PRINCETON — The week started off promising, with a win against the Appalachian League West Division leading Johnson City Cardinals the Rays managed to hold off a late comeback from the to win 6-5 Wednesday night at Hunnicutt Field; but the hits did not keep coming as the boys of summer continued the win-one, lose-two pattern against both Danville and Pulaski for the rest of this week.
Ryan Allain opened the top of the ninth on the second of the Johnson City matchup by giving up a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs before being relieved by Mitchell Walters.
A popout was the first out but a double followed bringing the deficit to one with Cardinals runners on second and third. Walters struck out the next hitter before an intentional walk loaded the bases with two outs. A ground out to Jake Guenther ended the game and the first professional save for Walters.
Rays starting pitcher Jose Lopez allowed two runs, both unearned, in four innings. He scattered seven hits and two walks while striking out four. Brayden Theriot struck out four and gave up one run in two innings of relief and Bryan Herrera continued his dominance with two scoreless innings.
Guenther reached on a fielder’s choice in the second inning and Gionti Turner followed by getting hit by a pitch. Both of them scored on a double to right field by Aldenis Sanchez.
Turner opened the fourth inning with a single and scored on a single by Sanchez due to a fielding error. A double by Angelo Armenta scored Sanchez and Armenta scored on a single by Jelfry Marte.
A walk by Armenta opened the sixth and he came around to score on a single to right by Nick Schnell.
Game three against the Cardinals saw seven early runs proving too much for the Princeton Rays in a 9-5 loss to the Johnson City Cardinals Thursday night. The teams combined for 26 hits on the night, but the Cardinals took better advantage of their hits while the Rays left four runners in scoring position.
Nick Schnell opened the sixth with a walk and moved to third on a Jake Guenther double. Gionti Turner scored Schnell with a line drive just over the glove of the leaping shortstop and used his speed to sneak into second around the tag.
Guenther trotted home on a passed ball and Turner came home on a groundout by Jhosner Vargas.
The Rays threatened in the seventh with runners on the corners and in the ninth Jelfry Marte was thrown out at home on a double by Luis Leon, but they could not complete the comeback.
Rays starting pitcher Aldor Rodriguez struggled from the first pitch of the game. Two singles and a hit by pitch loaded the bases just three pitches in and a groundout drove in one run before the bases were reloaded.
The inning continued with a two-run single and an RBI double before Rodriguez got out of the inning.
After retiring the Cardinals in order in the second Rodriguez ran into trouble in the third. A double started the inning and came into score on an RBI single. After a walk the Cardinals got two run scoring singles to end Rodriguez’s night.
In the fourth start of the season for Rodriguez he only lasted 2 2/3 innings giving up seven runs on seven hits with two strikeouts.
Carter Bach pitched solid out of the bullpen going 3 1/3 innings and allowing two runs, one earned. It was the second longest outing of his professional career and he had to work out of trouble as he gave up five hits and two walks. “We were just trying to hold the runs to where they were, I know the four spot in first inning was kind of tough plus we were light in the bullpen so I was just trying to use my pitches more efficiently and make sure we had enough pitches to get through that game,” Bach said.
The five strikeouts by Bach to escape the jams were the most in one outing for Bach.
Brett Wisely opened the bottom of the first by being hit by a pitch and moved to second on a single by Marte. A double play advanced him to third before scoring on a single by Diego Infante for his team-leading 25th RBI.
The Rays added a second run in the fourth inning with a double by Schnell followed by a single from Turner.
Schnell has started to heat up for the Rays with hits in eight of his last eight games including four doubles and six runs batted in.
“The bullpen did well with Felipe and I just trying to limit and bring the momentum back to our side,” Bach said.
Friday night’s strong pitching led the Princeton Rays to a 4-2 win over the Danville Braves Friday night at Dan Daniel Memorial Park. The Rays got a strong start from Jayden Murray of four scoreless innings with five strikeouts and four hits allowed.
Trevor Bridgen struck out two in two innings of relief and Wikelman Ramirez allowed one hit in two innings while striking out three Braves hitters. Jelfry Marte doubled in the first inning and scored on a single to left field by Luis Leon for his 25th RBI of the season. It was the second straight multi-hit game for Marte who has taken time to adjust to the Appalachian League with a .185 batting average.
Both teams struggled to get hits until the eighth inning where the P-Rays took advantage of a Braves error. Brett Wisely walked with two outs and scored on a triple by Marte who also scored on a throwing error by the shortstop. The Rays added a third run in the eighth as Leon singled and scored on a double by Diego Infante for his team leading 26th RBI.
Mitchell Walters ran into some trouble in the ninth inning allowing two hits and two walks but had some help from his defense. A runner was thrown out at the plate on a relay from Infante to Wisely to Leon with no outs in the inning and the Braves (16-27) scored two runs before Walters was able to shut the door.
However hopeful the start was against Danville, the Rays could not hold on and dropped the next two in a row to the Braves, 4-3 and 2-6 on the road
The game started off strong as The Rays were in a winning position due to their pitching. P-Rays starting pitcher Christian Fernandez had his third straight start allowing two runs or less. He allowed two runs in six innings on five hits while striking out seven.
Nate Soria singled in the third and moved to second on a single by Jelfry Marte before Nick Schnell drove him in with a double. Marte was thrown out at home on the play. The Rays added two runs in the fifth inning on a solo home run by Brett Wisely and Marte being hit by a pitch before Schnell’s second double of the game scored him.
Jake Guenther led the Rays with three hits while Soria and Schnell each had a pair of hits.
After a scoreless seventh inning of relief, Ryan Allain struggled in the eighth giving up the lead.
The last game had Danville pitchers shutting out the P-Rays out for eight of nine innings and Princeton slipped another game out of contention in the Appalachian League East divisional race.
Princeton’s only two runs of the game were scored in the sixth inning, ironically enough, against eventual winning pitcher Zach Daniels (2-1), who relieved a pristine start by Lisandro Santos, who struck out five and walked three over five shutout innings.
A two-RBI single to right by Jhosner Vargas spoiled the shutout, plating Jake Guenther and Gionti Turner. Vargas finished 2-for-3. Guenther and Turner had a double apiece.
The Rays came home with the hops that the series against Pulaski could help them recover from the ups and downs, but an error by Princeton Rays left fielder Aldenis Sanchez with two outs in the sixth inning allowed Ryder Green to score the only run the Pulaski Yankees would need to collect a 1-0 Appalachian League victory over the P-Rays at Hunnicutt Field, on Monday night.
Green, who went 0-for-3 on the day for Pulaski (31-14), reached on a walk issued by pitcher Taj Bradley, who advanced Green into scoring position on a wild pickoff throw.
Saul Torres, who went 0-for-4 for the Yankees, collected the winning RBI.
The two errors marred a spirited quid pro quo pitching duel between the Princeton and Pulaski respective pitching staffs. Collectively three Yankees hurlers struck out 12 and walked two while harmlessly scattering six hits. Princeton’s four arms were good for 12 combined strikeouts and one walk, scattering seven hits.
Yankees starter Randy Vasquez (3-1) collected the win and Mitch Spence got his second save of the season. Bradley (1-5) got the downside decision for the P-Rays (20-25).
For game two, good hitting and good pitching came together Tuesday night for the Princeton Rays as they cruised to a 11-2 win over the Pulaski Yankees at Hunnicutt Field.
A career day for Nick Schnell with two home runs and a double brought out the best in his teammates with the Rays having 15 hits while only giving up five hits.
The Rays hitters wasted no time scoring with Jelfry Marte leading off the bottom of the first with a double to left and scoring when Schnell followed with a home run. A Luis Leon hit by pitch and Jake Guenther put runners on second and third before Diego Infante knocked both in one with a single. Guenther scored on a single by Gionti Turner with an Angelo Armenta single scoring Infante and Turner.
Jose Lopez (3-3) had a great start for the P-Rays throwing five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and only two hits allowed. It was the second straight scoreless start for Lopez and the third in four appearances.
Schnell doubled in the second before scoring on a single by Guenther and in the third inning Marte had an RBI single. Two more runs scored in the third on a bases loaded two-run single by Guenther.
The scoring for the Rays was finished in the fifth inning with Schnell hitting his second home run of the game. Joining Schnell with three hits for the game was Guenther who drove in three runs while Marte, Armenta and Aldenis Sanchez each had two hits.
Addison Moss struck out five in his two innings of relief while giving up one run on one hits. Carter Bach allowed one run in two innings of relief with one strikeouts.
But the Yanks came back with a vengeance winning 6-4 in the last series. Despite having allowed the third-most runs the P-Rays pitchers held their own for the first 24 innings of the series with the Yankees only scoring four runs.
Pulaski struggled to get clutch hits in the first six inning but came up big in the seventh. Princeton reliever Ryan Allain gave up a single and double to score one run and cut the lead to two before being relieved by Bryan Herrera.
Herrera has been the top reliever for the Rays this season allowing runs in only one of his 12 appearances. He struggled from the outset walking two straight hitters to load the bases, coming into the game he had only four walks in 20 innings.
A sacrifice fly to right field scored one run and advanced the other two before both of them scored on a single.
It was the best start of the season for Aldor Rodriguez allowing one run in five innings. In his last start Rodriguez allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Rodriguez stuck out four and gave up five hits with the only run coming on a solo home run in the fifth.
The most trouble that Rodriguez got into was in the first inning where a double was followed by a single, but the Pulaski runner was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double. Rodriguez got a strikeout and groundout to escape the inning scoreless.
The Rays offense only managed to get five hits but took advantage of five early walks to score four runs.
Consecutive walks to Nate Soria and Brett Wisely opened the third inning for the Rays before a double by Diego Infante scored Soria.
Wisely and Infante scored on a single by Jake Guenther that was just out of the reach of the drawnin second baseman.
Infante has been one of the key run producers for the P-Rays with 28 runs batted in this season and ten home runs.
Schnell continued his hot streak with a double to begin the fifth inning and scored when Gionti Turner sent a single just past the glove of the Yankees third baseman.
Rays shortstop Angelo Armenta kept a run off the board in the sixth inning with a diving catch on a line drive to end the inning. Allain threw a scoreless sixth inning but could not get an out in the seventh. Herrera pitched a scoreless eighth after giving up the lead in the seventh.
Yankees reliever Tyler Johnson kept the Rays off the bases with 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief and struck out six.
Mercer Cup action began on Thursday night with the start of a three game series against the Bluefield Blue Jays in Bluefield, then the Rays will take to the road Sunday to face Johnson City in another three game set before heading home to face Bristol next Thursday.