In assessing home run threats on the Bluefield Blue Jays roster, the name of Rolando Segovia is not likely to come up.
However, the 165-pound Venezuelan second baseman got into the conversation on Tuesday evening with a two-run homer that gave the Blue Jays the lead for the first time in an 8-3 win over the Burlington Royals.
“That was a lot of fun for me,” Segovia said via an interpreter outside the happy Bluefield (9-10) clubhouse.
The 740 fans who showed up despite the threat of heavy rain — and one canine, Jake the Diamond Dog — witnessed Bluefield’s third win in a row, a series sweep of Burlington (8-11).
Both teams scored a lone run in the second inning. Burlington’s Amalani Fukofuka led off with a triple and came home on Alex Newman’s sacrifice fly.
Bluefield’s Gabriel Cenas and Rowdy Tellez drew back-to-back walks in their half of the inning. Jesus Gonzalez hit a ball near first base, and Josh Banuelos threw to second for the forceout.
But the toss back to first was mishandled by pitcher Dylan Sons, and the error allowed Cenas to cross the plate and tie the game.
After allowing his third walk of the frame, Sons was pulled from the mound. Burlington manager Tommy Shields said, “He was starting on a rehab assignment. He was only going to throw 40 pitches.”
Richard Urena began the bottom of the third with a double to the center-field wall off of Niklas Stephenson. Segovia, facing a 1-1 count, put all his power into a ball that sailed over left field past the flag for his first Appy League home run, and a 3-1 edge for Bluefield.
“It was up and in,” Segovia said. “I just wanted to get a good pitch, and try to do my job, and help the team win.”
After crossing the plate by himself, he entered the dugout, where his teammates seemed to ignore him.
In a few moments, their roar of congratulations could be heard on the other side of the ballpark. Segovia said he wasn’t bothered by the immediate lack of feedback, and just waited for something to happen.
“I already knew it,” he said. “We used to do that to other (batters).”
Segovia struck out in three of his five at-bats and now owns a .178 batting average. With hitting coach Cesar Martin doing the translating, the 19-year-old infielder said, “I just have to keep working and have better confidence.”
Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg said about Segovia, “He’s been struggling a little bit.” He said he had taken off a bunt sign a couple of pitches before the home run, and Segovia then let a ball go by before getting his four-bagger.
“Luck kind of smiles on different people at different times,” the manager said.
The Royals tied the game again in the top of the fifth, with D.J. Burt’s leadoff home run.
Bluefield starting pitcher Francisco Rios, in his first home start since opening day, finished up the fifth inning but was denied the win because of the 3-3 tie.
At that point, Burlington had 10 hits to Bluefield’s three. But the visitors would not score again. Reliever Oscar Cabrera sat down 10 of the 12 batters he faced; the only hit he allowed was a two-out single in the eighth. With the pitching win, he is 2-0 this season.
The Blue Jays posted two runs in the sixth. Josh Almonte led off with a triple to the left-field corner, and Cenas and Dan Jansen hit RBI singles for a 5-3 margin.
Trent Miller collected his third home run of the season leading off the eighth for Bluefield.
After Cenas struck out, Tellez began a painful at-bat. He was hit in the leg with a pitch, lurched out of the batter’s box, slammed his bat down and fell onto his back. After being checked out, he remained in the game and took first base.
He successfully stole second base, but as he touched the bag, he appeared to be hit in the face by the thrown ball and again wound up laying on the playing surface. This time, he left the contest, getting applause from the home fans as he walked to the dugout.
Angel Rojas, in as a pinch runner, scored on a hit to deep left by Austin Davis. The outfielder had trouble corralling the ball and Dan Jansen, who had walked, scored on the error to account for the final score.
Bluefield closer Dusty Isaacs surrendered a walk to leadoff man Logan Moon in the ninth, then recorded three outs to end it.
Holmberg said, “I’m very proud of the way they came back. We had great at-bats in this series, great pitching in this series ... and we defended very well.”
Burlington out-hit Bluefield 11 to 9. The two teams went into the game with the lowest team batting averages in the Appy League — with Burlington one point lower than the Blue Jays.
Shields said, “We didn’t get the big hits with runners in scoring position tonight. They did some damage with their hitting.”
Holmberg said about the Royals, “They swung the bats pretty good. At one point, they had out-hit us 10 to three. Maybe we dodged a couple of bullets.”
“I believe we are trusting each other, trusting ourselves. As I told them today, ‘There’s a hero in every game. Pick one. Any one of you can be that hero.’
“Right now, in this three-game series, I see a very energetic, high-energy team. They hustle every day. ... That’s how they need to play the game.”
The rain held off, except for a slight drizzle midway through the contest.
The Blue Jays will get their first look at the new Bristol franchise, the Pirates, over the next three days at Bowen Field. Game time is 7:05 p.m. each night. The Mercer Cup Series then resumes, with three games in Princeton on Saturday through Monday.
— Contact Tom Bone at email@example.com
At Bowen Field
Burlington............010 110 000 — 3 11 2
Bluefield..............012 002 03x — 8 9 0
Dylan Sons, Niklas Stephenson (2), Robinson Yambati (7), Ian Tompkins (8) and Chase Vallot. Francisco Rios, Oscar Cabrera (6), Dusty Isaacs (9) and Dan Jansen. WP - Cabrera (2-0). LP - Stephenson (0-1). HR - Burl, Burt (2), 5th, 0 on; Blfd, Segovia (1), 3rd, 1 on; Miller (3), 8th, 0 on. Att - 740.