Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Game 27: Princeton Rays at Bluefield Blue Jays

Sorry about the lack of a game post last night. The internet was down all around the area all day yesterday, but it's back today.

Sadly there is no broadcast tonight...check out the @BluefieldJays Twitter page for mid-game updates

RAYS (14-14)

1 Brandon Martin SS
2 Andrew Toles CF
3 Reid Redman 2B
4 Willie Argo RF
5 Omar Narvaez C
6 Darryl George 1B
7 Daniel Duran 3B
8 Julian Morillo DH
9 James Harris LF

RHP Eli Echarry (0-1, 9.50)

BLUE JAYS (11-15)

1 Alex Azor LF
2 Christian Lopes 2B
3 Dwight Smith Jr. CF
4 Art Charles 1B
5 Santiago Nessy C
6 Eric Arce DH
7 Dickie Joe Thon SS
8 Matt Dean 3B
9 Jacob Anderson DH

LHP Daniel Norris (1-1, 3.31)


BROADCAST INFO: Listen live right here for Blue Jays pregame at 6:50. The games are also carried on local radio on WKEZ 1240 AM The Rooster Classic Country

WEATHER: 75 and clear 

UMPIRES: PLATE Troy Hodack  FIELD Nick Garvey

ABOUT LAST NIGHT...: The Bluefield Blue Jays began their Mercer Cup title defense with a 5-4 win over the rival Princeton Rays in front of 1,176 at Bowen Field on Tuesday. Center fielder Alex Azor, fresh off the disabled list, ignited a rally in the bottom of the eighth with a double and scored the winning run. Wil Browning slammed the door on a Princeton threat with two strikeouts to end the game. The Jays held a lead for most of the game, but the Rays came back from 4-0 down to tie the game in the top of the eighth. Azor doubled to start the eighth against Alex Keudell. Santiago Nessy was hit by a pitch and Art Charles followed with a single. Azor stopped at third but when right fielder Willie Argo’s throw back to the infield sailed to the backstop, Azor scampered home with the go-ahead run. Kevin Comer pitched four innings of relief to get through the eighth and came out for the top of the ninth to try to finish the game. Oscar Hernandez walked and after John Alexander was called safe at first on an apparent double play, Darryl George singled to put the tying and go-ahead runs on with only one out. Righty Wil Browning was called in from the bullpen and came back from a 3-1 count to strike out James Harris Jr. swinging. He followed with a swinging strikeout of Brandon Martin to close the game and record his first save since his call-up from the Gulf Coast League. The win gives Bluefield a 1-0 advantage in the 11-game Mercer Cup series. The Baby Jays jumped out to an early lead on back-to-back doubles by Eric Arce and Dickie Thon. Arce then crushed a two-run shot in the bottom of the fourth that expanded the lead to 4-0. Roberto Osuna excelled in his four-inning start for Bluefield. He shut out the Rays and held them to four hits. He struck out three and walked one before passing the baton to Comer. Piggybacking on Osuna’s start, the righty allowed four runs, three earned, in four and one-third innings.

VS. THE RAYS: The Blue Jays defeated Princeton in seven of 11 games last year to win the Mercer Cup. They took three of four in Princeton from June 30 to July 3 before dropping a July 4 meeting at home, 5-4. Princeton won two of three at Bowen Field at the end of July in a set that included a doubleheader split. So the Mercer Cup was tied 4-4 with three games to play in Bluefield on August 9-11. The Jays won 6-2, then Deivy Estrada pitched five shutout innings the next night to win the clincher and keep the Rays from retiring the Cup. 


NORRIS: One of the most highly-touted prospects in the Toronto farm system is back on the mound after yet another shortened start. After facing only two batters before rain ended a game in Burlington on July 9, lefty Daniel Norris pitched one scoreless inning in Pulaski on Friday before a rain delay of nearly two and a half hours abridged his outing again. His opponent batting average of .167 is the fifth-lowest among Appy League hurlers who have thrown 15 or more innings. The 2011 second-round pick was rated by Baseball America as the fourth-best prospect in the Jays’ entire organization. In 2011 BA ranked him second among high-school prospects and 91st overall. The former Clemson signee struck out 123 batters in 68 innings as a senior at Science Hill HS in his native Johnson City, TN.

ECHARRY: 20-year-old right-hander Eli Echarry draws the start for game two of the Mercer Cup. He was rocked for five runs on six hits in three innings of work in a loss at Danville on Monday. Appy League hitters have batted .346 against him, only teammate Hugo Duarte (.369) has a worse BAA among pitchers with as many innings pitched as his 18. This is his first season in Princeton after going 0-5 with a 7.05 ERA last year in the Gulf Coast League. He spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons in the Venzuelan Summer League, registering a 4.27 ERA. Hailing from La Guaira, Venezuela, Echarry was signed by Tampa Bay on July 3, 2008.

MERCER CUP: The summer of 2012 will feature another exciting edition of Minor League Baseball’s greatest rivalry. The Bluefield Blue Jays and Princeton Rays are separated by only 12 miles and for the past 20 seasons these Appalachian League foes have played for the Mercer Cup , a five-foot trophy that also grants the winner bragging rights for the next 12 months. The Mercer Cup dates back to 1992, when Princeton was an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Reds General Manager Jim Holland came up with the idea to award the massive trophy to the winner of the 11-game season series between the Mercer County neighbors. A local trophy maker wanted to get involved with the Princeton team and Holland dreamt up the idea of the Cup and teamed up with then Bluefield GM George McGonagle to make it happen. Of the first 20 sets, Bluefield has won 11 series and Princeton has won eight. The 1994 series ended in a tie, but Bluefield kept the Cup. An interesting wrinkle of the Mercer Cup is that when one city wins three years in a row, that trophy is retired for them to keep and a new one is put into circulation. Bluefield retired Cups in 1995 and 2001 and Princeton turned the trick in 2007. In 2011, Princeton was aiming to retire the Cup again after winning in 2009 and 2010. After a 4-4 split of the first eight games, Bluefield, in their first season under the Blue Jays’ umbrella, swept the final three games to take back the Cup. July 17 marks the continuation of the rivalry, which has continued through affiliation changes, which include Princeton’s switch from the Reds to the Devil Rays in 1997 and Bluefield’s change from the Orioles to the Blue Jays in 2011. Whether it’s at Bowen Field in Bluefield or up Route 19 at Hunnicutt Field in Princeton, this Mercer County battle for bragging rights transcends the Appy League season and gives this community a unique baseball tradition.

SHINING STAR: Left fielder Eric Arce has been on an incredible tear this week. He was 6-for-11 with four homers, 13 RBIs and six runs scored in his last four games before two late strikeouts last night. He hit his first homer of the season in Pulaski on Friday and added a two-run double in his next at bat. He had a career night on Monday in a twinbill finale at Elizabethton. He cracked a grand slam in the first inning and a three-run homer in the second and his seven runs batted in are the most in a game for a Bluefield player since the club’s affiliation change in 2011. Last night, Arce doubled and scored the first run of the game in the second inning, then crushed a two-run homer in the fourth.

Bluefield Blue Jays Game Notes 7-18

Check out the @BluefieldJays Twitter page for mid-game updates

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