Colin Rea came into tonight’s game with nine innings pitched and only two runs surrendered. He continued his stellar start to the season by pitching five innings, giving up three hits and most importantly zero runs. He moved to 2-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to 1.29.
“Colin’s been effective all year using his fastball and his slider. He has four very good pitches he can throw for strikes,” catcher Matt Colantonio said.
Rea didn’t pile up the strikeouts, but he didn’t walk many and made pitches when he needed to. Rea was effective all night by living in the bottom of the strike zone and working inside. It showed, as eight of the 13 outs put in play were groundballs.
“He attacks the zone and stays within himself. He doesn’t try to throw too hard and stays within himself and just lets that ball move. He has been solid. Colantonio deserved a lot of credit as well,” manager Pat Murphy said.
The Emeralds have been red hot to start off the season and have been an offensive powerhouse. Tonight was no exception.
Lee Orr started off the top of the second by crushing a 1-1 fastball from Kendry Flores over the left center wall for his first homerun on the season. Orr’s blast gave the Emeralds a 1-0 lead. Flores regained his composure and retired the next three batters to get out of the inning.
After cruising through the first three innings, Rea had a rocky fourth inning. Rea retired the first two batters of the inning on pop ups, but then gave up a line drive base hit to Mike Murray. Rea then gave up a full count walk to Dan Burkhart to put runners at first and second. The Emeralds survived their first scare of the night as Rea got Shawn Payne to fly out to center field.
The Emeralds would follow suit in their half of the fourth. The Emeralds put runners on first and second with no outs after back-to-back walks issued by Flores. The runners would not go waste as Travis Whitmore came up clutch with a full count base hit through the right side. Whitmore’s base hit gave the Emeralds a 2-0 lead and put runners on the corners. Manager Pat Murphy put the wheels in motion and it proved to be huge. With runners on the corners and one out, Colantonio executed a perfect hit-and-run to add another run to the Emerald’s lead.
“First and third, less than two outs, I’m trying to get the ball to the outfield, but then it got to two strikes so I was just trying to put the ball in play and I end up hitting a ball nicely up the middle,” Colantonio said.
The Emeralds big fourth inning proved to be enough for Volcanoes’ skipper Tom Trebelhorn. He pulled Flores and brought in Matthew Graham to try to get out of the jam. Graham got out of the inning unharmed. Flores left the game with the line of three and two-thirds innings pitched, five hits, three runs, and four strikeouts.
The Volcanoes would threaten again in the top of the fifth after a lead off double, but Rea pitched his way out of the jam. The fifth would be Rea’s last inning due to pitch count and the Volcanoes couldn’t be happier.
Simon Berroa came in the sixth to help extend the shutout, but was ineffective, as he didn’t record a single out. He walked the lead off man and then gave up back-to-back base hits. The Volcanoes were finally on the board and Berroa was out of the game. Matthew Stites came in to relief Berroa. He got out of the scare with a double play and a strikeout to end the top half of the sixth.
The Emeralds extended their lead to 4-1 in the seventh, when Cory Spangenberg drove home Clint Moore on his double. Then Whitmore would extend his hot streak and the lead some more with a two-RBI double. Whitmore has reached base nine of the last 10 games and recorded a hit in eight of them.
“I have been seeing the ball well pretty well and I was looking for a fastball out over the plate with runners on first and second and he gave it to me. I stayed on it and I got it to fall down the line,” Whitmore said.
Murphy said Whitmore has been as good as anybody lately and that is why he put him fifth in the order. His move proved to be huge tonight.
The Volcanoes would try to stage a come back late off reliever Paul Bingham. After a walk and an error the Volcanoes would push through on a Burkhart base hit, but the bleeding would stop there with the score at 6-2.
Bingham would return to try finish out the ninth, but he could not after giving up back-to-back base hits. Kevin Quackenbush got the call from the pen and sealed up the 6-3 victory, while he picked up his sixth save.
The Emeralds were lead by Whitmore’s 2-for-4, three-RBI performance and Colantonio’s 2-for-4, one RBI performance.