SkyChiefs’ French Connection Spikes Rochester

Saturday, April 09 2005 @ 09:08 AM EDT

Contributed by: Jordan

The headline comes courtesy of Mick Doherty, who has a deft touch for these things. Three out of four Blue Jays farm teams came away with victories last night, including a Thresher thrashing and a sparkling debut by a 2004 first-round draft choice. But the drama last night came in extra innings in central New York State.

Syracuse 7 Rochester 4

Nothing sends the fans home happy like a walk-off dinger, and that’s what outfielder Anton French supplied last night to the good citizens of Syracuse. Rewarding the hardy fans who stayed till the chilly, extra-inning end, French yanked a James Abbott offering just inside the fair pole for a three-run game-winning shot in the 13th inning, giving the SkyChiefs their first win of the season.

The homer made a winner out of Box amigo Spike Lundberg, who saved the day with 3 sparkling innings of no-hit relief, issuing just one walk and striking out 2. Chad Gaudin started and was actually perfect through the first three innings. But the Red Wings broke through for 2 runs in the 4th, with help from an Aaron Hill error, effectively ending his night. Among a parade of relievers, the recently converted Jason Arnold threw one inning, striking out a batter but also allowing a home run.

Nobody’s line looks particularly good in an extra-inning game, as French and Bryant Nelson had the only two-hit nights. John-Ford Griffin blasted a solo home run, walked and struck out twice in one of those three-true-outcomes performance we’ve come to expect. Jason Alfaro had a brutal night, going 0-for-6 with 5 strikeouts.

From the Syracuse Post-Standard:

French fries Wings (Okay, that’s pretty good, too)

Matos fails test for banned substance

New Britain 5 New Hampshire 4

The Fisher Cats remain winless in their brand new ballpark, as their arch-rivals from New Britain rallied for three runs in the 8th innings to win it. Jordan DeJong wears the goat horns on this one, giving up a two-run homer to the affably named Doug Deeds to cap the three-run frame. The Cats had built a lead behind capable work by Josh Banks, who allowed 2 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings, walking no one, striking out 2 and yielding a 2-run homer. Banks’ difficulties last year arose from a surfeit of home runs, so he needs to be careful about letting his pitches catch too much of the plate. Excellent relief work was then provided by Ryan Houston, who pitched 2 perfect innings, striking out 4 of the 6 batters he faced.

Offensively, new first baseman Kevin Barker led the way with 2 doubles, a single and 3 RBIs, while CF Miguel Negron doubled, singled and scored a run in 5 trips, and catcher Erik Kratz doubled and walked twice. Carlo Cota made Jason Alfaro feel slightly better by also whiffing in every single one of his 5 plate trips.

From the New Hampshire Union Leader:

Fisher Cats fall again in 5-4 loss

Opening night learning curve at new stadium

Dunedin 9 Clearwater 2

It was 8-0 after 4 innings and the final result wasn’t much different as the D-Jays pecked the Threshers to death with 15 singles and 3 doubles. Third baseman Eric Arnold had a 5-RBI night on a double and 2 singles, while 3-hit nights were also the order of business for Ryan Roberts and Clint Johnston. Robinzon Diaz DH’ed and had 2 singles and an RBI, while David Smith singled, walked twice and scored a run. Every starter had at least one hit.

On the mound, the Jays sent out the second of Toronto’s two first-round left-handers from last June’s draft, and Zach Jackson didn’t disappoint. He fired 7 innings of 4-hit ball, allowing just 1 run on a walk and 2 strikeouts. As Bauxite jim854 reported in the minor-league game thread, Jackson was electric for 6 innings and allowed his only run as he tired in the 7th. A solid relief appearance by Justin James was encouraging after his struggles last summer, and Tracy Thorpe allowed a home run in the 9th inning.

Lugnuts 5 Wizards 2

The Blue Jays’ new Low-A affiliate went to 2-0 last night with a solid victory over visiting Fort Wayne. Curtis Thigpen cracked his first home run of the year and the first homer for the Lugnuts under their new affiliation with Toronto. His round-tripper was the Lugnuts’ only extra-base hit; Joey Wolfe, with 2 singles at DH, had the only other multi-hit game, while shortstop Ryan Klosterman singled, walked and scored twice.

On the mound, you might remember Aaron Wideman, the Mississauga teenager whom the Jays acquired from Washington in the Ty Godwin deal a little while ago. Well, Wideman had a very impressive organizational debut, pitching 5+ innings of shutout ball, allowing 3 hits and a walk, striking out 5. He was relieved by another new face, 20-year-old Taiwanese pitcher Po-Hsuan Keng, who got the win by giving up 3 hits and a run, striking out 1, in an indeterminate number of innimngs (the scoreboards aren’t giving innings pitched in their boxscores, for some annoying reason).

Want to know more? Here’s a first-hand account from new Bauxite Lugnut Fan, excerpted from the game thread:

"AJ Wideman started for the Lugnuts. He is a skinny left-handed kid with (from what I could see) three pitches, fastball, curveball and change-up. No one pitch was overly impressive. The fastball topped out at 82 last night, but was around 80 most of the night. Change up at 70 and the curve ... well, the curve needs a little bit of work, as it is flat and it hangs. However, it was good enough last night. The leadoff guy hit a single and Padres first-round draft pick Matt Bush moved him to third on a double that got stuck in the left field corner. Wideman did work out of it without giving up a run. He was relieved in the sixth by Po-Hsuan Keng (who got the win) and Matt Sopko finished it off.

"The scoreless streak lasted into the seventh tonight, as the Fort Wayne Wizards scored their first run on a base hit up the middle that was bobbled by Yuber Rodriquez for the Wizards’ first run and Lansing's first error of the year. Yuber made up for it with two very nice catches in center. He appears to have very good range. A couple of other first's came tonight with Juan Peralta picking up his first RBI of the year and Curtis Thigpen hit his first home run very high onto the left field berm scoring him and Peralta. The guys on the infield continued to look sharp. I read here that Christian Snavely was an outfielder last year, but he looks very solid at third. He must have played there at some point in his high school or college life. The outfield play was a little sloppy and there were two errors (and one that maybe should have been an error last night)."

Your Three-Star Selection:

3. Aaron Wideman, Lansing: Five-plus innings of shutout ball in the Canadian’s organizational debut.

2. Eric Arnold, Dunedin: A five-RBI performance on a 3-hit night for Dunedin’s third baseman.

1. Anton French, Syracuse: A three-run walk-off extra-inning jack cements the place of honour.