Brant Hurter and Troy Melton star as Whitecaps and Flying Tigers win on Friday

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Omaha Storm Chasers 9, Toledo Mud Hens 4 (box)

The Storm Chasers bounced back on Friday, pummeling Hens’ starter Reese Olson to run away with this one and get back in the series. The Hens remains up 3-1 with two games remaining this weekend.

Olson has had some home run trouble, and concerns remain about his fastball, but that wasn’t really the issue on Friday. The Storm Chasers just kept stringing together hits, racking up seven runs on eight hits and a walk, against six strikeouts.

Akil Baddoo has been dangerous out of the Hens’ leadoff spot so far, and he was at it again in this one. Baddoo started the game with a triple to right field and scored on a passed ball. With two outs, the Hens still had a chance to post a big inning with runners on first and second and two outs, but Justyn-Henry Malloy grounded out to end the inning.

Olson gave up a leadoff single, wild pitched the runner to second, and was a bit victimized by the official scored as his infield let a pop-up drop in for an RBI single. A two out double scored the runner from first, and the Storm Chasers led 2-1. They’d never fall behind in this one.

A Brendon Davis home run, his first on the year, briefly tied the game in the top of the second, but Olson issued a two-out walk and then a double and single. The Storm Chasers led 4-2 headed into the third. A leadoff home run in the third made it 5-2, and then things finally collapsed for Olson in the fourth as he gave up a leadoff single, again wild pitched the runner to second, and then gave up another single. Olson struck out Samad Taylor, but that was the end of his outing. Kervin Castro came on in relief and wasn’t able to smother the rally. Castro surrendered a walk and then a single to allow one run. A passed ball on Andrew Knapp allowed another one, and when the dust cleared it was 8-2 Storm Chasers.

The Hens scored a run in the seventh when Zack Short and Parker Meadows walked and a Tyler Nevin single scored Short. They got another in the top of the ninth on a leadoff double from Knapp, and a Baddoo RBI single, but they never came close to mounting a comeback.

Lefty Andrew Magno did make his Triple-A debut in this one and was impressive in his two innings of work. Magno can bring some heat from the left side and packs a pretty nasty slider. He punched out three in two scoreless innings, giving up a single and a walk along the way, and he’s another one who could be an option for the Tigers later on this season.

Baddoo: 3-4, R, RBI, 3B, BB

Nevin: 2-4, RBI, BB

Meadows: 0-3, 2 BB, SO

Olson (L, 0-2): 3.1 IP, 7 ER, BB, 6 SO

Coming Up Next: RHP Ashton Goudeau (0-0, 2.25 ERA) goes for the Hens at 3:05 p.m. ET on Saturday. Omaha hasn’t announced a starter.

Akron RubberDucks 6, Erie SeaWolves 4 (box)

The SeaWolves backed starter Brant Hurter with two early runs, and Hurter, a breakout candidate this season and our 19th ranked Tigers’ prospect, responded with four strong frames. The big lefty allowed a pair of singles and a pair of walks, striking out six. Unfortunately the bullpen crumbled late as Akron evened the series at a game apiece.

Outfielder Grant Witherspoon led off the second with a walk, and a Jake Holton single followed. Catcher Julio E. Rodriguez reached on an error, and a pair of sacrifice flies pushed two runs across. The SeaWolves had some chances in the middle innings, but couldn’t add-on any runs.

Starter Dylan Smith, ranked 18th in the Tigers system, took over in the fifth to get his first work of the year, but he walked the first three batters he faced and eventually allowed Akron to tie things up. He was lifted for reliever Yaya Chentouf after an extremely messy season debut.

A single, three walks, and an error allowed the SeaWolves to re-open a two-run lead in the top of the sixth. Akron came right back with three more against Chentouf in the bottom half, and they added another one in the seventh to pull away.

There were 10 hits and 20 walks issued in this game, so neither pitching staff distinguished themselves. Hurter was easily the best of the bunch on either side, however.

Hurter: 4.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 SO

Keith: 1-5

Rodriguez: 1-3, R, BB

Coming Up Next: RHP Ty Madden, arguably the Tigers’ third-ranked pitching prospect behind Wilmer Flores and Jackson Jobe, makes his first start on Saturday, taking on LHP Joey Cantillo at 6:05 p.m. ET.

West Michigan Whitecaps 8, Fort Wayne TinCaps 2 (box)

Good pitching and big days from the top of the Whitecaps’ lineup carried them to a 2-0 record on the young season.

Lefty Carlos Pena spun four scoreless innings, scattering a pair of singles and striking out four. Meanwhile, the offense was building an insurmountable lead.

Jace Jung got things started in the bottom of the first with a one out single. Ben Malgeri was hit by a pitch and after Izaac Pacheco flew out, Roberto Campos drew a walk to load the bases. Chris Meyers came through with a bases clearing double, and it was 3-0 ‘Caps.

DH Justice Bigbie started things right back up in the second with a one-out triple. Danny Serretti, hitting leadoff, followed with a triple of his own to score Bigbie, and Jung singled Serretti home to make it 5-0.

RHP Garrett Burhenn took over for the Whitecaps in the fifth and surrendered a pair of runs, but the offense poured it on from there to pull away for good.

Malgeri led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, and Pacheco and Campos followed with a walk and a single to left, loading the bases. They only managed to cash in one run on an Eduardo Valencia sacrifice fly. However, in the sixth Jung drew a two-out walk and Malgeri followed with his second home run in as many games. It was 8-2, and the TinCaps never threatened again.

Malgeri: 2-3, 3 R, 2 RBI, HR

Jung: 2-4, 2 R, RBI, BB, SO

Serretti: 2-5, R, RBI, 2B, 3B, SO

Pena: 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 SO

Coming Up Next: RHP Keider Montero, our 20th ranked Tigers prospect, makes his debut at 2:00 p.m. ET on Saturday as the Whitecap look to make it three in a row to open the year. RHP Adam Mazur will go for the TinCaps.

Lakeland Flying Tigers 7, Tampa Tarpons 4 (box)

After falling behind early on, the Flying Tigers poured on the offense through the middle innings and didn’t stop there, taking it to the Tarpons, the NY Yankees’ Low-A affiliate, to win on Florida State League Opening Day in Tampa.

RHP Troy Melton, our 23rd ranked Tigers’ prospect, got the start for the Flying Tigers and was pretty impressive, if still raw. Melton can already run his fourseamer up into the high-90’s, and the velocity was on display in this one. He allowed a two-run home run in the second inning, but he also struck out seven with no walks in his four innings of work. Melton needs to sharpen his secondary pitches, but his control was certainly there in this one. He’s going to be viewed more as a future relief candidate until he shows a more diverse and effective set of pitches overall, but this was a nice debut. He probably shouldn’t be in Lakeland very long once the development staff has him dialed into the things he needs to work on this season.

After Melton allowed the Tarpons to seize a 2-0 lead, the offense got to work in the third. OF Jose De La Cruz led off with a single, and Seth Stephenson drew a one-out walk. 2B Wenceel Perez, on rehab assignment for a lower back injury, smoked a double to left to score De La Cruz. SS Peyton Graham grounded out, but 1B Andrew Jenkins followed with a triple to plate both runs and make it 3-2 Flygers.

A one-out double from catcher Mike Rothenberg in the fourth started things up again for Lakeland’s offense. He advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a Carlos Pelegrin single. The outfielder then stole second base and took third on a dropped strike three that allowed the speedy Dom Johnson to reach first on the play. Pelegrin scored on a ground out, and it was 5-2.

Reliever Gregoris Chalas allowed a pair of runs to the Tarpons in the sixth, but not before 3B Cristian Santana had led off the top of the inning with a single, stole second base, and scored on a Pelegrin single. They added one more for good measure in the seventh, courtesy of a Wenceel Perez double and an eventual passed ball that allowed Perez to score from third. They won’t have Wenceel to power things too much longer, as he’s probably bound for Erie soon.

Perez, Wenceel: 3-4, 2 R, RBI, 2B

Pelegrin: 2-3, R, 2 RBI, SO, 2 SB

Santana: 1-4, R, SB

Melton: 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 7 SO

Coming Up Next: The second game of the season is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, but no starters have been announced.

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