The Week in Winston: Dash update, June 30-July 6

The Dash ended up splitting a series with the Aberdeen IronBirds, a good Orioles team, and are looking to do more than split with the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Nationals), but are not off to a good start there. They went 3-3 on the week and are 1-1 in the series. At 7-4 on the second half of the season, they cling to a half-game first-place lead.

There was also a minor bit of roster tomfoolery; relief pitcher Bo Plagge was called up from the Cannon Ballers, did not play, then was returned to the Ballers two days later. Karan Patel, meanwhile, was bumped up to Birmingham the same day Plagge was put on the Dash roster, made one appearance for the Barons, allowed two runs in 1⅓ innings, then was returned to the Dash the same day Plagge went back to the Ballers. Second baseman Alsander Womack was also activated from the Injured List.

Top pitching performances

Matthew Thompson (July 1): 6 IP, 5 H, R, BB, 5 K (season: 70.1 IP, 68 H, 42 R (34 ER), 24 BB, 65 K, 4.35 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

Cristian Mena (two starts): 9 IP, 6 H, 3 R, BB, 9 K, balk (season, two levels: 67.2 IP, 57 H, 21 R (20 ER), 20 BB, 77 K, 2.66 ERA, 1.14 WHIP)

Chase Plymell (relief): 4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K (season, two levels: 42.1 IP, 43 H, 18 R (16 ER), 11 BB, 49 K, 3.40 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)

Top hitting performances

Colson Montgomery (SS): 7-for-16, 3 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K, GIDP, SF (season, two levels: 55 games, .335/.4434/.500)

Duke Ellis (LF/CF/DH): 6-for-21, 7 R, 2 3B, 0 RBI, 7 BB (!!), 7 K, 4 SB-0 CS (season: 67 games, .308/.388/.457, 33 SB-4 CS)

Tyler Osik (C/DH/1B): 7-for-17, 2 R, HR, 5 RBI, 3 K, HBP, GIDP, 1 SB-0 CS (season: 58 games, .307/.390/.444)

Oscar Colás (CF): 7-for-21, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, HBP, GIDP, 1 SB-0 CS (season: 56 games, .316/.374/.487)

Honorable mention: Ben Norman, who’s played all of 10 or so games for the Dash, went 4-for-17 over five games this week, but two of those four hits were home runs both hit on the same day.

Weekly rundown

Despite their nine hits and three walks, two of the three Dash runs on June 30 were scored on solo home runs, one off the bat of Luis Mieses (his seventh) and the other by Bryan Ramos (his 12th). 

Colson Montgomery was responsible for the other run, his eight-inning single both scoring Duke Ellis from his own single and extending Montgomery’s on-base streak to 38 games.

Chase Solesky had a rough time on the mound, his numbers pretty much reversed from usual at three innings pitched and five runs allowed. Everhett Hazelwood, Luis Amaya, and Skylar Árias combined for five innings, one run, one walk, and eight strikeouts behind him, that one run a solo shot off Amaya in the sixth. Dash lose 6-3.

It was a new day on July 1 and Matthew Thompson and the Dash dominated the IronBirds, outhitting them 10-5 and outscoring them 9-1 (and being out-errored 2-1). Thompson threw 52 of his 79 pitches for strikes and didn’t have a clean inning until the sixth, but was the beneficiary of a double play, a caught stealing, and a Duke Ellis outfield assist at second. The only run he allowed was a home run to lead off the fifth inning.

Chase Plymell then made his Dash debut to finish the last three innings, which he did with aplomb. He allowed just two baserunners, one on Montgomery’s fourth error in seven games and the other in the same inning on a walk, both stranded.

The first two Dash runs were courtesy of Ramos, who went deep for the second straight game and in so doing knocked in Montgomery from the walk that had extended his on-base streak to 39 games. 

They added two more in the fifth; Jason Matthews singled, Ellis walked, and Montgomery singled to load the bases with nobody out, then Oscar Colás shot a two-run single into center field, putting the Dash up 4-0.

In the eighth, Adam Hackenberg hit a lead-off double and scored on Tyler Osik’s single. Despite an error in right or perhaps because of it, Osik was thrown out trying to take third.

Four more runs poured on in the ninth. Montgomery singled to open the inning, his fourth time on base, then advanced to third on an error that also saw Ramos reach. Mieses singled in Montgomery to make it 6-1, then after a Hackenberg ground out, Osik homered for three runs and the eventual 9-1 Dash victory.

July 3—originally July 2 but for a rain-related suspension—was a fairly tortured, back-and-forth affair that eventually saw the Dash pull out the win in the 10th inning. Drew Dalquist followed up a series of good starts with his first true clunker in a couple of months, giving up four runs on seven hits over three innings and striking out just one. He allowed two home runs, the first of the year for both batters. All four of his runs were in the first two innings.

Even so, he exited after three only trailing 4-3. In the second inning, offseason signing Ben Norman hit his first bomb at the High-A level after going deep once for the ACL Sox, driving in Harvin Mendoza from a walk with that swing.

Two outs later, Ellis tripled for “just” the second time all year, a bit surprising given his speed and aggressiveness on the basepaths (he stole his 31st and 32nd bases in this game). He scored the short-lived game-tying run on an Osik base hit.

The Dash swung into the lead for the first time in the fourth, post-rain-delay; after two strikeouts, Ellis singled, stole second, and scored on another Osik base hit (Osik was 3-for-6). Colás walked to push Osik to second, and from there he was able to score on Ramos’s single, making it 5-4 Dash.

That lead extended to 6-4 in the fifth when Norman (normal..…. man??) lasered out his second home run of the game. Norman, 24, hit 13 dongs in 40 games for the independent-but-still-special-to-us Great Falls Voyagers in 2021.

The IronBirds got one back in the fifth, though, Wilber Pérez walking four and allowing a double at various times; all things considered, thanks to a Hackenberg/Brandon Bossard caught stealing, it could have been worse.

Entering the sixth up 6-5, Colás walked, Ramos singled him to third, and Hackenberg’s force out scored the run to push the cushion back to two runs. However, they were unable to squeeze anything else out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation.

Pitching the seventh was Cooper Bradford in his third inning of work; he almost escaped TDLW but allowed a game-tying two-run shot with two outs. The score remained tied at seven, Vince Vannelle pitching two scoreless innings, until the 10th. Ghost runner Colás was standing at third with one out after Ramos grounded him there, but was thrown out trying to score on a Hackenberg ground ball. With two outs, though, Mendoza was hit by a pitch and Norman hit an RBI single for the game-winning run.

Árias had the dangerous 10th and, despite hitting a batter, held the IronBirds scoreless, striking out two. Montgomery’s on-base streak did not extend because he did not play. Dash win 8-7.

Garrett Schoenle had been off to the races to start his career, allowing just five earned runs over his first 37⅓ innings between Kannapolis and Winston while striking out 42. In three starts since then, he’s struggled mightily, and he couldn’t finish the third inning on July 3 game two, throwing only 29 of 63 pitches for strikes, walking three, and allowing three runs (two earned). In those three latest starts, his line is 6.2 IP, 12 H, 11 R (8 ER), 6 BB, 10 K.

Luis Moncada took this one over and pitched marginally better to close out the seven-inning game, going 3⅔ innings and walking none while striking out six, but also allowing three runs (all earned and all on a fourth-inning blast). 

It was a vanishingly quiet day at the plate for the Dash, who did at least walk five times to back up their two hits. Montgomery’s streak stretched to 40 games with a fruitless double, part of a bases-loaded-one-out first inning that ended in an Osik double play. Brandon Bossard had the team’s only other hit, a fifth-inning single; he also walked.

The Dash made three errors, one of those Montgomery’s fifth since being called up. Dash lose 6-0.

For the first time since 2019, minor league teams played on a Monday, and the Dash celebrated with a July 4 win. They scored once in the first, Ellis’ third triple followed up by Montgomery reaching on a fielder’s choice and error, and that was enough for starting pitcher Cristian Mena to set it on cruise. He went five innings, giving up a scant two hits (both singles) and walking none, striking out five. He will not turn 20 until December.

Amaya inherited the 1-0 lead in the sixth inning and before long the game was tied, the result of a walk and two singles. This time, the team didn’t wait until the 10th to break the deadlock; Mieses sent his 25th double down the line to start off the seventh, then scored on a Hackenberg single. Hackenberg was safe at second after an error and was driven in by Norman, putting the Dash up 3-1. Ellis walked and Montgomery singled to score Norman, then Colás singled in Ellis to make it 5-1. 

Hazelwood and Ty Madrigal closed it out with drama-free innings. Montgomery went 2-for-3 with a walk to put his on-base streak at 41 games. Dash win 5-1, the first team in the Sox system—Sox included—to reach 40 wins. Happy Fourth of July!

Solesky was back up to five innings on July 6, at least, but he still gave up five runs so the Dash were on the back foot until mid-game. Trailing 4-0, Colás doubled for the 13th time to start the fourth inning, and after Ramos struck out, Mieses walked and Osik went deep for his second three-run blast of the week. 

The fifth and final run off Solesky came in the top of the fifth, and in the bottom, the Dash answered with two more: Alsander Womack drew TDLW and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Ellis singled him to third and stole base No. 33. Montgomery’s subsequent sacrifice fly scored Womack, cutting the Blue Rocks lead to 5-4, and enabled Ellis to tag up and take third. He scored around the tag at home on the next play to tie it 5-5, Colás safe at first on a fielder’s choice.

Plymell came out for some more (relatively) long relief and pitched precariously, dinged for three hits and a walk but still unscathed run-wise. Árias’s scoreless stretch to start his Dash career continues, as he walked two but allowed nothing else over one inning (now at 7⅓ innings total with just one hit and one walk allowed, striking out 10). 

The ninth and 10th are innings the team would probably like to forget, though: in the ninth, Womack walked and was pinch-ran-for by Jason Matthews. Ellis struck out, then Montgomery walked and Colás singled, loading the bases with one out for Ramos. On a 3-1 count with the score tied, Ramos grounded into a double play.

The 10th was Vanelle’s second inning and it started poorly and got worse. He walked the first batter, then the second singled on a bunt to Ramos at third; the ghost runner was able to score the winning run from second on Ramos’ error. There was an out at third on the play and a runner safe at third on the play. Two batters later, a double made it 7-5.

They went about as quietly as it’s possible to go in the bottom of the 10th, Mieses, Hackenberg, and Osik all going down on strikes, ghost runner Ramos festering at second alone with his thoughts. 

Montgomery has reached base in 42 straight. Mieses threw runners out from right field at second and third base. The team went 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Dash lose 7-5. 

On the horizon, the Dash play four more against the Blue Rocks before heading out to Asheville, where the woo in the air is so strong that no video signal can be sent from that ballpark. After that, they get a half-week break coinciding with the MLB All-Star Break before getting back to the grind.

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Julie Brady
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