by Ryan Christoffersen / A’s Farm Beloit Correspondent
The Beloit Snappers took the final game of their four-game set with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Brewers’ Midwest League affiliate, at Beloit’s Pohlman Field on Monday to split their series.
Wisconsin’s pitching staff has struggled this season, ranking near last in the Midwest League in almost every pitching category. The team also ranks last in the league in batting average (.220), slugging percentage (.346) and OPS (.642). So, it’s no surprise that the Timber Rattlers finished last in the Midwest League’s Western Division for the first half.
Game #1: Wisconsin 7 – Beloit 4
*LHP Zack Erwin struggled with his command in this one, walking 3 batters and giving up 3 runs in just 4 ⅔ innings.
*RHP Yordys Alejo was taken deep twice by Timber Rattlers’ second baseman Tucker Neuhaus, slugging a solo shot in the 6th inning, then belting a 3-run blast in the 7th.
*The Snappers scored 4 runs on 10 hits in the game, but missed many prime opportunities to score more runs, including stranding the bases loaded in both the 6th and 7th innings.
Game #2: Wisconsin 4 – Beloit 2
*Switch-hitting shortstop Eric Marinez hit his third home run of the season in the bottom of the 1st inning for Beloit, but it turned out to be the Snappers’ only extra-base hit of the game.
*The Timber Rattlers scored more runs (4) than they had hits (3).
*Cuban RHP Miguel Romero made his first appearance for Beloit, throwing 32 pitches in just 2 innings of work, presumably because he was on a pitch count. The 23-year-old gave up 2 earned runs, both in his second inning of work.
*RHP Seth Martinez, the A’s 17th-round pick in 2016, was strong in long relief. One mistake in the 4th inning to Timber Rattlers first baseman Ronnie Gideon led to a two-run homer (clocked at 106 mph off the bat) that ended up being the difference in the game. Despite being tagged with the loss, that was the only hit Martinez allowed, and he was charged with just one run earned run while striking out 7 in 6 innings of stellar work.
Game #3: Beloit 4 – Wisconsin 2
*LHP Kyle Twomey made his first home start at Pohlman Field in this one. Last year, he posted a solid season in the Midwest League for the South Bend Cubs. Despite compiling a 3.44 ERA in 73 ⅓ innings in 2016, Twomey was released by the Cubs this spring and was promptly signed by the A’s as a minor league free agent. Though he’s currently sporting an ugly 6.89 ERA for the Snappers this season, Twomey put up a solid line in this game: 5 IP/4 H/2 ER/2 BB/3 K.
*RHP Jesus Zambrano was impressive in relief. The 20-year-old struck out 5 batters over 4 scoreless frames. And 4 of his 5 strikeouts saw Wisconsin hitters flailing at his changeup, which was diving down into the dirt.
*Third baseman Trace Loehr went 3 for 4 at the plate, but his most impressive feat may have come in his first at-bat. With two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the 2nd inning, Loehr worked an 11-pitch at-bat, eventually lining a single to right. This brought up the A’s 21st-round pick in 2016, first baseman Kyle Nowlin, who proceeded to crack a line-drive home run oppo boppo over the fence in right-center field to tie the game at two apiece. And it was all set up by Loehr’s outstanding at-bat to keep the inning alive.
*RBI doubles by outfielders Luis Barrera and Mike Martin brought home the other two runs for Beloit in the victory.
Game #4: Beloit 2 – Wisconsin 1
*Second baseman Trace Loehr turned in his second 3-hit game in as many days for the Snappers.
*RHP Matt Milburn struggled out of the gate, surrendering 4 hits to the first 5 batters he faced. But the Athletics 29th-round pick in 2016 managed to make it out of the 1st inning allowing just 1 run. Milburn went on to pitch 6 scoreless innings after that, inducing 9 ground ball outs, most of which were handled by the marvelous up-the-middle duo of shortstop Edwin Diaz and second baseman Trace Loehr. Milburn’s final line was a superb 7 IP/7 H/1 ER/1 BB/6 K.
*The biggest play of the game came in the top of the 4th inning. With Wisconsin left fielder Joantel Segovia on first base and two outs, Timber Rattlers third baseman Gilbert Lara smacked a double to center field. Segovia was determined to score on the play, but Snappers center fielder Luis Barrera and shortstop Edwin Diaz had other plans. Barrera got to the ball quickly and fired an accurate throw to the cutoff man, Diaz, who then rocketed a long relay throw home to nab Segovia at home plate. That kept it a 2-1 ballgame, and the Snappers would never surrender the lead.
Former Snappers Notes:
*Congratulations to RHP Brandon Bailey and second baseman Nate Mondou, who were both promoted to the High-A Stockton Ports last week.
*Bailey, the A’s 6th-round pick in 2016, compiled a 2.68 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP while holding hitters to a .199 batting average over 57 innings of work. He also averaged an impressive 11.5 strikeouts per 9 innings for the Snappers. While listed at just 5’10” and 175 lbs., Bailey possesses excellent stuff and is an interesting arm to watch as he climbs the ladder.
*Mondou, the A’s 13th-round pick in 2016, was the most consistent batter for Beloit through the first half of the season. The left-handed contact hitter had a strong slash line of .296/.371/.385 with a 114 wRC+ for the Snappers. Mondou will always be very dependent on his ability to hit for average and take walks, as he has little to no power, and he’ll probably be limited to playing second base. But it wouldn’t be wise to bet against this very cerebral ballplayer.
A’s Prospect of the Series:
2B-3B Trace Loehr
(7 for 12 / 2 RBIs / Stolen Base)
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