“It feels really good to be winning now,” left-handed starter Michael Watt said. “We are really coming together nicely. It is fun. There is no pressure to go out there and play. We are just going to keep having fun and it is rolling on its own right now. It is fun to win.”
“We actually started off slow last year and the same thing has happened this year,” second baseman Dean Anna said. “We then rolled off 10 wins and it feels the same this year. We are starting to feed off each other and it is fun.”
A flare just off the glove of a diving Anna on the outfield grass opened the second inning. Watt than walked his second batter in as many innings. Well placed outfield defense saved a run when Danny Payne was positioned closer to center and picked off a liner headed for the gap in left-center. A double play followed to end the threat.
“I mixed pitches well,” Watt said. “It really helps that the defense has played well behind me. Jeudy (Valdez) made a couple of great plays.”
A first pitch bullet off the right arm of Lancaster pitcher Robbie Donovan by Reymond Fuentes knocked the JetHawks right-hander out of the game to open the fourth inning and opened up a big inning against Andrew Robinson.
Jeudy Valdez followed with a 0-1 single to right-center to put men on the corners. A four-pitch walk by Jedd Gyorko loaded the bases with nobody out for Edinson Rincon. A sharp ball off the heel of the third baseman’s glove plated a run and keep the bases juiced. Jason Hagerty cracked a 1-0 single to left to make it 2-0. After a Nate Freiman pop out, Dean Anna delivered a single under the glove of the second baseman on a 1-2 pitch to make it 4-0. A ground out by Danny Payne capped the scoring, as the squad sent nine men to the dish.
“Usually, when I get two strikes I am looking to get my foot down a little earlier and looking for a ball up,” Anna said. “I swung at a good pitch – I don’t think he wanted to leave it up, but put a good swing on it and was able to get two RBI.”
Lancaster got two back in the top of the fifth thanks to a two-out fielding error on a liner by Daniel Meeley, plating one. Watt then bounced a pitch in the dirt to allow the second run to cross.
“He battled,” pitching coach Bronswell Patrick said. “He keeps improving. He has used his breaking ball more. His changeup was a little off tonight but he has been more consistent with it too.”
Fuentes pulled a spectacular drag bunt down the first base line with one out in the seventh. Fuentes moved to third on a failed pickoff play. A single by Valdez – thanks to an outfielder who could not find the ball – plated their sixth run. He was then pegged with the ball and awarded third base when the ball went into the dugout. Gyroko flew out to right to end his 17-game hitting streak and Valdez was gunned down at home, missing the plate with his hand and getting tagged out by the catcher to end the frame.
“It is timely hitting,” Anna said. “Every night, someone else is coming up with the big hit.”
Jeremy McBryde looked very good, tossing a pair of shutout innings.
“Jeremy has been more aggressive,” Patrick said. “He is using his sinker a lot more and getting ahead. Where he was getting into trouble was when he was not getting ahead so he couldn’t get to his out pitch – the slider.”
After a 1-2-3 eighth, Chase Marona walked two to open the top of the ninth. Miles Mikolas induced a double play and struck out the final batter to get the save.
“Mikolas was able to come in and slam the door,” Patrick added. “He wants the ball in the last inning with the game on the line and it showed. He goes right after hitters.”
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