Results tagged ‘ Neftali Soto ’
Although the score between the Senators and SeaWolves was more suited to a football game, I assure you baseball was played at FNB Field on Monday night. Over three hours of it, and it was rarely pretty. If you like dominating pitching and slick fielding, aesthetically this wasn’t the game for you. But the two teams provided plenty of offense to keep things exciting as both put up early touchdowns, I mean 7-run innings.
Harrisburg sent 11 batters to the plate in their big inning aided by two routine plays the SeaWolves flubbed for errors. They chased Erie starter Tyler Alexander with a single, two doubles, a triple, and a Khayyan Norfork home run. Erie reliever Santiago Garrido didn’t fare much better as Neftali Soto welcomed him into the game with a blast off the pavilion roof over the left-centerfield boardwalk to give the Senators the seven run cushion.
But Harrisburg starter Mark Blackmar ran into trouble as Erie put together their own rally in the the top of fourth inning capped off by Jeff McVaney‘s three-run homer that tied the game up and sent Blackmar to the showers.
The lead changed hands back and forth until Alec Keller, who was the last Senator batter without a hit, delivered a two-out double that cleared the bases and put the Senators up for good. “He didn’t have good at-bats early, but he got that big hit,” said manager Matt LeCroy.
“I think it was a big win for us after a couple of letdowns against Hartford. It could have been one of those nights too, but we bounced back.”
Norfork came into the game with only 11 home runs in his professional career over 1,736 plate appearances and none at the Double-A level. In fact, the last time he went yard in a game was August 18, 2015 playing for Potomac in Wilmington.
“That’s the biggest park we play in too,” Norfork joked. “I save all my homers for the big parks. All these other parks are kind of small. Any time we play in a big park I show off my power.”
The Tennessee native has gotten the start at second base the last two games and has made the most of his opportunity going 4-for-6. “He’s that guy that comes to work everyday and no matter if he’s playing or not, he’s got life and energy and willing to do whatever,” LeCroy said. “It’s always good to see a kid that gets in there and does his job.”
For his part, Norfork remains positive and prepared despite limited playing time. “I’ve really been just trying to be patient and see pitches,” Norfork said. “My previous at-bats before the last few days I’ve been trying to force it, being too aggressive.”
It’s understandable that with fewer chances, Norfork would struggle with his approach at the plate but he’s not looking to justify any struggles. “That’s the easy excuse to use,” he said. “But hitting is still the same.”
The 28-year-old utility player has an infectious smile and attitude that doesn’t go unnoticed by his skipper. “He’s got some things he needs to figure out more consistently on the offensive side, but he’s a guy you want around in your dugout and clubhouse,” LeCroy said. “Being that extra person, he’s what you want.”
Norfork and Soto’s homers in the second inning were the first time this season the Senators have hit two long balls in the same game, let alone the same inning…The 17 hits recorded by Harrisburg was a season-high…Both teams combined for 16 extra-base hits…Drew Ward crushed his fourth home run of the season out of the deepest part of the park above the 405 sign and off the top of the ribbon board…Erie’s Zach Cox was the only batter for either team who failed to get a hit…Ryan Brinley picked up the win and Wander Suero his fourth save of the season.
After the first two Hartford batters of the game were retired via strikeout and fly out, it appeared like Harrisburg starting pitcher Austen Williams was cruising to a scoreless first inning of work. Eight batters and five runs later, Williams’s afternoon was done as manager Matt LeCroy pulled the righthander with a 1-1 count on leadoff hitter Max White’s second at-bat of the frame.
The Yard Goats’ lineup pounded the 24-year-old’s offerings as he allowed three straight singles, walked a batter, gave up a grand slam, allowed a single to the opposing pitcher, and beaned the final player in the batting order. By this point Williams had thrown 37 pitches in the inning and the Washington Nationals organization has a strict 40-pitch limit per inning on all of their pitchers.
Williams’s start was the shortest for a Harrisburg starter since Phillips Valdez also worked only 0.2 innings last July 3 in Reading.
Derek Self was the first guy out of the bullpen for LeCroy on Sunday and he turned in one of his best performances at a time the team needed him the most. The 27-year-old reliever retired all 10 batters he faced including three strikeouts on a very efficient 35 pitches.
“He gave us three-plus innings,” LeCroy said. “I thought the bullpen did a good job keeping the score where it was and giving us a chance, but offensively we couldn’t get back in it.”
For Self who has had up-and-down results in 72 appearances over parts of four seasons in Harrisburg, it was a gentle reminder of what probably works best for the Kentucky native.
“That was a good learning experience,” Self said. “Myself I know there are times when I get called up for one inning or to close out a game and sometimes you try to do too much. Most times it backfires. Sometimes you just have to take a step back, and pitch with the abilities you have.”
In the top of the fourth inning, LeCroy made an interesting defensive switch as he flip-flopped leftfielder Mario Lisson and first baseman Neftali Soto. For Soto, it was only the second time he played the outfield professionally as the other time was for the Louisville Bats on the last day of the 2012 season.
“He told me he played one day in the outfield when he was 13, so that was good enough for me to put him out there,” LeCroy said.
The expected return of Jose Marmolejos in the near future necessitates finding at-bats for Soto in places other than first base.
The Senators avoided a shutout when Zach Collier singled home Khayyan Norfork from third base in the eighth inning…Soto and Norfork were the only two Senators with multiple hits as the team scratched out only six total…After a disastrous Friday night where he walked the bases loaded for all three batters he faced, Braulio Lara once again found the strike zone to work two scoreless innings.
Neftali Soto wasn’t the only Harrisburg Senator who struggled during their three-game series in Trenton against the Thunder. After all, the Senators were shut out in two games and managed to scratch out only 18 hits in the set, 15 of which were singles.
“We just ran into some good pitching on the road trip,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “A little bump in the road with the wins and losses, but they had some good arms.”
Soto wasn’t exactly tearing the cover off the baseball before the Senators’ bus rolled into Trenton, but the first baseman had put together a modest six-game hitting streak batting out of the cleanup spot in the order. But when the 28-year-old scuffles to a 1-for-11 series, it’s noticed because Soto is counted on to be such a big part of the Harrisburg offense. When he goes cold at the plate, even for just a little bit, the Senators run production typically disappears into a string of zeroes on the scoreboard.
But Thursday night at FNB Field, Soto put the Thunder series behind him and led the Senators to a 6-2 victory over the Hartford Yard Goats.
Deadlocked at two apiece in the eighth inning, Drew Ward worked a leadoff walk against Hartford reliever D.J. Johnson to bring Soto to the plate. Soto jumped on Johnson’s first offering, a belt-high fastball, and unloaded a line drive that caromed off the scoreboard in right field.
“I was just looking for a pitch that I could hit hard,” Soto said. “The last couple of games have been kind of rough.”
Earlier in the bottom of the sixth inning, Soto tied the game up with a sacrifice fly that he crushed into centerfield but hung up in the swirling winds. “He hit that better than the home run ball,” LeCroy said.
“It’s good to see him get going a little bit.”
A trio of Senators’ relievers and some shaky infield defense made things interesting the last three frames. RC Orlan, Ryan Brinley, and Wander Suero each worked around some combination of hits, walks, or errors in getting the final nine outs without allowing a run.
The southpaw Orlan struggled finding the strike zone especially against left-handed batters as he walked two sandwiched around a Ward error at third base. But Orlan battled back and struck out Ashley Graeter and got Eastern League April Player of the Month, Ryan McMahon, to ground out to second.
“He had trouble with all lefties until the last one,” LeCroy said. “Lefties are going to be his bread and butter. He’s got to be a little bit better throwing strikes, but he found a way to get out of it.”
“I’m going to keep putting him in some of these situations. He’s earned that right to do it. He’s done pretty well when we give him the ball.”
Brinley was victimized by a pair of errors, Ozzie Abreu fumbling a high chopper and Ward dropping a pop-up between home and the mound, but also managed to escape unscathed. With a four-run cushion, Suero worked around a pair of hits in the ninth to secure the victory for the Senators.
ICYMI: John Simms notched another quality start scattering four hits and allowing two runs over six solid innings. Simms has yet to allow more than two earned runs in any of his five starts this season…although the Senators were only 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, that is a little misleading as Ward, Soto, and pinch-hitter Mario Lisson all delivered sacrifice flies to get baserunners home from third base with less than two outs.
Charles Dickens began his classic novel A Tale of Two Cities with the famous opening line, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” After a week and a half of games, the same could very easily be said of Senators’ players Raudy Read and Ozzie Abreu. Both are getting their first taste of Double-A Harrisburg to start the 2017 season and while one prospect flourishes, the other flails.
Read, a 23-year-old catcher, has adapted to the better pitching and looks like he has already made the necessary adjustments to succeed at this level. In eight games so far, Read has four doubles and two home runs while driving in seven runs to match Neftali Soto for the team lead.
“I think going to big league camp and comparing himself to all these other players, he realizes he’s close. He sees if he goes out and competes and plays the game right, he’s there,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “I think that shows in the way he’s been going out and doing his work.”
Throughout his career, Read has been known as an offense first option behind the plate, but the backstop has impressed his skipper with other tools. “I think he’s done a really nice job with our pitching staff. That’s what I’ve been pleased with,” LeCroy said.
On the other hand, Abreu has struggled in his opening salvo with the Senators. The 22-year-old shortstop is hitting a meager .147 thanks to only five singles in 35 plate appearances. At the plate Abreu appears overwhelmed at times as evident by his 15 strikeouts. “The game is a little faster at this level, but I think he’ll catch up,” LeCroy said pointing to Abreu’s respectable numbers in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League last fall where he slashed .267/.303/.317.
After batting second during the opening week, LeCroy moved the scuffling Abreu down to eighth for Saturday’s game. Hopefully, the lower spot in the batting order will take pressure off the shortstop until he can get his feet under him.
PITCHING LEADS THE WAY
Although the Senators came away with only one win in their three game set against Bowie, Harrisburg has to be happy with the way they pitched against the potent Baysox lineup. In the first seven games of the season against Akron and Erie, Bowie averaged over seven runs a game and had clubbed 33 extra-base hits including 11 home runs. The Senators limited the veteran lineup to just 12 total runs and only four doubles and one home run in the entire series.
Overall, the Senators pitching has been their strongest asset so far as the staff has posted a 3.20 ERA (second only to Altoona in the Eastern League) and given away the fewest base on balls in the league. Led by Nationals’ top pitching prospect Erick Fedde,the starting pitchers have been excellent so far this season and have carried the load admirably. In two starts, Fedde has tossed 11 scoreless innings while holding opponents to a .171 batting average. As a unit, the starters are pitching to a 2.50 ERA while allowing a minuscule 1.09 WHIP.
CLEANING UP FROM THE CLEAN-UP SPOT
Much like he did last season for 93 games, Neftali Soto has provided the big veteran bat the Senators need in the middle of their lineup. He has provided protection for Drew Ward batting in front of him and has taken some pressure off Double-A rookies Read and Alec Keller behind him. Soto is in the top ten in the league in batting with a .382 average and has only whiffed twice in 39 plate appearances for an Eastern League best rate of 19.5 TPA/SO.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
The injuries to Trea Turner and Stephen Drew at the major league level caused a ripple effect down to the Senators as they embarked on their first road trip of the season. Adrian Sanchez, who had played second base this season but can handle multiple positions defensively, was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse. To fill Sanchez’s roster spot, the Senators activated Zach Collier off the disabled list and the outfielder went 2-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored in his first game action on Saturday afternoon.
Prior to the team arriving in Harrisburg, many of the players drove their vehicles up from spring training so they would have a means of getting around town. The coaching staff is normally not any different, but ths season LeCroy chose to fly here. In the past he has done this at least once before, but then he had gotten a player (Jose Lozada) to drive his pickup truck to the midstate. This time, though, LeCroy pulled what he called “a veteran move” when he left his vehicle here after this year’s Hot Stove banquet in late January.
Altoona takes game one of five-game series
Alex McRae had his best outing since joining the Altoona Curve as he shut down the Senators Thursday night in a 9-3 Curve win. The Sens managed eight hits but could only cross the plate once in the loss. Neftali Soto had three hits in the game and drove in the Senators only run. Altoona is now a season-high 13 games over .500 at 51-38 while the Senators drop four games behind the Curve and are 47-42.
Altoona plated three unearned runs in the first inning and were never threatened in the game. They tacked on a run in the third, three more in the fifth and their final two in the eighth. Boone Whiting started and took the loss. He left the game after taking a line drive off his lower right leg in the fifth inning.
Harrisburg scored their first run in the sixth inning on a double by Andrew Stevenson and a single by Neftali Soto. It looked like the Sens would have other chances but a couple of pick-offs and a double-play killed three potential rallies. Trailing 9-1 in the ninth, Stephen Perez doubled in two runs for the final tallies in the game.
Rafael Bautista had two hits in the game.
Derek Self and Nick Lee followed Whiting, combining to pitch the final four innings.
The Senators and Altoona Curve play two games Friday evening beginning at 5:00 p.m. The games can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 4:45 p.m.
Tyler Mapes sharp again for the Senators
The Harrisburg Senators rode a resurgent offense to pummel the Erie SeaWolves 14-3 on Thursday night in front of 3,110 fans at FNB Field. The win clinched a series victory for Harrisburg (45-40) in their penultimate set before the All-Star break.
“They responded,” manager Matt LeCroy said about the Senators’ reaction to his closed door meeting. “I was really proud of the at-bats, the effort and energy tonight to come up and win the series.”
With Harrisburg leading 3-0 into the fifth, Neftali Soto and the Senators broke the game open with two big innings. Soto became the third Senator this season to drive in seven runs as the first baseman smoked a three-run home run and grand slam on successive at-bats. The long balls were Soto’s ninth and tenth of the season.
The Senators plated a season-high 14 runs on 16 hits including Rafael Bautista who went 4-for-5 and Andrew Stevenson who tallied three base knocks. Wilmer Difo drove in four runs with a home run of his own and Isaac Ballou tripled home a pair when the game was still in question.
“That’s what I’ve been proud of the most,” LeCroy said about his shortstop. “Even though Difo has had offensive struggles, he’s never taken it out to his defense. That’s a sign of maturity and the way he comes prepared every day.”
The runs were more than enough for Harrisburg starter Tyler Mapes who held Erie to one hit through six innings. The SeaWolves eventually got to the right-hander for a pair of runs, but Mapes (8-6) was in control for most of the night in picking up the victory. He scattered five hits while walking one and striking out five.
John Simms worked the final two innings to secure the victory for Harrisburg.
Harrisburg opens a three-game series with the Akron RubberDucks on Friday evening at FNB Field. Michael Brady goes for the Senators opposed by Michael Peoples for the 7:00 p.m. game. The Senators will be wearing Home Improvement themed jerseys to coincide with the appearance of Richard Karn, better known as Al Borland from the sitcom. The specialty jerseys will be auctioned off during and after the game to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 6:45 p.m.
Ross tosses shutout in Game 1; Bats explode in Game 2
The Harrisburg Senators swept a doubleheader, 1-0 and 10-3, over the Erie SeaWolves in front of 2,345 fans on Tuesday evening. Harrisburg (44-39) ended their longest losing streak of the season at five games with the pair of victories.
In the first game of the twinbill, the Senators were held to just one hit but prevailed 1-0 as Greg Ross twirled a gem to outpitch Erie’s Jason Collier. Ross (4-1) induced 13 ground ball outs on his way to a seven-inning complete game shutout where the right-hander allowed five singles and struck out three. Ross lowered his ERA with Harrisburg to a minuscule 0.44 on the season.
“Ross did a nice job. He gave us a really good effort,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “Anytime you win with one hit, it’s good.”
The Senators plated the game’s only run in the second inning when Neftali Soto tripled past a diving Connor Harrell in center field. The next batter, Drew Ward, scored Soto with an RBI groundout for what turned out to be the game-winner. Soto was the only Senator batter to reach base the whole game as the first baseman also walked in his other plate appearance.
In the nightcap, the Senators drew first blood as they scored two-run first inning runs as Erie pitcher Cal Drummond committed both a fielding and throwing error on the same play.
Andrew Robinson walked the tightrope over three innings of work as he made a spot start, his first since 2011, after making his last 193 appearances in relief. The right-hander allowed three hits and walked four, but kept the SeaWolves off the scoreboard as he worked out of bases loaded jams in two frames.
“Robby had some traffic every inning but did a nice job putting up zeroes,” LeCroy said. “We took advantage of some errors and we had some much better at-bats.”
Erie scratched across a run off reliever Ryan Brinley in the fourth inning, but Harrisburg responded with a five-spot in the bottom half. Three straight singles by Ward, Kevin Keyes, and Shawn Pleffner pushed the Senators’ advantage back to two runs. After Pleffner scored on a Stephen Perez swinging bunt, Wilmer Difo broke the game open with a bases loaded single that plated two. Isaac Ballou followed with another RBI single that made the tally 7-1 in Harrisburg’s favor.
Corey Jones belted a two-run home run off Brinley, but 7-3 was the closest the SeaWolves would get as Senators’ catcher Nick Rickles answered with a two-run home run of his own and Keyes lifted a sacrifice fly to finalize the scoring. The Senators’ 12-hit attack was led by Ballou who had three base knocks while Rafael Bautista and Difo each had a pair.
Wander Suero pocketed his first win of the season with one inning of scoreless relief.
Harrisburg continues their series with the SeaWolves on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. at FNB Field. The Senators will send Boone Whiting to the mound to square off against Josh Turley from Erie. Bring your used baseball glove to donate to Baseball Miracles and receive $5 off one box or field box ticket; also, all four-legged friends are welcome at the park as the Senators host Wet Nose Wednesday. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 6:45 p.m.
Soto and Perez both homer for Senators in loss
The Harrisburg Senators led 4-1 after six and a half innings Thursday, but could not protect the lead in a 13-5 loss to the Reading Fightin’ Phils Thursday in front of a big crowd at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Senators (42-36) have lost three of their last four games while allowing 41 runs in that span.
Senators’ starter Boone Whiting threw well early on, allowing just one unearned run in his first six innings of work while his teammates began to build him a lead.
Neftali Soto led off the second inning with a monster home run over the seats beyond the left field wall for his team-leading eighth long ball of the season. In the third inning, Rafael Bautista singled, stole second (his league-leading 35th steal) and scored when Wilmer Difo dumped a single into center field.
Harrisburg added a run in the fifth when Stephen Perez doubled and scored on a Bautista RBI single. Soto doubled with one out in the sixth and scored on an RBI single to right field by Drew Ward.
However, with Harrisburg leading 4-1 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Whiting walked two batters and allowed an RBI single while getting just one out before being relieved by Ryan Brinley. Following an RBI bloop single by Reading’s Jorge Alfaro that cut the Senators’ advantage to 4-3, the Fightin’ Phils took the lead on a three-run home run by Dylan Cozens.
Whiting finished with 6.1 innings pitched in his Senators’ debut, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits while walking three and striking out six.
After Reading added to its lead with back-to-back homers to start the bottom of the eighth inning, Brinley hit Reading’s Jake Fox with a pitch, and was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Rich Grassa. Senators manager Matt LeCroy was then also ejected after an extended argument regarding Brinley’s tossing. Reading went on to score seven runs in the eighth inning as Rhys Hoskins hit a grand slam.
In the ninth inning, Perez drilled his first home run since August 8, 2015 – a solo shot to left. Perez finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Bautista and Soto each finished 2-for-4 while Isaac Ballou had a three-hit game for the Senators, which finished with 11 hits as a team.
Harrisburg and Reading will play the second of four games on Friday night, beginning at 7:05. Tyler Mapes will take the hill for Harrisburg against Reading’s Tyler Viza. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 6:50 p.m.
Reynaldo Lopez matched a career best with 13 strikeouts as the Harrisburg Senators tamed the Reading Fightin’ Phils, 4-1, to take the rubber match in their three-gamer series.
Reading got on the scoreboard early as Jesmuel Valentin led off the game with a triple and scored two batters later. But that was the only run the Fightin’ Phils would get on the day as Lopez (2-5) cruised the rest of the way. The 22-year-old right-hander dominated over seven innings allowing five hits without walking a batter.
“After the first batter, he realized he needed to mix it up. This team can hit,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “The biggest thing with him, like anybody else, is the fastball command and that sets up everything else.”
Harrisburg (37-31) took a lead in the second inning after Brian Jeroloman delivered an RBI single that scored Chris Bostick. The next batter, Stephen Perez, hit a pop foul down the first base line that carried far enough for Zach Collier to tag up and score from third base.
Reading starter Ricardo Pinto and Lopez traded zeroes until Harrisburg pushed across an insurance run in the seventh inning. Perez reached on a throwing error, stole second base, advanced on an errant throw, and waltzed home on Kevin Keyes’ pinch-hit single.
The Fightin’ Phils threatened in the eighth as a hit by pitch and single put runners at the corner off reliever Andrew Robinson. Nick Lee was summoned to face Dylan Cozens, the leading home run hitter in the Eastern League, but the southpaw walked him on five pitches. Wander Suero worked out of the bases loaded jam by inducing a shallow fly to right.
Neftali Soto pushed the Senators’ advantage to 4-1 in the eighth with a solo home run. The dinger was Soto’s second hit of the day as he joined Collier as the only Senators with more than one base knock.
Despite allowing a couple of singles, Suero earned his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth.
Reading’s two big hitters, Cozens and Rhys Hoskins, came into the series leading the Eastern League with 19 and 17 home runs respectively. Harrisburg pitchers held the pair to a combined 1-for-22 with ten strikeouts and two walks. “Cozens and Hoskins weren’t really factors in this series and I think it’s because they established inside at then mixed it up,” LeCroy said. “They executed the plan we had. We weren’t going to let them beat us but at the same time, they went after them pounding it in and that’s the difference.”
Harrisburg has a day off on Monday as they travel to Portland to face the Sea Dogs for a three-game series. Tyler Mapes will square off against Kevin McAvoy on Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. from historic Hadlock Field. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 6:45 p.m.
On Wednesday night in Trenton, Tyler Mapes outdueled Trenton LH Jordan Montgomery as the Senators defeated the Thunder 1-0. Mapes went the distance for the first time in his professional career and it was the first nine-inning complete game this season for the Senators.
Mapes didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning and no Trenton base runner reached second base. Trenton managed just three singles, a walk and a hit batter. Mapes struck out just four and he induced twelve ground ball outs. He threw 98 pitches, 69 for strikes in the gem.
The Senators scored the lone run in the game in the first inning when Neftali Soto doubled in Wilmer Difo with one out. The Senators threatened in the fifth, loading the bases with one out, but Difo hit into a double play ending the threat.
Montgomery, the Thunder starter, struck out a career-high 11 batters as he, too, tossed a gem of his own.
The Senators didn’t have anyone up in the bullpen until the ninth inning when Koda Glover began loosening up. With two outs in the ninth, Miguel Andujar singled for Trenton which brought Matt LeCroy out of the dugout to talk to Mapes. LeCroy allowed Mapes to face Sebastian Valle and Mapes responded by striking out Valle to end the game.
The Senators are now 35-29 on the season while Trenton falls to 38-27.
The final game of the three-game series is Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. as the Senators send RH Lucas Giolito to the hill.