Phillies Minor League Report: Mark Leiter strong for Lakewood in losing effort

(Michael Keating/AP)

Here's a rundown on how the Phillies' minor league teams fared on Wednesday, April 9:

Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Triple A

The IronPigs split a double header with the Buffalo Bisons Wednesday in odd fashion.

The IronPigs dropped the first game of the double dip in 11 innings, 5-3, after recording eight hits. However, in the second game, the IronPigs recorded five fewer hits and did not score an earned run, but managed to defeat the Bisons, 1-0 at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown.

During the first contest, the IronPigs jumped out to a quick lead in the bottom of the first thanks to a leadoff home run from center fielder Clete Thomas. The IronPigs increased their lead in the bottom of the second after a wild pitch from Buffalo pitcher Ricky Romero allowed shortstop Reid Brignac to score from third base.

Buffalo not only answered in the top of the fourth, it took the lead thanks to three runs off pitcher Greg Smith. Lehigh Valley tied the game in the bottom half of the frame after third baseman Tyler Henson hit an RBI-single to center field. Henson went 3-for-4 during the contest.

The score did not change until the top of the 11th when the Bisons plated two runs off pitchers Shawn Camp and Kyle Simon.

In the bottom half of the inning, the IronPigs loaded the bases thanks to three walks from Buffalo pitcher Rob Rasmussen. However, the IronPigs failed to capitalize on the golden opportunity as Brignac flew out to end the game.

The IronPigs salvaged the split thanks in part to some strong pitching in the second game. Cesar Jimenez threw a one-hitter over the course of four innings and struck out five batters. Hector Neris relieved Jimenez and picked up the win after allowing only two hits during the final three frames.

The game’s lone run came during the bottom of the third when the IronPigs had men on second and third due to a walk and an error from Buffalo.

The Bisons’ mishaps continued as a passed ball by catcher Jack Murphy allowed Thomas, who walked earlier in the inning, to score from third base.

The IronPigs will continue their eight-game home stand at 7:05 p.m. Friday when they host the Rochester Red Wings. Barry Enright (0-0, 9.00 ERA) will get the start for Lehigh Valley.

Reading Fightin Phils – Double A

An explosive first inning and a strong pitching performance from Severino Gonzalez propelled the Fightin Phils to their second-straight win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 4-1, Wednesday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading.

The Fightin Phils started the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles from second baseman Carlos Alonso and third baseman Matt Tolbert that put runners on first and second. Left fielder Cam Perkins advanced both runners by laying down a sacrifice bunt.

The bunt allowed for designated hitter Kelly Dugan to plate both runners with one swing of the bat, as he hit a single to right field. Dugan crossed the plate as well later in the inning after a single to center field from center fielder Anthony Hewitt.

The Fightin Phils padded their lead in the bottom of the third after Alonso hit a bases-loaded single that plated catcher Tommy Joseph. First baseman Brock Stassi attempted to increase the Reading advantage, but was thrown out at the plate for the final out of the frame.

That turned out to be all of the runs Reading needed as Gonzalez held the Fisher Cats in check during his seven innings of work.

Gonzalez surrendered five hits and struck out four batters during his time on the mound. He had a shutout going through 5 2/3 innings, but an RBI single from New Hampshire designated hitter Jon Berti broke it up. Gonzalez’s efforts earned him his first decision of the season. Ken Giles earned his third save on the young season after recording three strikeouts in only 1 1/3 innings.

The Reading offense recorded 10 hits, all of which came off New Hampshire pitcher Deck McGuire. Alonso led the Fightin Phils from the plate as he went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Shortstop Edgar Duran went 2-for-3 and Dugan drove in two runs for Reading.

The Fightin Phils will begin a seven-game road trip at 7 p.m. Thursday when they play the Harrisburg Senators at Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg. Lefty Hoby Milner (0-0, 3.60 ERA) will take the mound for the Fightin Phils.

Clearwater Threshers – Class A-Advanced

The Threshers’ rocky start to the 2014 season continued Wednesday, as they fell to the Tampa Yankees, 5-3, at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.

The loss was the Threshers’ fourth in a row and dropped their record to 1-5 so far this season. In six games, the Threshers have scored more than three runs only once.

The Threshers’ offensive woes continued, as they were hitless through the first three innings. Clearwater finally broke through in the bottom of the fourth after a solo homer from center fielder Peter Lavin to give the team a 1-0 lead.

Although the Threshers’ bats were cold, pitcher Ethan Stewart was keeping his team in the game by keeping the Yankees off the scoreboard as well. Stewart went 4 2/3 without giving up a run, but ran into a ton of trouble with two outs in the fifth inning.

With two men on, Stewart allowed an RBI-double from Tampa shortstop Cito Culver. Tampa third baseman Eric Jagielo broke the game wide open with a three-run homer that gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead and ended Stewart’s night.

The Phillies’ Mike Adams surrendered the final Tampa run during the sixth inning after an RBI-single from Claudio Custodio.

The Threshers attempted to rally in the bottom of the ninth thanks to two hits, one of which was an RBI-triple from shortstop Anthony Phillips that plated both left fielder Justin Parr and right fielder Brian Pointer. But it proved to be too little, too late as Lavin lined out to third to end Clearwater’s surge and the game.

The Threshers recorded nine hits Wednesday, six of which came from designated hitter Art Charles (2-for-3), second baseman KC Serna and Pointer (both 2-for-4).

Clearwater will look to avoid being swept by the Yankees at 7 p.m. Thursday as they finish up the three-game set at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. Jon Prosinski (0-1, 6.75 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Threshers.

Lakewood BlueClaws – Class A

Despite another strong performance from pitcher Mark Leiter, the BlueClaws fell to the Greensboro Grasshoppers, 2-1, at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C.

The win for the Grasshoppers completed a three-game sweep of the BlueClaws.

Leiter threw seven innings Wednesday in which he gave up only two runs on four hits, but the Lakewood bats went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and recorded a mere six hits.

Greensboro recorded only four, but one of them was a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth courtesy of catcher Chad Wallach off Leiter. Despite the strong outing, Leither was dealt his first loss of the season.

The BlueClaws’ lone run came during the top of the fourth after designated hitter Dylan Cozens drove in second baseman Andrew Pullin with a double to center field. Although Cozens drove in the lone run, third baseman Zach Green (2-for-4) had the best day at the plate, as both of his hits were doubles, but he was left stranded on both occasions. The BlueClaws left seven runners on base during the contest.

After being swept by Greensboro, the BlueClaws will look to bounce back at 6:35 p.m. Thursday when they host the Hagerstown Suns in the home opener at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood Township, N.J.

Tyler Viza (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will get the start for Lakewood.

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