On Tuesday night in Erie, Pennsylvania, the Double-A Erie SeaWolves mauled the Binghamton Rumble Ponies 10-0 to sweep the Eastern League championship series.
The New York Mets affiliate boasts a pretty good team with some quality hitting prospects like Drew Gilbert and Luisangel Acuña, younger brother of perhaps the game’s most dangerous player at the moment. It mattered not at all as the SeaWolves put together a complete performance in all aspects while Rumble Ponies pitching melted down and the bats went cold.
Left-hander Brant Hurter got the start, and he ran his scoreless innings streak to 32 frames without a run allowed, spinning a seven inning gem for the SeaWolves. He established the tone right out of the gate, striking out Acuña and Jett Williams to open the game, and getting Gilbert to pop out to first to end the top half of the first. However the SeaWolves went 1-2-3 against Rumble Ponies’ starter Christian Scott as well.
The decisive early moments of the game occurred in the second inning. Kevin Parada led off with a single, but J.T. Schwartz grounded into a slick double play turn by Jace Jung and Gage Workman to clear the bases. Hurter issued a walk, and was fighting his control a little bit, wild pitching the runner to second, but he bounced back to freeze Rowdey Jordan for strike three to end the inning with no damage.
With one out in the bottom half, Jake Holton cranked his second home run of the series to give Erie a 1-0 lead. Ben Malgeri rifled a drive into the right field corner and raced around to third with a triple. He was fired up about it, and the SeaWolves had all the momentum going and played with an edge all night. Daniel Cabrera walked, and Eliezer Alfonzo lined a single to center field to score Malgeri and get Cabrera to third.
That was the end of the night for Scott, as the Rumble Ponies turned to Jordan Geber out of their bullpen. A Gage Workman fly out was just deep enough for Cabrera to tag and score, and it was 3-0 SeaWolves.
Hurter set the Rumble Ponies down in order, with an assist from Cabrera in left, who made a nice snag going to the ground on a Rhylan Thomas line drive. The SeaWolves went in order in the bottom half, and then in the top of the fourth, Hurter struck out the side.
Malgeri was plunked with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but that went nowhere. Hurter made it four strikeouts in a row to open the fifth and again retired the side in order.
Gage Workman got things started again for the offense with a leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth, and a wild pitch moved him to second. Trei Cruz singled through the right side, Workman burned it home, and it was 4-0 SeaWolves. Danny Serretti flew out, but Jace Jung lifted a little fly ball to right that was misplayed, moving Jung to second and Cruz to third. A Chris Meyers single got Cruz home, and a walk to Holton loaded the bases with one out. A Malgeri ground out allowed Jung to score, and it was 6-0 as the SeaWolves poured it on.
With a big lead now, Hurter just needed to stay dialed in. A one out double by Thomas was followed by a walk to Acuña, but SeaWolves manager Gabe Alvarez got no one up in the bullpen. Hurter got Williams to ground one to Jung, and he and Workman turned another slick double play to end the inning.
Gilbert singled to open the sixth, but another double play ball erased him. Hurter walked the next hitter, but got Jeremiah Jackson to ground out to end the inning.
A pop up from Jung was badly misplayed by Acuña at second to open the bottom half of the seventh. Chris Meyers struck out, but Jake Holton stepped to the dish and absolutely destroyed a hanging breaking ball to left for his second bomb of the game and third of the series. That one left the bat at 109 mph according to the broadcast, and that will perk up the ears of anyone scouting the data. Holton hasn’t been considered a prospect, is 25, plays first base, and was the DH in this one, but he also posted identical K and BB rates of 14.7 percent in 111 games for the SeaWolves this season. The bat still holds some intrigue.
It’s getting LOUD in Erie.
Jake Holton’s second home run of the night and third of the Eastern League Finals has blown it open! pic.twitter.com/ymIvMPJRzn
— Detroit Tigers Player Development (@RoadtoDetroit) September 27, 2023
The party started after that second blast. The fans were going nuts, and the SeaWolves just needed six outs to get to the champagne after Hurter’s strong outing.
Adam Wolf came out of the bullpen to handle the top of the eighth with no issue. In the bottom half, Alfonzo led off with a walk, and then Workman got a meatball over the middle and bombed it just over the wall in straightaway center field. 10-0, baby.
Lefty Andrew Magno came out to finish this one off, and he did so swiftly, racking up three quick outs, and the SeaWolves had their first Eastern League title.
Congratulations to the entire SeaWolves team, from the front office to the coaches to the players. Manager Gabe Alvarez and his staff did a great job keeping the team locked in down the stretch with a playoff berth long assured by their first half record, and then pushing all the right buttons in the postseason.