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The Dash series against the first-place Bowling Green Hot Rods started well, the team taking two of three, but they lost the last three straight for an overall series loss and went a forgettable 2-4 on the week.
There was also quite a bit of roster movement as we head into the time of year where either everyone is hurt, or players have simply played themselves to a different level. The Dash said goodbye to relief pitchers Trey Jeans (promoted to Birmingham), Jesus Valles (bumped down to Kannapolis), and Wilber Perez (transferred to Development List). They also lost second baseman Alsander Womack and Terrell Tatum to the Injured List.
In exchange, the Dash received outfielder Ben Norman and infielder Brandon Bossard from the ACL and relief pitcher Chase Plymell and starter Cristian Mena from the Cannon Ballers. Mena, 19 years old and in his second pro season, has made himself the most intriguing prospect here. In 53⅔ innings, he has a 2.68 ERA with 66 strikeouts against 15 walks. In 11 starts for the Cannon Ballers, he went at least six shutout innings with five or fewer hits four times, including one outing where he took a no-hitter through one out in the seventh of a seven-inning doubleheader game, striking out 10. He has yet to appear for the Dash.
Top pitching performances
Garrett Schoenle (two starts): 9 IP, 8 H, 4 R, BB, 9 K, HBP, WP (season, two levels: 41.1 IP, 21 H, 10 R (7 ER), 16 BB, 47 K, 1.52 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 16 appearances, three starts)
Chase Solesky (June 17): 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, K (season: 56.1 IP, 67 H, 28 R (26 ER), 17 BB, 38 K, 4.15 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)
Drew Dalquist (June 21): 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, BB, 7 K, WP, HBP (season: 56 IP, 56 H, 39 R (35 ER), 34 BB, 43 K, 5.63 ERA, 1.61 WHIP)
Luis Amaya (relief): 4 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K (season: 16.2 IP, 20 H, 10 R (7 ER), 12 BB, 19 K, 3.78 ERA, 1.92 WHIP)
Karan Patel (relief): 3.2 IP, H, R, 0 BB, 5 K, 2-0 inherited runners-scored (season: 31.1 IP, 24 H, 19 R (17 ER), 21 BB, 42 K, 4.88 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)
Top hitting performances
Oscar Colás (DH/CF): 8-for-20, 5 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, K, SF (season: .292/.351/.484)
Moisés Castillo (SS): 6-for-19, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K (season: .288/.396/.331)
Honorable mention: Duke Ellis only went 5-for-22, but those five hits did include a cycle in pieces throughout the week. He was caught stealing for only the third time all year.
Garrett Schoenle and the bullpen were excellent on June 16, holding the Rays-affiliated Hot Rods to one run, a seventh-inning dinger, on just three hits. Schoenle made his second-ever start after pitching his first 30 or so professional innings out of the bullpen, using 66 pitches (43 strikes) to cut through Bowling Green like a plowshare through soft turf. He went five innings, giving up two hits—both singles—and walking none.
Wilber Perez had an uneventful seventh inning in relief, then Karan Patel entered to protect a 1-0 lead and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced; Patel earned the blown save but also the win, the classic BS W. Vince Vannelle threw two scoreless innings, walking two and striking out three, for the save.
The top half of the lineup went 9-for-19 and the bottom half went 0-for-13 with the team’s only walk, drawn by Adam Hackenberg. Duke Ellis started the game off strong with a ground rule double in the top of the first, stole third base, then scored on an Oscar Colás sacrifice fly. This lead held until the seventh, when Patel allowed the game-tying dong.
They regained the lead the very next half-inning, Brandon Bossard hit by a pitch with one out and Ellis singling him to second in the eighth. Moisés Castillo hit an RBI single that he attempted to stretch into an RBI double, but was nabbed at second on the throw. Colás singled in the next at-bat to score Ellis, making it a 3-1 Dash victory.
PERTINENT: In-person impressions from June 16
Things did not go so well on June 17, despite another weirdly strong outing from Chase Solesky. In 13 starts this season, the 6-foot-3-inch righty has allowed four or more earned runs three times, all three of those in his first five. Since then, he has a line of 36.2 IP, 38 H, 13 R (12 ER), 9 BB, and 25 K, good for a 2.95 ERA. His strikeout rate has been oddly low this year — 6.1 K/9 as opposed to a career rate of 9.2 — but this is his best season so far so it doesn’t appear to have hurt him yet.
In any event, the two runs he allowed in five innings on the 17th were absolutely enough to get him the loss. The Dash were unable to do much of anything against Hot Rods pitcher Logan Workman and the bullpen, who combined to strike out 10 and walk none. The one Dash run came the old-fashioned way, on a blast off the bat of Colás, his sixth of the year.
Castillo picked up two singles. He and Harvin Mendoza, who singled and was hit by a pitch, were the only Dash batters to safely reach base more than once. Ellis very technically did not reach base safely at all, but he did reach on error, which allowed him to then steal a base for the 25th time.
In relief, Everhett Hazelwood gave up an unearned run due to a Hackenberg error; Hazelwood has appeared nine times for the Dash and has allowed at least one run, earned or otherwise, in six of those outings. The newly-signed Skyler Árias threw a scoreless inning and Ty Madrigal was lucky to only allow one run in the eighth, the solo shot he gave up immediately preceded by a Hackenberg pickoff at third base. Dash lose 4-1.
June 18 was a bullpen game, the entire system experiencing a dearth of healthy and capable starting pitchers; it ended up being the truest form of bullpen game, in the sense that bullpen games traditionally happen when the starter can’t go deep and the relievers are left to mop up a lopsided game, just without a starter struggling to go deep here first.
Not struggling to go deep were the Hot Rods batters, specifically shortstop Alika Williams, who hit two home runs—one off Perez and one off Jesus Valles—and a double. Perez and Valles combined to give up five runs in their last appearances with the team, at least for now. Cooper Bradford and Luis Moncada also gave up multiple runs each, although one of Bradford’s was unearned due to a Jason Matthews error at short. The plan may have been to see how many innings Moncada could eat up, as he’s typically a starter, but he was only able to get two outs before having to be removed with five more runs added to his season total.
Luis Amaya pitched the final two innings. He did not give up a run, pitching around four singles and a walk.
For the second day in a row, the Dash walked zero times. In the game before that happy streak started, they walked once. Here, they didn’t even have the benefit of a Colás dinger, although he was 1-for-3. He and Mendoza were the only two Dash baserunners all game, both with singles. Dash lose 12-0.
The series ended with a 7-5 loss on June 19, the bats showing some signs of life but the bullpen and defense showing the opposite (uncommunicative death). Matthew Thompson was not as effective as he has been, giving up two home runs, but all three runs came on those two hits and he walked none over his four innings.
Matthews ended up having a five-error week between second base and shortstop; his fifth error (and 10th this season) led to unearned runs for not one but two pitchers, Jeans and Hazelwood. Vannelle also allowed a run, his earned on an eighth-inning bomb, and Árias was again the only Dash pitcher not to be scored upon.
Ellis broke up the no-hitter in the fourth with a base hit, initiating a Duke Ellis Special, but was caught stealing second, putting him at 25-3 on the season in stolen base attempts. He was then summarily ejected without trial, presumably from the dugout as it happened after the next batter, Castillo, singled.
Colás walked and Bryan Ramos singled to load the bases with one out, and despite the opportunity, they were only able to get one run out of it, a Hackenberg fly ball deep enough for Castillo to tag up.
Three more runs crossed the plate for the Dash in the top of the sixth; Castillo walked and Colás singled to start the inning off, then Ramos hit his team-leading 11th home run to make it, at that point, a tie game at four.
They entered the ninth trailing 7-4 and added one more when Tyler Osik doubled in Bossard from a single, but that was all they could muster and they fell 7-5.
PERTINENT: In-person impressions from June 19
The Dash got a fresh start on June 21st with the first game of a six-game set against the Hudson Valley Renegades, a Yankees affiliate. Drew Dalquist ventured into the sixth inning for the second time this year, removed after one out and two consecutive singles. Two of the three runs he allowed were on solo home runs and the other came on a force out in a high-traffic second inning. Dalquist struck out seven and walked one.
Patel was excellent through 2⅔ perfect innings, striking out four, and Vannelle persevered through a walk and a single for a scoreless ninth.
One of the solo homers off Dalquist came in the top of the first, and the Dash responded quickly when Colás did the same thing in the bottom of the inning, his seventh.
They scored four more in the third, Ellis hitting his first triple to lead off and scoring immediately on Castillo’s base hit. Colás singled Castillo to third, Ramos drove in Castillo and took second on the throw, then Luis Mieses doubled for the 22nd time to drive them both in and make it 5-2 Dash. Optimistically, Hackenberg drew a no-out walk, but he and Mieses were stranded without advancing.
Ellis reasserted himself as a power threat in the fourth inning, his seventh home run putting him back into a tie with Colás for second place on the team, making the score at that point 6-2.
The sixth inning housed their final run, which crossed the plate with remarkably little offense: with one out, Bossard was hit by a pitch, Ellis struck out, Castillo walked, and Colás struck out BUT reached first to load the bases on a wild strike three. With two outs, Ramos grounded out to second base, but the shortstop made an error and everybody was safe. Mieses flied out to end the inning. Final score 7-3 Dash.
Game two of the series on June 22 saw a pretty decent start by Schoenle and a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth that failed to walk off the game solely because the Renegades had four runs. Schoenle allowed four runs over four innings, two unearned on a Mieses error (Mieses playing first base for the third time all season); the two-run dong in the second was all earned, though. He struck out five and walked one.
Bradford pitched two innings of scoreless relief, although one of the five singles he allowed knocked in an inherited run for Schoenle. Amaya capped off a good week with two scoreless and Chase Plymell made his Dash debut with a scoreless ninth.
Dash bats were largely stymied by Matt Sauer, who allowed only three hits over six innings. They entered the ninth inning trailing 4-0 with only three hits. Colás and Ramos both walked to lead the inning off, then Mieses did what he does best, hit a double for the 23rd time this year to score them both, making it 4-2.
Mieses took third on an error during the play and scored two batters later on an Osik sac fly. That run was sandwiched by a Hackenberg pop-up and Ben Norman looking at strike three on an 0-2 count in his first Dash at-bat to end the game. Dash lose 4-3.
Looking ahead, the Dash hope to recover from their recent woes and right the ship against Hudson Valley. Then it’s off to Aberdeen, where the Ironbirds, an Orioles affiliate, nest. As of June 22, the Dash are 33-32. The Renegades are 33-32. The Ironbirds are 43-22.