Wednesday, July 16 - Augusta 3, Kannapolis 2
For the second consecutive game, Augusta rallied in the eighth inning to win by one run. The GreenJackets got a little help this time.
Two consecutive singles opened the inning for Augusta, down 2-1. With runners on the corners, Chris Lofton grounded to the hole between shortstop and third base for an RBI single to tie the game at 2. On the same play, Kannapolis shortstop Tyler Shryock threw the ball into right field attempting a force out at second base.
The trailing runner reached third on the error. A wild pitch by Kannapolis reliever Matt Abramson allowed that runner to score the go-ahead run.
The win was Augusta's second in a row after losing three in a row coming into the series. It was Kannapolis' seventh consecutive loss.
Gregorio was outstanding, allowing one run on five hits in 5.1 innings, walking two and striking out seven. He induced 10 swinging strikes and was even between ground balls and fly balls.
Gregorio had good velo and worked with excellent fastball command. The four-seamer sat 92-95 and touched 96. When he took a little off around 92, it had solid tail and sink down to his arm side from his three-quarters slot. He paired that with a consistent 94-95 up in the zone to give hitters two eye levels. This is Gregorio's usual game plan with the fastball, and it worked very well with strong command.
Gregorio pumps tons of fastballs because of the different looks with it. When he gets on top of the pitch, he's able to create very good downhill plane from a 6-foot-7 frame. Catcher Ty Ross said it looks like it's coming from 10 feet high down to your kneecaps. That's a very tough look for a hitter.
Gregorio's secondaries lagged, which has been the issue with his development. He flashed an above-average slider with different shapes. The first had hard, downward bite with solid depth. Others were slurvy with three-quarters shape and less bite. He's capable of throwing a plus slider when he has feel, but it's inconsistent. Gregorio's changeup flashed average a couple times but continues to be little more than a show-me pitch.
Brennan was basically the same as last year. He kept Augusta off balance, allowing just one hit and one run in six innings, walking three and striking out six. He induced 14 swinging strikes and eight ground balls.
Brennan had excellent fastball command to his arm side, sitting 90-93 with sink and arm-side run. It's a tough pitch to square when he has command, especially working under the hands of right-handed batters. He gets good run from a low three-quarters slot. It has the potential to backfire when his arm drags behind his body. He shows some rotation and spine tilt toward the first base line.
Brennan's secondaries also lagged. His breaking ball has shown well in the past, but the bite and depth were fringy in this look. He struggled with command of it at times. When he did throw it well, it had good two-plane break down in the zone, which Augusta batters whiffed over the top. Brennan's changeup is firm and appears show-me.
If Brennan can gain feel for his breaking ball and snap off that good two-plane bite more often, he could have the two-pitch mix to succeed as a reliever in the higher levels. It might not be what the White Sox wanted from the fourth round in 2012, but the framework is there to provide some value down the road if he puts it together.
***Kannapolis manager Pete Rose Jr. was ejected during the lineup card exchange prior to the game. He was tossed by umpire Kyle Wallace, who called an Augusta runner safe on the game-ending play at home plate Tuesday night. Rose turned to Wallace just after lineup exchanges and began talking in his face, resulting in the ejection. After returning to the dugout, Rose yelled at Wallace more before disappearing in the tunnel.
***Kannapolis third baseman Trey Michalczewski was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes. Hitting coach and acting manager Robert Sasser followed by getting tossed.
***Gregorio has recorded seven strikeouts in three of five starts for Augusta this season. He reached that many in six of 13 starts for Augusta last season.
***Ross extended his hitting streak to seven games with an RBI double in the first inning.
***Augusta failed to reach base in five of eight innings. The GreenJackets didn't get a hit between the first and eighth innings, their two scoring innings. Their only baserunner during that span was a hit batter in the fifth. Five of their seven baserunners in the game reached at least third base.
***Spanning Brennan's last start for short-season Great Falls, he has allowed one run on three hits with eight strikeouts in his past 11 innings. It was the first one-hitter of his career.
Notable Augusta lines:
Joan Gregorio: 5.1 IP, 5 H, R/ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 6 ground balls, 6 fly balls, 2 line drives, 10 swinging strikes, 92-95, t96
Ty Ross: 1-4, 2B, RBI
Chris Lofton: 1-4, RBI
Craig Massoni: 1-2, BB
Notable Kannapolis lines:
Brandon Brennan: 6 IP, H, R/ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 8 ground balls, 3 fly balls, 2 line drives, 14 swinging strikes, 90-93
T.J. Williams: 3-4, 2B, RBI
Adam Engel: 1-4, RBI
Danny Hayes: 1-3, 2B, BB