PULASKI, Va. —
The Bluefield Blue Jays jumped out to an early lead and held on late to down the Pulaski Mariners 4-2 Wednesday night at Calfee Park.
Jays leadoff hitter Dwight Smith Jr., drilled a 3-1 pitch from Charles Kaalekahi over the 356 sign in right-center field to stake the Blue Jays to an early 1-0 lead.
“It was a nice sparkplug at-bat. It put us on the scoreboard right away,” Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg said. “Their guy then settled in and threw nice for a few innings after that too. It’s always nice to score first and it was a good professional at-bat for Smitty.”
With that advantage Bluefield pitcher Deivy Estrada then went to work.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better performance,” said Holmberg, of Estrada’s effort. “Pulaski is a first ball, fast ball hitting ball club and I thought Deivy threw strikes, worked fast, changed speeds. They hit a couple of balls hard off him early, but he settled in nice and had six good innings. He was outstanding.”
For Pulaski, Kaalekahi equally strong was strong. After Smith’s homer he walked Art Charles in the first, hit Smith in the third and walked Eric Arce in the fourth.
Jake Anderson laced a single to left with one down in the fifth for the Jays second hit of the game. Smith followed with a walk and Dickie Joe Thon singled to left to load the bases. However, Santiago Nessy went down on strikes and Charles lined out to center to end the inning.
Reggie Lawson lined the first pitch of Pulaski’s fifth into center for the Mariners’ first hit. Up to that time Estrada had retired all 12 batters that had come to the plate.
Pulaski went to the bullpen in the sixth as Nate Koneski replaced Kaalekahi who worked five innings of three-hit, one-run ball. He walked two and struck out four.
Christian Lopes greeted Koneski with a double just inside the right field line. Arce hit a tapper back to the pitcher and Lopes got trapped in a rundown. He advanced to third when a throw in the rundown pegged him in the back and all hands were safe.
Matt Dean then doubled to center scoring Lopes, putting runners on second and third and giving Bluefield a 2-0 lead. Nico Taylor singled home Arce to make it 3-0, and again put runners on the corners. Dean scored the Jays third run of the inning when Smith grounded into a 3-6-1 out. It would have been a double play, but the shortstop failed to touch the bag at second.
Richard Palase opened the Mariners’ sixth with a double, but was caught stealing third and Estrada retired the next two batters.
Estrada pitched six innings of two-hit ball, struck out two and did not walk a batter. Griffin Murray replaced Estrada to open the seventh and retired the Mariners in order.
Levi Dean came on for Pulaski in the eighth and struck out the side.
After going down in the top of the ninth, Bluefield turned to Denny Valdez to close things out with a 4-0 lead and it was at that time the proverbial wheels fell off the wagon.
Richard Palase reached second on a throwing error. Valdez then fanned the next two batters only to see Martin Peguero line a single to right to give Pulaski its first run of the game. After a throw on a pitch out sailed into center field, putting Peguero on third, Jordy Lara walked.
A ground ball to short went awry for another error, scoring Peguero, moving Lara to third and bringing the winning run to the plate.
Tyler Marlette hit a grounder to shortstop Thon who threw a one-hopper to Charles at first and the Blue Jays escaped with a win.
“That’s why you play nine innings,” Holmberg said. “It got exciting there in the ninth, but it’s a good win for us after some tough losses. It’s a learning process that we’re going through.”
Estrada picked up the win and Kaalekahi was tagged with the loss.
Smith was 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs and Thon was 2-for-5. Palase had two of Pulaski’s four hits.
The two teams meet again tonight at Calfee Park with the first pitch set for 7 p.m.
At Calfee Park
Bluefield…………..100 003 000 — 4 8 3
Pulaski…………….000 000 002 — 2 4 2
Estrada, Murray (7), Valdez (9) and Nessy; Kaalekahi, Koneski (6), Dean (8) and Marlette. W-Estrada, L-Kaalekahi. HR-Smith (3). Att—611.