Cam Vieaux struck out a season-high nine batters in a strong outing for the short-season A West Virginia Black Bears in their 4-3 loss at Mahoning Valley on Friday night.
Vieaux, the Pirates' sixth-round pick this summer out of Michigan State (and, presumably, David Manel's best friend) walked just one, allowing one run on six hits in six innings. The most strikeouts he'd previously had in a game was six, in a six-run, 3 2-3 inning start at Brooklyn on August 12.
The 6-foot-4 lefty went to his secondary pitches, the slider and changeup, early, allowing his low-90s fastball to play up and fool more than a couple guys in the early innings. The changeup, with a little late drop, became the out pitch as the game went on, including his biggest and final strikeout, freezing the Mahoning Valley catcher for the second out of the sixth after a stolen base and error had put the go-ahead run on third base.
Left fielder Hunter Owen, the 25th-round pick in 2016, went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Undrafted catcher Chris Harvey went 3-for-4 behind him, with an RBI double off the left-field wall in the fifth.
Will Craig went 2-for-4, both hits being singles. He was tested on a bunt for a hit in the seventh, and threw high to first base, but it would have taken an exceptional play to get the Scrappers' lead-off hitter.
Sandy Santos ripped the first pitch he saw on the night down the left-field line for a double, then got picked off of second. He later stole a base, and he showed good range in center on a few occasions.
Vieaux left with the score tied at 1, and the Black Bears pulled ahead, 3-1, in the top of the seventh, but Scooter Hightower struggled over two innings of relief, allowing three runs on four hits.