The Long and Winding Road (to the Majors)

Sunday, April 13 2008 @ 07:32 AM EDT

Contributed by: Thomas

There were three strong starts turned in on the farm last night. One was turned by a former first round pick, another by a man with big league experience and a third by a pitcher whose stock is rising after placing 27th on Top 30 list at the end of last season. Unfortunately, a former starter trying to work his way back to the majors did not fare nearly so well in High-A. In the end it was an exciting night in the minors, with a pair of two-run victories, a one-run victory and a one-run defeat. New Hampshire continues to have problems with the Connecticut Defenders and fine performances by Scott Campbell and Ricky Romero werenít enough to give them a victory. Campbell and Romero both missed out one of the three stars, as there were several outstanding outings in the organization last night.

Syracuse 2 @ Rochester 0 - Boxscore

Recent addition to the Toronto organization Bill Murphy headlined a fine outing by the Syracuse pitching staff. Murphy started and went six strong against Rochester, allowing only one hit and striking out four. Murphyís control wasnít the sharpest as he walked four on the afternoon. First baseman Brian Buscher got the only hit off the southpaw with a first inning single. Buscher also managed the only other hit for Rochester in the game with a ninth inning single and worked one of the four walks off Murphy. All of those bases on balls came in the first three innings as Murphy sent down the last ten batters he faced. He was relieved by fellow southpaw Mike Gosling, who struck out two and walked one over two hitless innings. Shawn Camp was the final pitcher of the afternoon for Syracuse and he got his second save of the season.

Syracuse only managed six hits against Rochester and. Curtis Thigpen was the only SkyChief with a multi-hit game. Thigpen also managed the only extra-base hit in the whole game with a double. Wayne Lydon and Hector Luna both had nice afternoons with a single, a walk and a stolen base each. It didnít go as well for Chip Cannon, who had three strikeouts during an 0-4 afternoon. Sergio Santos made his third error as he tries to learn third base, but he contributed with the bat with a two-out single in the fourth to drive in Luna, who had just stolen second, with Syracuseís first run. Syracuseís second run also came with two out, as pinch-hitter Robinzon Diaz drove home Thigpen in the eighth.

Connecticut 4 @ New Hampshire 3 - Boxscore

Saturday afternoon saw a real seesaw battle between the Connecticut Defender and the host New Hampshire Fisher Cats. For the Fisher Cats this was the seventh game of the season against the Defenders in a season thatís only nine games old. Ricky Romero started for New Hampshire and went eight strong innings. Romero gave up two runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out five Defenders and outpitched his counterpart, Joseph Martinez, who gave up six hits and two runs over five innings.

Connecticut scored in the fifth and sixth innings and New Hampshire got the run back in the bottom of the inning on both occasions, taking advantage of Connecticut miscues. In the bottom of the fifth Ryan Patterson doubled and advanced to third on a wild throw by the outfielder. He scored on an Anthony Hatch single. In the sixth Scott Campbell singled, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Kyle Phillips sacrifice fly.

In the bottom of the eighth the Fisher Cats scored a third run, as Scott Campbell homered off Jason Waddell, who up to that point had been solid in relief of Martinez. Campbellís homer put Romero in line for the win and the Fisher Cats looked to add to it when Jacob Butler followed that with a double. However, Phillips, Brian Jeroloman and Erik Kratz couldnít cash him in and that turned out to be a costly failure. On the offensive side, Campbell went 3-4 on the afternoon and Hatch and Aaron Matthews each added two hits.

Michael MacDonald began the ninth inning, charged with protecting a one-run lead. He faced two batters, giving up a single to Travis Denker and retiring Travis Ishikawa on a fly out. Daryl Harang came in to face Adam Witter, but allowed a base on balls to Witter, who was immediately pulled for a pinch-runner. The cat-and-mouse game continued between the two managers, as Seth Overbey replaced Harang and Connecticut countered by going to a pinch-hitter. New Hampshire won that battle, as Carlos Sosa was struck out by Overbey, but they lost the war when Simon Klink doubled home both runners to give Connecticut a 4-3 lead. Hatchís single in the bottom of the ninth gave brief hope to the Fisher Cats, but Ryan Klosterman hit into a double play and that was the ballgame.

Dunedin 5 @ Fort Myers 4 - Boxscore

Unfortunately, last night illustrated that Gustavo Chacinís trip back to the majors is going to be a long one. Chacin started for Dunedin and gave up nine hits and four runs over 4.2 innings, with only one strikeout. Armando Benitez faced one batter and gave up a hit, but then had to leave the game due to a leg injury. Relief came after Benitez though, as Connor Falkenbach came in and pitched 2.1 innings and only gave up one hit. Edward Rodriguez, who still hasnít given up a run this year in four relief outings pitched a scoreless eighth for the win. Zach Dials, who also hasnít given up a run in 2008 in four relief appearances pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the year. Dials is doing one better than Rodriguez though, as he allowed his first hit of the year to Edward Orvalle.

Dunedin was outhit by Fort Myers 12-9, but they managed to make the most of many of their opportunities. Dunedinís nine hits came courtesy of four players, as Chris Emanuele had three and Travis Snider, Brian Dopirak and JP Arencibia each had two. Those four players each had one of Dunedinís four RBIs on the night and Dopirak drew the teamís only walk. Snider and Dopirak each hit doubles and Emanuele hit a triple. Emanuele also threw a runner out at home, but Cory Patton was the defensive star of the outfield with two assists, including a runner at home. Patton threw out his runner to end the second and Emanuele did it to end the third.

Lansing 3 @ Cedar Rapids 1 - Boxscore

This game was scoreless through six as a pitching duel developed by Brad Mills and Michael Anton. Eight of the twelve half-innings were 1-2-3 innings. Lansing managed just a Justin Jackson single and two walks off Anton, while Cedar Rapids reversed that, with two singles and a walk off Mills. Mills had eight strikeouts to Antonís six. The seventh didnít go as smoothly for Anton as he retired the first batter and then gave up back-to-back singles to Darin Mastroianni and Jonathan Jaspe and that ended his night. A John Tolisano single drove home Mastroianni for the only run scored off a starter during the game. Lansing would go on to load the bases with two out, but Michael McDade grounded out to end the inning.

Ross Buckwalter pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Mills and the Lugnuts added two more runs in the top of the eighth on a 2-run single by Jaspe that scored Jackson and Kevin Ahrens. Cody Crowell came in to pitch the ninth and gave up a run. Cedar Rapids managed to get the tying run to the plate, but Crowell retired the last two batters of the inning to end the game and collect his first save of the year. The Lugnuts only picked up six hits in the game and Jaspe was the only player to have more than one. Kevin Ahrens, who had been off to a good start, was held hitless, but managed to score a run and steal his third bag of the year. Joel Collins went hitless in his first start of the year.

Three Stars

3rd Star Ė Bill Murphy, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 K

2nd Star Ė Chris Emanuele, 3-5, 2 R, 3B, RBI, 5 TB, outfield assist at home

1st Star Ė Brad Mills, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K