The Erie SeaWolves’ win column got bigger Saturday, even though the goatee of pitching coach Ray Burris probably got whiter.
Erie pitchers experienced a serious problem with multiple late-inning walks for its second game in less than 24 hours. However, unlike Friday’s loss to the Binghamton Mets, the SeaWolves overcame that baseball bugaboo for Saturday afternoon’s 3-2 victory at chilly Jerry Uht Park.
Reliever Kenny Faulk allowed a bloop hit that produced Binghamton’s second run in the top of the eighth inning. However, the powerful left-hander prevented the Mets from tying the score with the bases loaded, and then denied them in the ninth for his first career Double-A save.
The SeaWolves moved to 9-11 overall, while Binghamton is now 11-10. The teams will conclude their three-game series Sunday at 1:35 p.m.
– Mike Copper
Erie scored all its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning after going hitless to that point against Binghamton starter Collin McHugh. Rob Brantly lined an opposite-field double for the hosts’ first two runs, with Brantly later scoring on Ben Guez’s first RBI of 2012.
The SeaWolves made those runs hold up to leave starting pitcher James Avery as their first three-game winner.
Before the game, Erie bid adieu to two players who were on its 2007 team and welcomed back two who previously played for its current one.
The parent Detroit Tigers called up infielder Brent Dlugach and pitcher Zach Miner to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.
Miner was reacquired by the Tigers last week. He was originally assigned to Erie during its recent road trip, but was sent to Toledo before he could pitch again at Uht Park.
Dlugach hit .261 in seven games for Erie.
Added to Erie’s roster before Saturday’s game were veteran left-hander Ramon Garcia from Toledo and utility player Corey Jones from Lakeland. It’s already Garcia’s third stint with the SeaWolves this season and the second for Jones.
Avery, who blanked the Mets for five innings of his April 10 outing at NYSEG Stadium, did so for six innings in Saturday’s encore. The right-hander only allowed them two early-inning singles.
Although Avery walked two of the final three batters he faced in the seventh, with reliever Michael Morrison walking four more during his appearance, Faulk’s save preserved his 6 1/3-inning victory.
Avery extended a notable string efforts by fellow Erie starters Zack Segovia, Jared Wesson and Kelvin De La Cruz. Segovia was the winning pitcher when the SeaWolves face Pettitte, Wesson lasted a team-high seven innings the next day and De La Cruz struck out a team-best nine in Friday’s series opener against Binghamton.
Erie’s starters had been a weak spot for most of the Eastern League season’s first month, but Rob Brantly said that could be changing with this latest four-game run.
“They’re definitely in attack mode,” the Erie catcher said. “They’re not playing around with the (strike) zone. They’re going right after hitters and trying to make quick outs.”
The SeaWolves returned from their last road trip to find the wooden frames that hung over Uht Park’s left-field, home run line had been painted dark green. It was one of two noticeable changes made as part of the ongoing renovations to Tullio Arena.
The other new alteration was the completion of a concrete base for the new batting cage being built beyond center field. For the moment, all players must use an indoor batting cage that’s been set up inside Uht Park’s garage should they want to hit in poor weather.
There’s a good reason why new Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, at age 28, became the oldest player ever chosen in the first round of the NFL draft.
Weeden called the signals and took the snaps at Oklahoma State last season. Ten years ago, though, the New York Yankees made the right-handed pitcher their second-round pick in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft.
Cleveland fans can only hope Weeden has better success on Sundays in the fall than his five summers on the mound. He never advanced higher than long-season single-A ball and retired in 2006 with a career record of 19-26 for three different organizations.