AFL Recap: Five Pirates Help Peoria to Victory

Peoria battled to a 15-15 tie yesterday. They were at home on Tuesday afternoon, coming into the day with a 7-8 record with 14 games to go on the season. Their opponent was the Surprise Saguaros, who owned a 12-4 record. Roansy Contreras was on the mound for his third start of the fall. The Pittsburgh Pirates also had all three of their hitters in the lineup, with Ji-hwan Bae in center field, Nick Gonzales at second base, and Canaan Smith-Njigba in left field. Michael Burrows replaced Contreras in relief. Here’s a recap of their day.

Bae batted lead-off and grounded out in his first at-bat. He hit a sacrifice fly in the third, which was dropped, allowing him to reach base. He followed with his sixth stolen base and a run scored. Bae grounded into a double play in the fourth, then he grounded out again to end the sixth inning. He singled in the eighth inning and scored a run. Bae finished 1-for-4, with two runs, a stolen base and an RBI. He’s hitting .315 with an .872 OPS.

Gonzales batted second and singled on a ground ball into left field in the first inning. He walked in the third inning, stole his third base and scored a run. He grounded out to third base in the fourth inning. Gonzales homered to start the seventh inning, his first homer of the fall. He hit into a double play in the eighth. He finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a walk, an RBI and two stolen bases. He’s hitting .345 with a .946 OPS.

Smith-Njigba batted eighth and led off the third inning with his third double of the fall. He followed with his fourth stolen base. Smith-Njigba doubled again in the fourth inning, then doubled again in the sixth. He struck out swinging to end the seventh inning, then struck out on nine pitches in the eighth inning. He went 3-for-5 with three doubles and a run scored. He’s hitting .263 with an .811 OPS.

Contreras had a quick first inning, getting through the frame on 12 pitches, with seven going for strikes. He got two ground outs to start the inning, then picked up a strikeout. The second inning was also a quick one, breezing through the frame on a ground out and two strikeouts. The third inning had the exact same results, with a ground out followed by two strikeouts. He got through the first three innings on 37 pitches, 25 for strikes, which ended his day. Three perfect frames on five strikeouts. He gave up three runs over three innings in his first two starts combined.

Michael Burrows took over in the fourth and gave up a double to the lead-off hitter. The next batter singled to put runners on the corners. He got a ground out that scored a run, followed by a double play to limit the damage and get out of the inning. He threw just ten pitches in the inning, eight for strikes. Burrows walked the lead-off hitter in the fifth, then recorded three straight outs on 12 pitches. In the sixth, he retired the side in order on eight pitches, with two fly balls and a ground out. Burrows had a quick fourth inning of work as well, ending it on eight pitches with a strikeout, pop out and line out. That was the end of his day, finishing with four innings, two hits, one run, one walk and one strikeout. He threw 46 pitches, with 29 going for strikes.

Peoria won 10-5 to give them an 8-8 record with 13 games left in the season.

Here’s the boxscore

Peoria is on the road tomorrow to take on the Glendale Desert Dogs, with a 3:35 PM EDT start time.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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