Pensacola blew a five run lead when they allowed four in the seventh and another three in the ninth before losing to Montgomery 9-8 at Blue Wahoo Field. They entered he five-game home set three games behind the division leading Biscuits and started off well enough by winning the first game. However they’ve now dropped the last three and relocated their chances at winning the division’s second half season to the ICU. Their record is now 29-30 and they’ve fallen to third place, five games out with eleven left to play.
The Wahoos jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on the strength of a two-run triple by Bryson Smith in the first inning. After Montgomery cut the lead to one, they added a three-run home run by David Vidal in the fifth. They added on the next inning on an RBI single by Andrew Means, but the lead was not enough to overcome the strong finish by the Biscuits. Billy Hamilton drove in a run in the ninth, but he was on second base with the tying run when the game ended.
Smith and Josh Fellhauer had two hits each for Pensacola while Vidal drove in four. Mark Serrano turned in a quality start by allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk in six innings while striking out five. Justin Freeman allowed the final three Montgomery runs in the ninth for his seventh loss. The two teams will play a series finale on Thursday.
The trade of J.C. Sulburan and demotion of Tim Crabbe has caused some turnover in the Pensacola rotation this month. Serrano moved into it after being a spot starter this season and has held opponents to one earned run in his last two outings. Overall this season he’s got a 7-4 record with a mid-three ERA/1.24 WHIP.
The right-handed Serrano came into the Cincinnati organization from a sixth round pick in the 2009 draft. The Royals picked him in the 47th round out of Downey (CA) H.S. in 2004 but he opted to attend Cypress (CA) College. They went after him again with a 44th round selection the next year, but he then chose to continue playing at Oral Roberts. His pitched a fifth collegiate season there and went 9-1 with a 2.50 ERA and was named the Summit League’s Pitcher of the Year. His only loss that season was to Arizona State and current Reds pitcher Mike Leake.
After Serrano finally signed he pitched a few games at Billings and then went to Dayton. Overall he did well in 09 with a 2.11 ERA in 14 games with eight starts. As one might expect from someone drafted three times, when he finally did start professionally, he was a bit older and it was likely because of that the Reds wanted to fast-track him up the system. He had a mid-four ERA at high-A Lynchburgh in 2010 and returned to that level last season and put up another mid-four with Bakersfield. Now in AA it appears he’s taken the next step in his development.
Serrano stands 6’1”/185# and his reputation includes a great slider that’s been effective as an out pitch when he gets ahead in the count. His K/BB ratio is 328/101 in 331 minor league innings and he’s walked less than three batters per nine innings. He’s kept those rates about the same this year in AA. There was more excitement in Serrano’s projections earlier when he appeared to be a late bloomer primed to ascend rapidly up the Reds organization. Now he will turn 27 next month which makes him one of the senior citizen’s on the Blue Wahoo roster. A strong finish in 2012 could influence the Reds plans to have him resume advancement or hang around as minor league filler.
Other News from the Farm:
Louisville blew a seventh inning lead and allowed two more in the eighth in a 7-5 loss at Indianapolis. Willie Harris had only one home run this season before he hit two in the losing effort. Felix Perez kept his bat hot with two more hits to raise his average over .300. He is now 16-41 (.405) over his last ten games. Mike Costanzo added two hits. Kanekoa Texeira dodged around five hits and two walks in 2+ innings to allow two runs (one earned) and got no decision. Travis Webb allowed two in one inning and was charged with a blown save and the loss.
Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:
It looked like Hamilton was going to get the day off after breaking the minor league single steal record on Tuesday. He entered the game in the seventh to pinch run for the DH. He was ruled out during the next hitter for batter interference. He stayed in the game to single in ninth and stole second base. That increased his record to 148 steals in 122 games.
Bakersfield broke through for five in the sixth and two more in each of the next two innings in a 10-5 win over Inland Empire at Sam Lynn Field. Travis Mattair went 3-4 with a walk. Dominic D’Anna and Danny Vicioso also had three hits each including a homer by Vicioso in the eighth. Steve Selsky added two hits to the Blaze attack. Daniel Renken allowed four on six hits in six innings while striking out seven which was good enough for the win.
Dayton fell behind by three in the first inning at Bowling Green and went on to lose 12-5. Yorman Rodriguez and Nick O’Shea had two hits each and Juan Silva added a solo home run. Robert Stephenson had his worst start as a professional and took the loss. He was roughed up for seven runs (four earned) on seven hits before he was lifted in the fourth.
Billings gave up four in the third and another five in the fourth in an 11-5 loss at Idaho Falls. Jesse Winker and Daniel Pigott had two hits each for the Mustangs. Joel Bender was hammered for nine runs and eleven hits in three innings for the loss.
The AZL Reds were idle and will travel to the AZL Padres Thursday.
The DSL Reds tied their home game against the DSL Cubs1 with three in the eighth and came back to add the game winner in the ninth for a 7-6 victory. Johan Rodriguez and Ronald Bueno had two hits each for the Reds including a walk-off single by Rodriguez. Julio Torrealba allowed four runs on six hits in four innings for no decision. Josue Castellano threw a scoreless ninth and picked up his fifth win.