Before many west coasters had even reached work on Wednesday morning, Phil Bickford had already struck out the side with 12 straight fastballs in the first inning. He ended the late morning game in Augusta with eight punchouts, and a ridiculous total of 18 swinging strikes. Reaching the 80-pitch mark for the first time this year, Bickford gave up three earned runs on five hits and two walks as the GreenJackets won 9-5 behind two home runs from Dylan Davis and another from Dillon Dobson.
Bickford's 18 swing-throughs brought awe to Augusta Chronicle reporter David Lee, who said, "Most swinging strikes I've ever seen here." Two weeks ago in his opening start, against the same Rome Braves he faced Wednesday, Bickford struck out 10 in 4.2 innings with a total of 15 swing-throughs.
Augusta manager Nestor Rojas explained Phil Bickford's FB appears to batters as rising. Sneaky life that's difficult to pick up.— David Lee (@David11Lee) April 20, 2016
Well, that'll explain it.
The heart of the lineup, Dobson and Davis, let loose in the series finale, with Dobson clubbing his South Atlantic League-leading fifth dinger of the year and Davis powering up for his second and third. Dobson's .745 slugging mark still trails Andy Ibanez of Hickory, who has managed nine doubles already in 13 games. The GreenJackets also got two hits out of Jalen Miller and Jean Angomas, whose base knocks were a double and a triple.
— Jason Forjet's 27-inning scoreless streak, which dated back to last season's California League playoffs, came to a screeching halt in Lake Elsinore when the Storm broke out for four runs in the second. The eventually tagged Forjet for six earned, and posted 17 by game's end.
— Ricky Oropesa's fifth home run of the season was a walk-off for the Flying Squirrels in the 11th inning. Check the bat flip.
— Adalberto Mejia is off to a spectacular start through his first three outings. After going six strong with no walks and seven strikeouts on Wednesday, he owns a WHIP of 0.894, an ERA of 2.30, and a K/BB ratio of 4.75.
— The River Cats went back to their losing way, having now lost 11 of their first 14 games. One ray of light was Jarrett Parker hitting his first home run of the season, though he struck out twice in four at-bats, which still keeps him at an even 50% mark this year (23 K in 46 AB).
TOP-30 PROSPECT ROUNDUP
- Christian Arroyo: 0-for-4, BB
- Tyler Beede: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
- Phil Bickford: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
- Lucius Fox: 0-for-3, R, BB, SO, SB
- Chris Shaw: 1-for-3, R, RBI, BB
- Sam Coonrod: DNP
- Mac Williamson: DNP
- Aramis Garcia: 1-for-4, SO
- Andrew Suarez: DNP
- Adalberto Mejia: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
- Clayton Blackburn: DNP
- Jalen Miller: 2-for-3, R, 2 RBI
- Ray Black: DNP
- Chase Johnson: DNP
- Jordan Johnson: DNP
- Steven Okert: DNP
- Kyle Crick: DNP
- Jarrett Parker: 1-for-4, HR, RBI, 2 SO
- Hunter Cole: DNP
- Austin Slater: 0-for-4, BB
- Joan Gregorio: DNP
- Michael Santos: DNP
- Ty Blach: DNP
- Mac Marshall: DNP
- Ronnie Jebavy: 1-for-2, 2 R, 3B, BB, SO, CS
- Derek Law: DNP
- Chris Stratton: DNP
- Ian Gardeck: DNP
- Jake Smith: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
- Dylan Davis: 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SO