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Matt Morris Report: Curve waste another strong start

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Some extended notes on West Virginia's two games, which I attended, are below.

-- Indianapolis lost the first game of its doubleheader with Louisville, 3-2.  Casey Sadler had some control problems early, issuing all three of his walks in the 1st inning, the last with the bases loaded.  He settled down after that and finished with a six-inning complete game, allowing three runs and six hits.  He struck out two.  The Indians stranded ten runners over seven innings. Steve Lombardozzi was 2-4 with a double, Alen Hanson 1-3 with a walk and Tony Sanchez 1-2 with a walk.

The Indians won game two, 2-1, despite getting only four hits.  Hanson had three of them in three at-bats, and also stole two bases.  Pedro Florimon had the other hit.  Charlie Leesman gave up one run on four hits and two walks in five and a third innings.  He struck out one.  John Holdzkom came on with two on and one out in the 6th.  He let one run score, allowing a hit and a walk while getting two outs.  He struck out one and threw only eight of 15 pitches for strikes.  Blake Wood struck out two in the 7th to get the save.

-- Altoona blew a one-run lead in the bottom of the 9th and a three-run lead in the 14th, losing to Akron, 5-4.  The Curve wasted six more shutout innings by Zack Dodson, who has yet to allow an earned run this year.  He gave up three hits and two walks, and fanned one.  Collin Balester blew the lead in the 9th.  Tom Harlan followed Balester in the 11th and threw three shutout innings.  After Altoona took the lead in the 14th, though, he gave up two runs and left with two on and two out.  Tyler Sample relieved and gave up a hit, a walk and a walkoff hit by pitch.  Josh Bell was 3-7 with a triple and Max Moroff 2-6 with a double.

-- Bradenton lost to Charlotte, 3-1.  Starter Matt Benedict gave up the three runs over six innings.  Reese McGuire and Jose Osuna each went 2-4.  Austin Meadows was 1-4 and has just five hits in his last 25 ABs.  JaCoby Jones was 0-3 and came out of the game in the 5th inning, for unknown reasons.

-- West Virginia split a doubleheader with Hagerstown.  Game one was the completion of a game suspended two weeks ago in Charleston with the Suns up, 1-0, after an inning and a half.  The Power laid into the Hagerstown "starter" in the resumed game, scoring ten runs in the first three innings en route to a 10-2 win.  Trace Tam Sing was 2-3 with a double, a triple and four RBIs.  Elvis Escobar was 2-3 with a double and Pablo Reyes (pictured) 1-3 with his second HR, an opposite field line drive that just cleared the wall.  Miguel Rosario, who pitched the first two innings before the original game was suspended, returned and finished with a Complete Game in Two Parts.  He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out five.

The Power lost the regularly scheduled game, 6-2.  Starter Alex McRae was hit extremely hard, with many of the outs scorched.  Most of the Power hitters were inexplicably baffled by Hagerstown's non-prospect lefty starter and righty reliever.  Neither had a good strikeout rate, but they combined to fan 13 in seven innings.  Cole Tucker was 1-3 with a walk, but got thrown out on the bases twice.  The game featured a classic, minor league sort of inning.  Trailing 3-0 in the 5th, the Power got the first two hitters on.  Aiming for the one-run loss, they then had Escobar lay down a sacrifice.  It worked brilliantly, as both runners scored later on a wild pitch and a Tucker single . . . except that the Power still trailed, 3-2.  Tucker then broke for second on a pitch that eluded the catcher briefly and got caught before he could return to first.  Reyes then walked only to get picked off.

Some notes on individual players:

Tucker -- He played only in the second game.  It's not hard to see why some scouts took a liking to him.  He moves very well for a guy his size, sort of like a faster, more athletic Jordy Mercer.  Playing only in the second game, when everything was being lined to the outfield, he didn't get much action aside from relay throws.  On one weakly hit grounder in the hole, he stayed back and then had to rush the throw.  He threw off the bag, but probably wouldn't have gotten the runner anyway because of his failure to come in more aggressively.  At the plate, he showed good strike zone judgment and hit three line drives, although two were caught.  He didn't seem completely at a loss against the Suns' pitchers, as most of the Power hitters did.

Reyes -- He's not a big guy, but hit two long drives and now has one more HR than Josh Bell, Willy Garcia and Austin Meadows combined.  He struggled with breaking stuff in a couple at-bats, but worked the count well at other times.  He looked like a guy who's adjusting to the pitching after skipping a level, but he's got some real pop in his bat.

Jordan Luplow and Taylor Gushue -- Both played only in the second game and, more than any of the other hitters, seemed unable to pick up anything being thrown by the two non-descript pitchers they were facing.  Luplow took a lot of called strikes, then swung through seemingly hittable pitches in fanning all three times up.  Gushue wasn't much better, although he at least put one ball in play.  Gushue showed at least an average arm on two steal attempts.

Tito Polo! -- He struggled with off-speed stuff, chasing some bad pitches, and made a pitiable sacrifice attempt that ended with him bunting completely through a two-strike pitch.  He still hit a couple balls hard, though, one of which was caught.  He played left in game one and center in game two, with Escobar doing the opposite.  His arm looked average at best.

Chase Simpson -- He swung only a few times in the two games, as he didn't chase anything and he wasn't thrown many strikes.  He did contribute two strikeouts in game two.

Rosario -- He sat at 90-91, sometimes reaching 92-93, with good movement.  His command was poor early and he struggled through his first two innings (the 3rd and 4th innings), but kept the damage to one run.  He settled down over the last three innings.  He showed an effective slider throughout, as he threw it for strikes and also got swings and misses on it.

McRae -- His 88-91 mph fastball got crushed every time he got it up above about the ankles.  There were a bunch of line drive outs, and he gave up two long HRs along with a long triple to left-center that would have been out of nearly any other park, including PNC.