By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Four Blue Jays pitchers combined for a six-hit shutout, Matt Dean had a homer and a double, and Mitch Nay had an unconventional inside-the-park three run home run to lead Bluefield past the Danville Braves 5-0, Tuesday night at Bowen Field.
“The best thing was they didn’t walk anybody,” Bluefield pitching coach Antonio Caceras said of the Blue Jays’ pitchers. “The strikeouts are good, they are working ahead and putting guys away.”
Chase DeJong started on the mound for Bluefield and leadoff batter Johan Camargo promptly singled to right. Just as quickly as Camargo got on, he was out, picked off first by Blue Jays catcher Jorge Saez. Later in the inning Mikey Reynolds drew a two out walk, but he was cut down by Saez as he attempted to steal second, ending the inning.
The Jays’ leadoff hitter, D.J. Davis, singled and moved to second on Tim Locastro’s sacrifice bunt, but was stranded.
In the second DeJong struck out three Braves, although Joseph Odum managed a two-out single to left. DeJong picked up two more Ks in the third and the Braves went on the warpath in the fourth.
Consecutive singles by Seth Moranda, Reynolds and Jacob Schrader loaded the bases with no outs. DeJong then proceeded to strike out Blake Brown swinging, Odum looking and got Jackson Laumann to bounce into a fielder’s choice to keep the game scoreless.
Meanwhile, Danville’s Andrew Waszak was equally successful against Bluefield batters, having sat down seven straight until John Silviano singled up the middle in the third. Waszak retired the Blue Jays in order in the fourth.
With exactly 70 pitches through four innings, Jays manager Dennis Holmberg made the call to the bullpen and Alvido Jimenez took the ball to begin the fifth for Bluefield. Jimenez sat down the first two batters he faced on called third strikes before Camargo tripled to right. The shutout remained as Jimenez struck out Moranda to end the inning.
Dean stepped to the plate to open the fifth, and drove a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left for his third home run of the season and gave Bluefield a 1-0 lead.
“It was a fastball, middle-in,” Dean said. “The guy had a sneaky fastball so I was just sitting on it and he gave it to me. I put a good swing on it and it felt really good. I’d been kind of on-and-off the whole year, so it felt good to finally get one and get it out of here.”
Holmberg said, “Matt Dean is turning himself into a success story from what he did not accomplish last year. Last year, one year prior, he was playing in high school, no Gulf Coast League experience and there’s something to be said for experience.
“He has put in a lot of hard work and he’s doing what I think the organization feels he’s very capable of doing. And I think we need to remember he is only 19, 20 years old. It’s very nice to see someone who struggled last year to pick up the pieces and have success with some things he has been working on.”
Danville manager Jonathan Schurholz also turned to his bullpen in the bottom of the sixth and the Jays had a rude welcoming for Matt Kimbrel. Davis walked, Locastro singled to center and Nico Taylor drove home Davis with a double to right-center.
Mitch Nay hit the ball down the line and right fielder Hector Garcia raised his hands to indicate the ball was under the padding on the fence. Nay kept running as base umpire Tucker Beneville ran out to the wall and did not rule a ground rule double, Nay ending up with a three-run, inside-the-park home run to make it 5-0, his third home run of the year.
“I went out there and the rule is it has to be lodged,” Schurholz said. “There’s a padding there and it was underneath it, but the ball wasn’t lodged in the padding and Hector (Garcia) threw his hands up thinking it was under the padding, the ball was dead. They let them play. Tucker (Beneville), the base umpire, went out to look at the ball and if he deems the ball is not lodged, it’s in play and that’s what happened.”
Phil Kish made his first appearance for Bluefield and pitched a hitless and scoreless seventh and eighth. Fernando Gracesqui closed out the night for the Jays, pitching the ninth and preserving the shutout win for Bluefield.
All told Bluefield pitchers allowed six hits did not walk a batter and struck out 14 Braves.
“DeJong was the key,” Caceras said. “I think getting out of the bases loaded jam with no outs with strikeouts and a ground ball, that was huge. The others came in and threw strikes and did a great job.”
Seven different Blue Jays got base hits in the game, led by Dean with a home run and a double with an RBI. Davis had one RBI and Nay knocked in three. Camargo had two of Danville’s six hits.
Jimenez earned the win as he pitched two innings, gave up one run and struck out five. DeJong allowed five hits in four innings and struck out seven. Kish and Gracesqui each struck out one. Waszak took the loss and despite his 1-3 record has a 1.01 ERA for the season.
“Waszak threw the ball great, he only made that one mistake to Dean,” Schurholz said. “It’s the first time he’s gone out and gone five innings. He has been great for us, he’s been outstanding. He pitched the same way he’s pitched all season for us.”
The two teams wrap up their three-game series tonight with Tazewell’s Zak Wasilewski taking the mound for Bluefield. First pitch is set for 7:05.
At Bowen Field
Danville.................000 000 000 — 0 6 0
Bluefield...............000 014 00x — 5 8 0
Andrew Waszak, Matt Kimbrel (6), Jordan Sechler (7) and Joseph Odum. Chase DeJong, Alvido Jimenez (5), Phil Kish (7), Fernando Gracesqui (9) and Jorge Saez. W-Jimenez (1-0), L-Waszak (1-3) HR: BLU-Dean (3), Nay (3). Att—783.