York at Southern Maryland
What more can the Blue Crabs do after winning the first half North pennant? Just keep on winning seems to be their plan. Southern Maryland is 4-2 since the turn of the month and the pitching staff’s 3.84 ERA on the season is second-best behind only Gastonia. With a starting rotation of McKenzie Mills (8-1, 3.12), Daryl Thompson (7-2, 3.79, Eddie Butler (6-2, 4.76) and league strikeout leader Mitch Lambson (5-4, 4.26, 84 strikeouts), the Blue Crabs cruised to 48 first half wins. League saves leader Mat Latos (19) finishes up what the starters leave behind. OF David Harris has surged into the league batting average lead at .346 and is in the top 10 with 46 RBI.
York is coming off a hard-fought five-game home-and-home series with Lancaster in which they swept a July 5 doubleheader but dropped three single games to the Barnstormers. The Revs managed just 24 hits in those five games and hit at a .175 clip while scoring 11 runs. But the pitching staff put up a 2.54 ERA in the series and fanned 28 batters in 39 innings. 3B Carlos Franco is doing what he does best, hitting and driving in runs. He is eighth in the league with a .316 average, tied for second with 23 home runs and nearly a runaway leader with 74 RBI. Jorge Martinez (6-4) leads the club and is third in the league with a 3.25 ERA and his 80 strikeouts are also third among all ALPB pitchers.
High Point at Gastonia
The Rockers continue to be baffled by the South Division champion Honey Hunters. Despite the Rockers having the third-most wins in the ALPB at 39, Gastonia has taken nine of the first 10 meetings from High Point in a series that will stretch to 34 games over the course of the season. The Rockers have held the lead in six of the last seven meetings but Gastonia has won five of the last six. Gastonia continues to use its running game, accumulating 154 stolen bases in the first 68 games, putting the Honey Hunters on a pace (2.31 SB/gm) that would leave them with nearly 300 thefts by the end of the season and obliterate the Atlantic League record of 265 set by Somerset in 2000. But Gastonia isn’t just doing it with speed, it leads the league with 27 saves including 14 from Jesus Balaguer. Sam Bordner has been opportunistic out of the bullpen, tying for the league lead with eight wins, all in relief.
Wild Health Genomes at Lancaster
The Barnstormers just finished a five-game set with archrival York in which Lancaster won three of five. In a close series of tight pitching, Lancaster neither scored more than four runs nor allowed more than four runs. Lancaster’s offense has been outstanding with 1B Kelly Dugan (.329, 23 HR, 66 RBI) leading the way. Combined with Andretty Codero (.305, 9, 55), the duo have the most combined RBI (121) of any set of teammates in the Atlantic League. Starter Nile Ball leads the league with a 3.11 ERA and is 3-0 in his last five starts.
The Genomes are taking July by storm, winning six of eight including four of five in the most recent five-game set with roommate Lexington. Carlos Castro drove in seven runs vs. the Legends while slugging .833 with an OPS of 1.333. Castro is now hitting .346 on the year and Jimmy Paredes is at .304 and the duo are tied for the team lead with 19 doubles. Dustin Beggs has not lost a game since May, going 4-0 with a 1.88 ERA in June though he came away with a no-decision in his last start on July 2 at Charleston.
Charleston at Staten Island
The FerryHawks carry a three-game winning streak vs. Long Island into their series with Charleston as Staten Island’s pitchers held the Ducks to just two runs over the last three games. Hector Guance limited Ducks hitters to a .100 batting average while putting up a 0.50 WHIP. Out of the bullpen, Victor Capellan saved each of the last three games for the ‘Hawks. Angel Aguilar continues to shine for Staten Island, leading the club with a .307 average, 10 home runs, 17 doubles and 33 RBI.
The Dirty Birds travel to Staten Island after losing three of four against Southern Maryland. This will be Charleston’s first meeting with Staten Island since sweeping the FerryHawks in a four-game series to start the season at Appalachian Power Park back in April. Nick Longhi has been a consistent hitter for Charleston, posting a .314 average with team-bests of nine home runs and 38 RBI. Ryan Lawlor picked up three wins out of the bullpen prior to June 1 but has not yet won as a starter. Jose Mesa, Jr. leads the club with four wins while Tyler Wilson has been nearly untouchable out of the bullpen, going 10-for-10 in save opportunities while posting a 3-1 record and 0.64 ERA.
Long Island at Lexington
Long Island will be looking to get the offense back in gear after dropping three straight contests to Staten Island and scoring just two runs along the way. Joe Iorio (6-2) was a hard-luck loser on July 7, throwing eight innings and allowing just one run while striking out seven but lost 1-0. Alejandro De Aza continues to be one of the top hitters in the Atlantic League with a .322 average and a league-best .440 on-base percentage and is complimented by Sam Travis (.312, 8 HR, team-high 54 RBI). The recent acquisition of former MLB reliever Nick Goody will help the bullpen as he has fanned 16 in his first 10 innings as a Duck and converted four of five save opportunities.
No hitter in the Atlantic League has gotten off to a better July start than Lexington’s Isaias Tejeda. In eight July games, he is hitting .333 with a league-best six homers and 16 RBI. His .967 slugging percentage and 1.396 OPS are also the best in the ALPB for July. Paired with LF Courtney Hawkins (25 HR, 65 RBI), there’s a reason Lexington is third in the league in home runs. The Legends will try to get untracked after starting July 1-8 and going 3-13 over the last 16 games.
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