By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Dawel Lugo may have knocked the lights out on his way out of Bluefield.
Lugo drove in a run in his final appearance for the Blue Jays before the power went out at Bowen Field, forcing Thursday’s Mercer Cup game with Princeton to be suspended in the fourth inning with Bluefield up 1-0.
Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg has seen plenty in his three-plus decades in the minor leagues, but how about a power outage on a clear, but unseasonably cool evening for Appalachian League baseball?
“It is unusual for a nice, clear, brisk, cool day, usually it happens when you have thunder and lightning hits the transformer,” Holmberg said. “It was very odd that the transformer went out.”
The clubs will return to Bowen Field today to continue the suspended game at 5 p.m., followed by the regularly scheduled contest that is now slated for seven innings. Brady Dragmire and Chase De Jong will pitch in the nightcap for Bluefield.
“They are assuring us that first thing in the morning they will have somebody here to fix it,” Holmberg said.
Princeton General Manager Jim Holland told the Daily Telegraph that he will allow the games to be played at Hunnicutt Field if necessary.
Holmberg revealed after the game that Lugo, the talented shortstop for the Blue Jays, was being promoted to Vancouver in the Northwest League. Lugo was having an all-star caliber season, batting .295 with six home runs and a league-leading 35 runs batted in.
Lugo’s single in the bottom of the third off German Marquez had given the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead following a pair of errors by Princeton’s Emmanuel Paulino. The Rays had three errors in those three innings, but left fielder Johnny Eierman did throw out Mitch Nay at the plate trying to score in the third on the second hit of the game by Jorge Saez.
Jairo Labourt, who lowered his ERA to 1.26 in 10 starts, had allowed two hits in 3 1/3 innings, including a double by Armando Araiza. He moved to third on a sacrifice fly, and Yoel Araujo was up with two outs when the lights flickered and the majority of those went out.
A 24-minute delay followed before the game was suspended until today.
“(Labourt) was throwing really well,” Holmberg said. “Mind you he was still on a pitch count, I am sure he could have achieved maybe five innings of work and you turn it over to the bullpen.
“I kind of hate to waste him, but (Princeton manager Danny) Shaeffer’s starter, my starter, 30 minutes after the fact, were both done so we just have to start with bullpens tomorrow.”
Lugo is the fourth player from Bluefield to get moved to Vancouver, following a trio of pitchers, including Scott Silverstein (0-2, 4.30 ERA, 10 games), Shane Dawson (1-0, 0.64, 3 games) and Tom Robson (2-0, 0.79, 4 games).
That continues a trend for Bluefield, which sent 13 players last year to Vancouver, which helped the Canadians win the Northwest League title.
“It’s tough losing anybody that has been part of the family here,” Holmberg said. “The whole thing this year was about family and playing well and he certainly took care of his 1/9th of a responsibility on the field day in and day out.
“Just a young kid, 18 years old, who is three years away from maybe being a real impact player that he is capable of being. He goes to Vancouver and gets to compete at a little higher level in the Northwest League and hopefully in the next couple of weeks he can hold his own.”
Bluefield has already added a pair of talented players from the Gulf Coast League to its roster, including Venezuelan shortstop Franklin Barreto, who was the top International prospect available in 2012. He was hitting .299 with 16 doubles, six triples and four home runs in 44 games for the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla.
“We saw him in extended spring training, he is a very good player, he is a good defensive ball player,” Holmberg said. “I think he is going to fit in just fine. He is not going to supply the quick strike power that Lugo provides, but he is going to hit and I am assuming and I have confidence he is going to play well and do well and fit in well here.”
Also added to the Bluefield roster was 18-year-old Clinton Hollon, a second round draft choice and 47th overall selection by Toronto in June out of a high school in Kentucky. He had appeared in four games in Dunedin, with a 1-0 record and an 0.00 ERA in four games, striking out 10 in 12 innings on the mound.
“A second round pick this year, a high school kid, he is moving rather quickly, threw very well in the Gulf Coast League,” Holmberg said. “All the reports are just dynamite about him from his pitching to this stuff, his makeup and his attitude, just everything is off the chart.”
“A good opportunity for both of those guys who were down in the Gulf Coast League to come up here and play in a competitive winning type of atmosphere and we will see how things go.”
Bluefield currently has the league’s best record with a 35-17 record, and had a magic number of five to qualify for the playoffs. As the season winds down, it’s natural for those involved to look forward to returning home, but Holmberg thinks his Blue Jays are focused on the task at hand.
“That is what you can’t look at, and I really don’t think they are,” said Holmberg, whose Blue Jays have 15 games remaining, followed by one or two rounds of playoffs. “I think they know what is at stake, you have to continue to go out there and play like we have been playing.”
Bluefield, which will host second place Pulaski in a key three-game series beginning on Sunday, lost three straight at Johnson City last week, two of which Holmberg said the Blue Jays could have won.
“You can’t win them all, we have been in a lot of ball games and we have won our fair share of those type games perhaps, but they are still competing and still playing hard,” he said. “We will just get after them tomorrow.”
—Contact Brian Woodson at email@example.com