By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Tazewell’s Zak Wasilewski picked up his first professional victory as he pitched three-and-two-third innings and the Bluefield Blue Jays took a 7-3 win over the Burlington Royals, Tuesday night at Bowen Field.
Aiding the Bluefield cause were Eric Arce who powered two home runs and Dawel Lugo, who homered for the second consecutive night.
“It was very nice (to get the win),” Wasilewski said. “I was much more relaxed out there. I felt like I put too much pressure on myself the first game.”
Blue Jays manager Dennis Holmberg said he saw a different pitcher Tuesday night when Wasilewski took the ball.
“A totally different pitcher for the most part from his first start to this one,” Holmberg said. “He seemed a little bit more composed, threw more strikes and he was breathing a little bit easier. He made some real nice pitches and did a very nice job competing. A much better outing than his first.”
Alberto Tirado got the start for the Jays and mowed down the first seven Royals before Kevin Kuntz picked up a one-out single in the third. A walk put two on with one down, but a foul out and K got Tirado out of the possible jam.
Bluefield came out swinging the bats. D.J. Davis hit Matt Tenuta’s first pitch to left, but a 4-6-3 twin killing got the Royals out of the inning. The Blue Jays drew first blood in the second when Arce pulled the first pitch he saw from Tenuta over the right field wall to give the Jays a 1-0 lead.
Tirado gave up a pair of hits to open the fourth, his final inning of work, but a strikeout and a nice catch in center by D.J. Davis on a line drive off the bat of Alex Newman ended the inning.
Wasilewski came on in the fourth and gave up a one-out walk, but he then caught Desmond Henry leaning and the ensuing rundown brought the second out of the inning.
In the sixth Wassy struggled a bit, giving up three hits and a walk as Burlington managed to tie the game at one.
Bluefield responded in its half of the inning against new Burlington pitcher Ben Tomchick. Jorge Saez opened with a walk and took second on a ground out. Arce then smacked his second homer of the night, this one to right center, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead. The Jays added another run in the inning when D.J. Davis drove home Matt Dean, who had walked. Jonathan Davis had a double that moved Dean to third.
Wasilewski retired Burlington in order in the seventh on three ground balls and in the eighth wrapped two strikeouts around a walk before giving way to Joe Lovecchio. Lovecchio’s first pitch to Pedro Gonzalez was hit over the right-center wall and Burlington was back to within one at 4-3.
The Blue Jays added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth. Saez singled and three different wild pitches allowed him to advance around the bases and score. In the eighth Jose Rodriguez retired the first two Bluefield batters before Derrick Loveless singled to left. Lugo then followed with a home run to right for the final runs of the night.
Brady Dragmire took the ball in the ninth for the Blue Jays and retired the side in order, the final out coming on a called third strike against Henry.
Arce and Jonathan Davis had two hits apiece for Bluefield, Arce two home runs and Davis a single and a double.
“I got to work with the coaches earlier this morning and we put in some hard work in the cages and they pretty much told me to go out there and put the bat on the ball,” Arce said. “Sure enough, that’s what I did and it felt great and I want to thank my coaches for that. This is a good team win and I’m excited I’m hitting the ball and can help my team.”
Wasilewski allowed two runs on three hits, walked three and struck out two.
“He (Wasilewski) is going to be on a short leash all year, probably not going to throw more than 60 pitches, or about four innings. If it’s three, it’s three,” Holmberg said. “As much as we talk about quality at-bats, we talk about quality innings for the pitchers too and getting outs, one out at a time.”
Tomchick took the loss for Burlington as he gave up three runs on three hits and walked three in one inning of work.
Gonzalez had a pair of hits, including a homer, to lead the Royals at the plate.
Game two of the three game series is tonight at Bowen Field, first pitch is set for 7:05.
At Bowen Field
Burlington...............000 001 020 — 3 7 1
Bluefield.................010 003 12x — 7 11 0
Matt Tenuta, Ben Tomchick (6), Jose Rodriguez (7) and Pedro Gonzalez. Alberto Tirado, Zak Wasilewski (5), Joe Lovecchio (8), Brady Dragmire (9) and Jorge Saez. W-Wasilewski (1-1), L-Tomchick (0-1) HR-BUR: Gonzalez (1), BLU: Arce 2 (3), Lugo (2). Att: 579