacus. A walk, single, and fly out that advanced the lead run to third base set the stage for Kevin Kaczmarski who delivered a single through the box to put the Rumble Ponies up for good. Binghamton added an insurance run in the ninth off Andrew Robinson as Gustavo Nunez hit a solo home run.
The Senators threatened in the ninth as Dan Gamache and Drew Ward led off the frame with back-to-back singles. After a sacrifice bunt from Hernandez pushed both tying runs up into scoring position, Harrisburg couldn’t come up with the big hit as Khayyan Norfork struck out and Lowery flew out to end the game.
Hernandez went 2-for-2 with two walks to raise his batting average to .281 on the season. The 29-year-old outfielder has been on an impressive tear since July 1 as he is slashing .347/.426/.526 in 30 games with 17 runs driven in.
Gamache reached base all five plate appearances as the first baseman went 2-for-2 with three walks …Ward registered his sixth multi-hit game in his last 10 played… Braulio Lara and Brady Dragmire each threw a scoreless inning of relief.
The Binghamton Rumble Ponies scored five runs in the seventh inning to overcome the Harrisburg Senators, 7-4, on Saturday night at FNB Field.
“That’s been our season,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “We get hits but we can’t hold it or we pitch well and can’t get the hits.”
Held scoreless through the first five innings by Binghamton starter Marcos Molina, the Senators finally broke through to take the lead. Three singles from Victor Robles, Jose Marmolejos, and Raudy Read loaded the bases as Harrisburg moved station-to-station to bring up Drew Ward. The third baseman delivered his first grand slam in his professional career, a towering shot that cleared the right field boardwalk, to give the Senators a 4-2 advantage.
The lead, however, was short lived as about 10 minutes later the Rumble Ponies rallied off Senators’ reliever Tim Collins for the deciding runs. Two walks, a single, and a double knotted the score up at four, but the big blow came when Luis Guillorme connected for a three-run opposite field home run, his first long ball of the season. Marmolejos got a glove on the homer as he leapt but couldn’t quite bring it back over the wall.
Harrisburg starter Matthew Crownover gave the Senators a chance as the southpaw allowed only two runs on six hits in six innings of work. Other than the top of the third when the Ponies plated two, Crownover faced only one batter over the minimum in every other inning.
“He finds a way,” LeCroy said. “He’s still a little up and they hit some balls good off of him. I can’t argue with him giving us a chance to win.”
Ward registered his fifth multi-hit game in his last nine games and has raised his average 15 points during the stretch.
“He’s worked hard,” LeCroy said. “He’s just trying to find that good hitting position that gets him on the ball a little bit more. Obviously if you look at the numbers, he swings and misses way too much. It’s looking a lot shorter but he still has a ways to go. Hopefully he can finish up strong here down the stretch.”
Robles, Ward, and Yadiel Hernandez were the only batters to reach base twice…Collins, who is making his way back from Tommy John surgery, became the shortest pitcher (at 5’7”) to play for the Senators in the modern era… Kyle Schepel and Ryan Brinley each worked an inning of scoreless relief.
For the second straight game, the Senators’ starting pitcher tossed a complete game in a losing effort. Unfortunately, that was because the rains came and washed Friday night’s game away with Harrisburg trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Binghamton jumped on Harrisburg starter Greg Ross in the first inning. The 27-year-old allowed all three runs on a double, two singles, and a couple of walks as he faced eight batters before the home team even came to bat.
“He couldn’t pitch down and he was behind,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “He fought himself, but then he settled down and did a nice job. I’m happy because he has had a rough stretch of games. Hopefully that will give him some more confidence to get back to what he’s capable of doing.”
Harrisburg inched back within a run in the second inning as Yadiel Hernandez hit an opposite-field two-run home run off former Senator Tommy Milone. That was as close as Harrisburg would come even though they threatened with base runners in each of the following innings.
Playing under an ominous sky for most of the game, the Senators outhit the Ponies 7-5 as Khayyan Norfork went 2-for-3 to lead the offense.
“We’ve been swinging the bats a little better and playing some better ball,” LeCroy said. “Hopefully we can string some things together here at the end.”
The Nationals’ top prospect Victor Robles was removed for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning. After the game, LeCroy discussed that it pertained to Robles’ technique in the outfield. “We’re working on him catching the ball correctly,” the skipper said. “It had to be addressed. He understands.”
Milone, who went 12-5 with a 2.85 ERA for Harrisburg in 2010, was making his second appearance with the Ponies as part of his Major League rehab. The 30-year-old southpaw has been on the New York Mets’ disabled list since May 24.
Ross went six innings allowing five hits and walking three while striking out three…Raudy Read picked up his 22nd double of the season with a two-bagger down the right field line…Hernandez is now slashing .387/.435/.597 in 19 games since the All-Star break.
The Senators held on for a wild 11-9 win over the Portland Sea Dogs on Sunday afternoon at FNB Field. They should be glad there is no such thing as style points when it comes to wins and losses, because in no way did it ever look pretty. But with the team mired in last place in the Western Division of the Eastern League, the Senators will take every victory they can.
“Ugly, ugly, and ugly,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “There were a couple of times today where our offense could have tacked on and today was definitely a day we needed all we could get. It was a wild and crazy game. We found a way to get the last out.”
It’s not ideal for the starting pitcher to walk the leadoff batter to start the game. It’s even less so when you walk the first three batters of the game like Senators’ starter Matthew Crownover did. But the 24-year-old southpaw, whose pitch count escalated so quickly that Derek Self started warming in the bullpen, limited the damage to two runs in the frame. Crownover allowed a solo homer in the second but settled down nicely after that posting zeroes in the third, fourth, and fifth innings while the Harrisburg offense responded to take the lead.
The Senators used the long ball early to overcome the Sea Dogs’ advantage as Khayyan Norfork put the Senators on the board with a two-run home run, his third of the season. Victor Robles and Corban Joseph followed in the next inning with back-to-back jacks to put the Senators on top. It was a lead they would never relinquish, although the outcome was in question until the final out settled in Robles’ glove.
Yadiel Hernandez picked up his teammates on two separate occasions as the right-fielder delivered two key two-out base hits to drive in three and give the Senators a sizable cushion. The 29-year-old Cuban garnered so much respect from the Sea Dogs that the next time he came to the plate with two outs and runners at second and third, they intentionally walked him to load the bases.
Norfork made them pay for it, however, as he cleared the bases with a double down the left field line. The extra-base hit capped a career day for the 28-year-old utility player who set a personal best with five runs driven in topping his previous best of four which he accomplished in his very first professional game over six years ago.
“He brings a great attitude every day,” LeCroy said. “I’m glad he’s doing well. Every year he has had to fight for a spot on a team. This year I think he has actually earned that spot.”
The Sea Dogs used three Senators’ errors to keep clawing back in the game to make things interesting. The tying runs were left stranded on second and third as Andrew Robinson induced the game-ending fly out for his fifth save of the season.
Hernandez finished 3-for-3 in the game to raise his batting average to .276 for the season…Crownover picked up his first Double-A win with the 5.1 inning outing…despite allowing an inherited runner to score, Dakota Bacus pitched well in his return to City Island as the right-hander worked 1.2 scoreless innings.
After dropping the first game of the doubleheader, 9-3, against the Sea Dogs, the Senators found themselves down 2-0 early in the nightcap with Portland starter Trey Ball in control the first time through the Harrisburg batting order. The Sea Dogs looked well on their way to a doubleheader sweep.
But the Senators got to the southpaw in the bottom of the fourth as Jose Marmolejos led off the inning with a walk. Raudy Read followed with a double off the left field wall and then Dan Gamache rolled a single up the middle to score both runs and even the game up at two.
The momentum had definitely shifted in Harrisburg’s favor as Drew Ward followed with another single to put runners on the corners with no outs. But just as quickly, Ball worked out of the jam as the Senators failed to get the go-ahead run in as Stephen Perez struck out, Jake Lowery popped out to the catcher in foul territory, and Khayyan Norfork flew out to right field.
Buoyed by the turn of events, Portland re-took the lead against Harrisburg reliever Jimmy Cordero. Deiner Lopez led off the inning with a single, was balked to second, sacrificed to third, and scored on a wild pitch. The Sea Dogs weren’t done in the frame either as Henry Urrutia punctuated the rally with a three-run home run just to the right of the batter’s eye in dead center.
“We got back in it, then we just didn’t pitch,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “We just have to do a better job all around. We didn’t take advantage of scoring opportunities and our pitching late didn’t help. That’s where we’ve been at all year, trying to find that shutdown inning and not letting the momentum go back to the other dugout. It happened in the first game and it happened in the nightcap.”
Harrisburg would get one back as Marmolejos clubbed his second homer of the night, but Portland responded with two more as Portland outfielder Jeremy Barfield did one better with his second long ball of the game. That put the finishing touches on the Sea Dogs’ 8-3 victory.
In the opening game of the double dip, Portland overwhelmed Harrisburg starter Greg Ross to win going away.
The Sea Dogs drew first blood as Michael Chavis launched a two-run home run in the top of the first. But Marmolejos answered him with a three-run homer in the bottom half of the inning to put Harrisburg up 3-2.
That was all the offense the Senators could muster, but not the Sea Dogs as they pounded out nine runs on 10 hits and three walks off Ross.
Lastly, I had to get the skipper’s thoughts on the Senators’ giveaway for the night, the Santa LeCroy bobblebelly.
A man and his Bobblebelly pic.twitter.com/QU63mYG9lH
— Harrisburg Senators (@HbgSenators) July 29, 2017
“You saw by the crowd that it was a big hit,” LeCroy said tongue in cheek. “I’m sure I’ll have a big line of them out here to sign after the game.”
LeCroy’s 9-year old son Noah was a little blunter in his assessment: “I was expecting the belly would be bigger.”
Osvaldo Abreu was held out of both games of the doubleheader with some tightness in his calf, but LeCroy clarified that it was merely a precautionary measure…reliever Kyle Schepel worked the final two scoreless innings in the first game…Brady Dragmire was called on to make the spot start, only his second of the season in 31 appearances, and tossed four solid innings as he allowed two runs in the nightcap.
For the second straight game, Harrisburg overcame a late deficit to post a come from behind victory as they victimized the Portland Sea Dogs to come out of FNB Field with a 4-3 win on Thursday evening.
The Senators got on the board first behind back-to-back hits in the second inning as Osvaldo Abreu doubled and Yadiel Hernandez singled him home. Harrisburg would add another run in the fifth inning as Victor Robles, in the heralded prospect’s home debut, drove in Hernandez from second base with a double. Despite two runners in scoring position, the Senators failed to plate additional runs as Corban Joseph and Jose Marmolejos struck out in succession.
Starting pitcher Austin Voth made the two runs stick during his outing as he stifled the Sea Dog batters. The 25-year-old right-hander tossed six strong innings allowing one run on five hits while striking out six. “I thought he had better rhythm and the game tempo was better,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “He threw some really good off-speed pitches.”
The Senators held on to their slim 2-1 advantage until the top of the eighth inning when Portland got to reliever Derek Self. Leading off the frame, Joseph Monge launched a home run to tie the game up and then took the lead on a couple more base hits. Cole Sturgeon followed with a double after he got a second life during his at-bat as a pop foul fell between catcher Raudy Read, Self, and first baseman Dan Gamache. Sturgeon strolled home on a Michael Chavis double to give the Sea Dogs their first lead of the game, 3-2.
But the Senators once again provided the late inning heroics with a rally off Portland relievers Trevor Kelley and Bobby Poyner. After Read struck out to begin the inning, Gamache doubled down the left field line to put the tying run in scoring position. Drew Ward battled and finally drove a pitch back up the middle that allowed Gamache to score just ahead of the throw. Abreu followed with a single that moved Ward up to third and Hernandez plated the winning run with a sacrifice fly to deep left field.
“He’s (Ward) been fighting through some stuff,” LeCroy said. “He’s been hot, then very, very cold. He’s starting to slow some things down a little bit and his position is a little bit better. He’s still got a lot of work.”
Andrew Robinson worked a scoreless ninth to pocket his fourth save of the season…Senators batters five through eight (Gamache, Ward, Abreu, and Hernandez) accounted for eight of the team’s ten hits…Harrisburg is now 3-1 against Portland in their season series.
Looking for their first four-game winning streak of the season, the Harrisburg Senators fell 3-1 to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on Sunday afternoon. The loss also prevented the Senators from sweeping their first four-game series at FNB Field since June 2016.
Coming off a seven-inning complete game shutout five days ago, Binghamton P.J. Conlon twirled six more shutout innings before Harrisburg chased the southpaw from the game in the seventh inning with a single and a walk. Harrisburg second baseman Stephen Perez greeted reliever Tim Peterson with a single through the right side that scored Yadiel Hernandez from second base to put the Senators on the board. Peterson was able to induce a groundout and strikeout to leave the tying two runs on in scoring position.
Despite collaring the loss, Taylor Hill pitched one of his better games of the season as the 28-year-old right-hander held the Rumble Ponies to one run on three hits through six. But the seventh proved to be his downfall as well as Binghamton tacked on two more runs to give them an extra cushion in the late innings. Hill walked one and struck out two as he tossed 85 pitches over seven innings.
“He mixed in his really, really soft breaking ball to make his fastball play a little bit harder,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “He’s getting better every time. That’s a good sign for him. I think he’s gaining some confidence in his fastball that he can throw it for strikes.”
Perez, who was reassigned from Syracuse as the corresponding move when Alec Keller was placed on the disabled list on Saturday, arrived at FNB Field last night after the Senators’ 7-3 win. The infielder went 2-for-3 and hit the ball hard each time he came to the plate.
Braulio Lara and Brady Dragmire each tossed a scoreless inning of relief for Harrisburg…Hernandez joined Perez as the only two players with multiple hits on the day…the Senators head to Richmond for a three-game series before returning home for another four-game weekend set hosting the Portland Sea Dogs, Class AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, for their only visit to FNB Field in 2017.