The Week in Winston: Dash update, Aug. 25-31

Last week, the Dash went 1-5 after losing most of their top talent to Project Birmingham. This week, they lost most of the rest of it, starting pitchers Cristian Mena and Norge Vera both making their ascent (or those promotions at least becoming official), but the team made adjustments and went 2-4.

Shortstop Taishi Nakawake joined the team from the ACL White Sox and starter Hunter Dollander was promoted from the Cannon Ballers, both free agent signings during this season.

Top pitching performances

Tommy Sommer (two starts): 12 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 12 K, 2 PO (1B, 1B) (season, two levels: 113 IP, 86 H, 43 R (36 ER), 39 BB, 120 K, 2.87 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)

Chase Solesky (August 28): 5 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (season: 105.1 IP, 113 H, 53 R (50 ER), 30 BB, 74 K, 4.27 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)

Haylen Green (relief): 3 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K (season, three levels: 60.1 IP, 55 H, 32 R (28 ER), 17 BB, 59 K, 4.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)

Top hitting performances

James Beard (CF): 5-for-13, 7 R, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 SB-2 CS (season, two levels: 78 games, .172/.310/.272, 6 HR, 49 BB, 126 K, 29 SB-9 CS)

Colby Smelley (C/DH): 5-for-20, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 GIDP (season, two levels: 94 games, .272/.386/.377, 4 HR, 48 BB, 92 K)

Honorable mention: Riley Jepson, whose Dash debut this week was also his professional debut, was 3-for-20 but walked seven times.

Weekly rundown

Aug. 25

Southpaw Tommy Sommer (lives on water) was drafted in the 10th round last year, and ever since, he’s been one of the few pitching bright spots in the system. He was promoted to the Dash mid-July and has yet to allow more than three runs in a start or go fewer than 4.1 innings. He gave up just one run to the Asheville Tourists, an Astros affiliate, over six innings on the 25th, a two-out fourth-inning double knocking in a leadoff walk.

Still trailing 1-0 entering the fifth, the Dash made the most of the two hits they were allotted for this game: Ivan González doubled, Jason Matthews walked, and James Beard homered for the first time at the level to drive in three runs and put the team up 3-1.

Sommer exited after 81 pitches and was replaced by Everhett Hazelwood, who pitched 1.2 innings without damage, then Skylar Árias brought them to the ninth. Árias, a 25-year-old lefty drafted by the now-Guardians in 2016 and signed by the Sox as a free agent in June, had a fantastic start to his Dash career; he covered 15 innings in his first 15 games and struck out 27 while allowing just one earned run. In six Dash appearances since then, not including a single multi-run 0.1-inning stint with the Barons, he has a line of 4.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 BB, and 6 K.

He started the ninth with a walk, hit by pitch, and single to load them up, then induced a swinging strikeout on a full count before allowing a game-tying double. After an intentional walk to load the bases, Luis Amaya came in, walked the first batter he faced to force in a run (4-3 Tourists), walked the second batter he faced to force in a run (5-3), then gave up a sacrifice fly to make it 6-3 Tourists, which was the final score.

Despite only two hits, the Dash did walk seven times, something that ultimately did not matter in this game.

Aug. 26

The first of two Dash victories this week was courtesy of a barrage of ultra-late-inning runs, nine of their 10 total coming in the eighth inning or later, including three in extras. Hunter Dollander was signed in June and made his Dash debut after pitching his way up through the ACL and Kannapolis, putting up good numbers in both places. His first High-A start did not go so well, although of the six runs he allowed, only five were earned, shortstop Andy Atwood’s error leading to a run scoring. That error was part of a five-run fourth, all of it Dollander’s, most of it on a bases-clearing triple with one out. 

Down 6-0 in the fourth, Alsander Womack led off with a double, advanced to third on Ben Norman’s ground out, and was driven in on catcher Colby Smelley’s base hit, a symbolic first shot. Reliever Angel Acevedo, who spent most of this season with the Cannon Ballers, debuted for the Dash in the fifth and went two innings, walking none but allowing one run on four hits, making the score 7-1 Tourists.

Haylen Green also made his team debut with two scoreless, taking the Dash to the eighth still down 7-1. In the bottom of that inning, recent signee Riley Jepson drew a one-out walk and Harvin Mendoza doubled him in (7-2). 

Two consecutive wild pitches allowed Mendoza to score (7-3), not an easy task for someone who isn’t exactly a speedster.

Ty Madrigal contributed a scoreless top of the ninth before the Dash exploded for four to tie it. Beard reached on an error to start things off, then scored thanks to Andy Atwood’s single and another error (7-4). Womack singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out, and Norman grounded out, which knocked in a run (7-5). Smelley singled to refresh the corners, then Jepson hit a game-tying single to make it seven all around.

In the top of the 10th, the Tourists scored two off Cooper Bradford on back-to-back doubles, putting the Dash back in a 9-7 hole when they came to the plate. Keegan Fish was the ghost runner and he immediately took third on a wild pitch, then was driven in by Beard’s infield single. After another wild pitch, Womack singled in Beard to tie it back up at nine.

Nick Gallagher took what would end up being the final inning, marred only by a hit by pitch, and thankfully did not have to hit for himself in the bottom of the inning; the team lost the DH when Fish replaced Smelley behind the plate, but pinch hitter Brandon Bossard did what a pitcher could never do: sacrifice bunted the ghost runner to third.

Kind of hilariously, this induced the Tourists to intentionally walk the next two batters, Jepson and Mendoza, but with an 0-2 count, Fish singled to right for the walk-off 10-9 victory, his second walk-off of the month.

Aug. 27

The Dash walked seven batters and gave up 11 runs on 14 hits in a very forgettable Saturday bullpen game. Luis Moncada, who did dabble with starting earlier this year, got the call as the opener; he walked three, threw a wild pitch, and gave up two singles and a double in a five-run third inning. Karan Patel added three more runs over two innings, Jordan Mikel gave up one in his return from a two-month stay on the Injured List, and Wilber Pérez chipped in two more in two innings. Amaya was the sole pitcher to not allow a run, pitching a scoreless ninth.

Eight walks and five hits led to just three runs for the Dash at the plate, double plays grounded into by Smelley and Womack and a caught stealing for Bossard not contributing to scoring efforts. Unlike August 25, when they were no-hit through four innings, here they were no-hit through 5.2 innings, scoring two runs at the same time: Smelley’s first double with the Dash scored both Womack and Norman from walks.

Matthews doubled to lead off the ninth and scored on Bossard’s single, but the rally ended there. Dash lose 11-3.

Aug. 28

The Tourists exited Winston-Salem the decisive winners of the six-game homestand, going 5-1 over the hometown team. For the second straight day, the Dash allowed 11 runs, and for the second time in the homestand, they only amassed two hits. Chase Solesky was dominant on the mound, allowing a two-out single in the first inning and not one other baserunner through five. He left with a 2-0 lead, but you can see where this is going.

Chase Plymell entered, making this a two-Chase game, and left one inning later with the Dash trailing 4-2 after a four-hit sixth. Hazelwood only made it through two thirds of the seventh before ceding to Bradford with two on, two out and four runs in; Bradford allowed an inherited run to score on a single to make it five total.

Bradford gave up a run of his own on a solo shot in the eighth and Árias’s tumble continued with a two-walk ninth that saw the Tourists score their 11th run.

Neither Dash hit, a fourth-inning Mendoza single and a sixth-inning González double, contributed to scoring, which all happened in the third. Weaver was hit by a pitch and Beard walked, then they executed a double steal and Womack hit a sacrifice fly that was misplayed catastrophically enough by the center fielder that both were able to score on the error. 

Dash lose 11-2.

Aug. 30

Humiliatingly, the Dash were thoroughly outplayed by the rival Greensboro Grasshoppers on August 30, trailing 6-0 after four and never coming close to recovering. Brooks Gosswein made his third start at the level and it was his worst, giving up six runs (one unearned due to another Atwood error) over 3.2 innings. He walked four, struck out three, and allowed two solo home runs.

Acevedo and Gallagher both pitched well behind him. Madrigal gave up a seventh-inning run on two singles, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly, then Green kept his Dash ERA at zero with another scoreless inning.

Offense was tepid, as offense has been; a third-inning Beard single was their only hit until the seventh, when Mendoza and Jepson were both stranded after singles. Beard doubled and scored in the eighth on a Womack sacrifice fly, the only Dash run of the game. Dash lose 7-1.

Aug. 31

Tommy Sommer (don’t need no one) put down yet another strong six innings, giving up two runs this time and decision less despite the eventual 10-3 victory. Mikel pitched two scoreless innings and Patel gave up a run in a crowded bottom of the ninth, but at that point it didn’t matter.

The Dash didn’t make a lot of noise with the bats until the seventh, when Weaver went deep for three runs, scoring Matthews from a walk and Taishi Nakawake from a single.

They then enjoyed a six-run eighth; Atwood hit a leadoff single and stole second after Norman struck out. Beard walked, then Matthews singled, loading the bases. Nakawake drove in a run with a sac fly (4-2), Weaver tripled in two more (6-2), then Womack doubled to score Weaver (7-2). Smelley and Jepson both walked, then Atwood, batting for the second time in the frame, hit a two-run double (9-2) before Norman grounded out to end the inning.

Not satisfied yet, Beard led off the top of the ninth with his second home run of the week, putting the final score at 10-2 Dash.

The end is nigh: after wrapping up the homestand against the Grasshoppers, the Dash host the Cyclones starting September 6 for the last series of the year. At 21-34 in the second half and 55-67 overall, the Dash are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

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Julie Brady
Julie Brady
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