Tigers affiliates manage an organizational sweep on Tuesday

Bless You Boys

Toledo Mud Hens 6, Indianapolis Indians 5 (box)

The Hens were back home on Tuesday night, and they put together a come from behind victory for the home crowd in this one.

Jace Jung struck first, launching his second home run of the year in the bottom of the first with no one aboard. Austin Bergner got the start, but leaked three runs in the second inning. The right-hander bounced back with a clean third, and the Hens mounted a comeback in the bottom half of the inning.

With one out, Andrew Navigato bounced a single through the left side of the infield. Buddy Kennedy ripped a double to center field to score Navigato, and a Jung single later knocked in Kennedy to tie things at 3-3.

Lefty Andrew Vasquez took over as the bridge reliever in the fourth inning, but immediately hit Carter Bins to start the inning. Canaan Smith-Njigba singled Bins to third, and a Nick Gonzales ground ball brought Bins home and forced Smith-Njigba at second base. Dillon Dingler cut down Gonzales trying to steal second, which ultimately saved a run as Vasquez allowed another single before getting out of the inning.

Vasquez pitched a scoreless fifth inning, and the Hens got back to work in the batter’s box. Navigato doubled with one out, and Kennedy pulled his second homer of the year to left field. 5-4 Hens. Justyn-Henry Malloy then walked, but was cut down trying to steal second base. Jung walked as well, but Keston Hiura took a called strike three to end the inning.

Beau Brieske took over on the mound, spinning 2 13 innings of one hit ball with three strikeouts. The Hens stranded Akil Baddoo after a one out double in the sixth. In the bottom of the seventh, Navigato, having taken over at shortstop with both Ryan Kreidler and Eddys Leonard out with injuries, lead off with a walk. Kennedy’s grounder forced Navigato at second, but Malloy drew a walk, and Jung smoked a double to right field to drive in Kennedy.

That was all they’d get, but a 6-4 lead would be enough. Brenan Hanifee allowed a solo shot in the eighth, but struck out the side in the ninth for his first save of the year.

Jung: 3-3, R, 3 RBI, HR, 2B, BB

Kennedy: 2-4, 3 R, 3 RBI, HR, 2B

Bergner: 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, BB, K

Coming Up Next: It’s a 6:35 p.m. ET start set for Wednesday night.

Erie SeaWolves 2, Binghamton Rumble Ponies 0 (box)

There wasn’t a ton of offense in this one, but the SeaWolves took home the victory on Opening Day at UPMC Park. Wilkel Hernandez made his first start of the year and blanked the Ponies for four innings, though he wasn’t overpowering them much. Lefty Andrew Magno took over in the fifth, and while he allowed four baserunners in two innings, including three walks, he also struck out four.

The Hens offense was pretty quiet as well, but they finally put the first run of the game on the board in the bottom of the sixth. Trei Cruz, back at shortstop with Navigato with the Hens, singled with one out and took second on a passed ball. Hao-Yu Lee spanked a grounder back through the box to get Cruz to third, where he scored on a Blade Tidwell wild pitch.

Tim Naughton blanked the Ponies in the seventh and eighth innings. Catcher Eliezer Alfonzo mashed a solo shot to right center to lead off the bottom of the eighth, and that was all the SeaWolves needed to cruise to victory. Llover Peguero picked up the save.

Alfonzo: 2-3, R, RBI, HR

Cruz: 1-3, R, BB

Lee: 1-4, K, SB

Hernandez: 4.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, K

Coming Up Next: It’s a 1:05 p.m. ET start set for Wednesday. We’re aren’t getting the pitching matchups ahead of time, but right-hander Troy Melton would seem to be in line to get his first start of the year.

West Michigan Whitecaps 10, Quad Cities River Bandits 6 (box)

The Whitecaps built an early lead in Tuesday’s home opener at LMCU Park. The River Bandits chipped away, but just went they caught up, the Whitecaps erupted for six runs in the late innings to lock up the win.

Right-hander Colin Fields is a young arm I mentioned a few times last year. He’s not going to be found on prospect lists yet because he’s not a hard thrower with a strong college track record, but he can really spin the baseball. Mixing a cutter with two fastball types, Fields has an 80 mph slider with 2600-2700 rpms of spin and good depth, and a slow curve around 71 mph that also features a really good spin rate and gives him a pitch that doesn’t get many whiffs, but is hard to drive in the air, to steal some strikes with. It’ll be interesting to see if the Tigers can build him up over the next year or two.

Fields made his first start at the High-A level in style, striking out the first six hitters he faced. Fields did allow a solo shot in the third inning, but finished with four innings, one run on three hits with eight strikeouts and no walks allowed.

Fields was working with a lead as the Whitecaps opened the bottom of the first with a leadoff double from the speedy Seth Stephenson. A walk to Luke Gold was followed by a double off the bat of Max Anderson, the Tigers second round pick last summer. Izaac Pacheco singled in Gold, and a sac fly from Roberto Campos plated Anderson to give Fields a quick three-run lead to work with.

With the score 3-1 ‘Caps, the offense got back to work in the fourth. Danny Serretti led off with a double and scored on a Cole Turney single. That made it 4-1, but the bullpen leaked four runs over the next three frames and the Bandits led 5-4 headed into the bottom of the seventh, where their hopes were crushed.

Roberto Campos led off the frame with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. Another wild pitch got him to third after Serretti grounded out. Turney walked, and Andrew Jenkins reached on a ground ball as Campos scored. Another blown fielder’s choice by the Bandits didn’t record an out on Josh Crouch’s grounder, loading the bases for Stephenson. The leadoff man drew a walk to force in a run and send the Bandits back to their bullpen. Another grounder, this time by Luke Gold, was thrown away as the Bandits tried to turn the double play, and both Jenkins and Crouch scored to make it 8-5.

Matt Merrill took over for the Whitecaps and struggled with his control, walking three and allowing a run to make it 8-6. Merrill did pick off a runner, which helped him avoid the blow-up inning.

In the bottom of the eighth, Serretti walked with one out and Turney followed with a ground ball double to left. A wild pitch scored Serretti, and Andrew Jenkins pulled another double down the third base line to score Turney and make it 10-6.

Marco Jimenez closed it out without issue in the ninth.

Turney: 2-3, 2 R, RBI, 2B, 2 BB

Anderson: 3-4, R, RBI, 2B, BB, K

Stephenson: 2-5, R, RBI, BB, K

Jenkins: 2-5, R, 2 RBI, 2B, K

Fields: 4.0 IP, ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 8 K

Coming Up Next: It’s a 6:35 p.m. ET start on Wednesday night.

Lakeland Flying Tigers 8, Bradenton Marauders 1 (box)

The Marauders walked 12 Flying Tigers batters in this one, so it wasn’t much of a contest. The Flygers pitching staff acquitted themselves very well though, and it was a cakewalk to an Opening Day victory at Publix Field.

Right-hander Joe Miller got the start for Lakeland, and he had a nice outing. The 24-year-old was the Tigers 11th rounder back in 2022, and made a pretty nice showing in his full season debut last year, though he only threw 68 23 innings at Low-A. In this one Miller punched out six, allowing just a hit and a walk, as he blanked the Marauders for four innings.

The Flying Tigers scored two in the bottom of the second. It was just a parade of walks, four of them issued in total, though Brett Callahan and David Smith pulled off a double steal of home and second base, respectively.

Max Clark led off the third with a single to center field and was promptly wild pitched to second and then third. Josue Briceño walked, and then another wild pitch scored Clark and got the Flying Tigers catcher to second base. Clayton Campbell struck out, but Callahan walked in an AB featuring another wild pitch that got Briceño to third. A Cristian Santana fly ball allowed Briceño to tag and score, and it was 4-0 Flying Tigers.

In the fifth and sixth, we saw pretty good stuff from Tigers’ relief prospect RHP Eiker Huizi, who dialed up 96-98 mph heat through two perfect frames, striking out three.

The rich pageantry of developmental baseball had more in store for us in the bottom of the sixth. A fifth Marauders pitcher, Luigi Hernandez, had major control issues and Santana walked to lead off the inning. Jim Jarvis reached on an infield error. David Smith drew a walk, and then a Samuel Gil ground ball back to the pitcher saw Santana forced at home plate. However, Marauders catcher Garret Forrester threw the ball away trying to get Gil, and Jarvis and Smith scored. 6-0 Flying Tigers.

Luke Stofel allowed a run on a single, a walk, a Santana error at third, and a ground out. That was all Bradenton would manage in this one.

In the bottom of the seventh, after Clark grounded out, Briceño scorched a 107.5 mph line drive single to right field. The Tigers young catching prospect may prove a first baseman in the end, but hoo boy does the bat look good at this point. His plate discipline is well beyond this level already, and he is hitting the crap out of the baseball with regularity once again this season. But I digress…

…Clayton Campbell drew a walk, but Callahan struck out for the second out of the inning. Santana then redeemed the error with a smoked (103.6 mph) double to left to cash in both chips and make it 8-1, where it ended.

Briceño: 2-4, 2 R, BB

Santana: 1-2, 3 RBI, 2B, BB

Miller: 4.0 IP, 0 R, H, BB, 6 K

Coming Up Next: They’ll get back into action Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. ET.

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