Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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August 16, 2013

Offenses on display: Blue Jays outslug Rays

BLUEFIELD — Even with a 7-0 first-inning lead, the Bluefield Blue Jays found they could not coast through the second game of their unlikely doubleheader on Friday evening at Bowen Field.

The Princeton Rays would not go quietly, pulling within three runs of a tie before the Blue Jays swung some big bats late and took a 13-8 Mercer Cup Series victory in front of a crowd of 1,146.

Seven of the first eight Bluefield batters scored in the first inning, a disastrous start for Princeton pitcher Nolan Gannon. He gave up only two singles, but walked two and hit two other batters with pitches.

Gannon was gone after 1/3 of an inning. The first batter faced by reliever Stepan Havlicek was Jesus Gonzalez, who hit a three-RBI double.

On the other side of the scorebook, Bluefield pitcher Brady Dragmire struck out six Rays in three innings. He gave up four singles and a walk in the fourth, leading to three runs — two of them crossing the plate on a single by No. 9 batter Wilmer Dominguez.

But Dragmire was soon gone from the mound as well, after striking out three straight batters in the top of the third.

Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg said Dragmire was struggling a bit to get strikes across. “I think he lost his tempo, his rhythm. I think he lost his confidence a little, perhaps. But he battled, he competed, to get through three (innings) and he got his pitch count up a little.”

“Brady Dragmire — who has been pitching extremely well — just wasn’t himself tonight. All of a sudden, you start going to the bullpen ... and we kind of let them crawl back into the game.”

“The objective should be throwing strikes, being competitive, and not being non-productive.”

“I don’t think we lost our competitive edge. It’s just that the pitching didn’t come out and bang through (the lineup).”

Eight Blue Jays were retired in order leading up to the fourth inning.

Princeton manager Danny Sheaffer said, “We played decent defense in the second game. ... Unfortunately, we’re a little thin right now, and we’re expecting our players to do too much.”

Mitch Nay raised the Bluefield lead to double digits with a three-run home run — his sixth — off the scoreboard in center field and the hometown fans cheered his clout, and the 10-3 advantage it produced.

Nay went hitless in the first game and that memory returned to his mind after the second outing was over.

“You’ve got to erase that from your mind,” he said. “What you did before doesn’t matter. You’ve got to turn the page. ... After the first game, I just wanted to make good contact. When you do that, good things will happen.”

Princeton bounced back with five runs in the next inning. Bralin Jackson led off with a walk — his fifth of the doubleheader day — to begin the merry-go-round, which eventually included doubles by Coty Blanchard and David Garcia and a triple from Leo Correa.

The Blue Jays fans did not breathe easy again until the bottom of the sixth, which D.J. Davis began with a monster home run to right field on the first pitch. It was his sixth of the season, also.

“The night at the plate was going well for me,” Davis said. “We were all seeing the ball well, and we weren’t swinging at bad pitches.”

Tim Locastro then singled, and with two outs, Matt Dean crushed the third home run of the game over left field for the final runs.

Though Francisco Gracesqui pitched just 1 1/3 innings of relief for Bluefield, he earned the win to go 3-0 this season. Alvido Jiminez handled the final two innings for the Jays and was credited with his fourth save of 2013.

Blanchard and Elias Torres batted 2 for 3 for the Rays. For the Blue Jays, Andres Sotillo had a 2 for 3 night, and Nay and Dean were both 2 for 4.

Sheaffer said, “We’ve had something like a split season. ... The last half, we want to be competitive, and we’ve been sort of snakebit against Bluefield, but we’ve been competitive for the last two weeks or more.”

The final game of the season between the two clubs is this evening, with first pitch set for 7:05 at Bowen Field.

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