KC Royals Minors Recap: Zane Evans Powers Naturals to Victory


Omaha came back to beat El Paso, 9-4. The Storm Chasers collected 13 hits, while the Chihuahuas committed five errors.

The Storm Chasers retook the lead in the top of the eighth as they sent eight men to the plate. It all started with a leadoff walk. The inning had everything: three singles and a double, a steal of home, two steals of second base, an RBI ground out, and an intentional walk.

Omaha leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored. Dusty Coleman went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Though he did not start, Cheslor Cuthbert went 2-for-2 with a double, a walk, and two runs scored.

Clayton Mortensen earned the win in relief, as he allowed a hit and a walk over two scoreless innings. Plus he stranded both inherited runners in the sixth. Michael Mariot earned the save, retiring all four batters he faced.

Brandon Finnegan got the start and allowed two runs on five hits and two walks over 3.1 innings. He struck out six.

*On a negative note for Omaha, their first four batters of the game went down on strikeouts by El Paso starter Chris Smith.

NW Arkansas won their series finale in Corpus Christi, 3-1.

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It got interesting in the bottom of the ninth, as

Malcom Culver

allowed a single and a walk to start the inning. A wild pitch put the tying run into scoring position. Culver then escaped the jam to earn his fourth save.

The Naturals offense was led by catcher Zane Evans, who tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fifth on an RBI double. He gave the Naturals the lead in the top of the ninth on a two-run home run (his first in Double-A). Jorge Bonifacio (two batters before Evans) went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.

Alex Liddi, who played second base, went 2-for-4.

Luke Farrell got the start for the Naturals and allowed an unearned run on five hits and a walk over five innings. He struck out three in the no decision. After Ali Williams walked three in the sixth (just nine of his 22 pitches were strikes), Daniel Stumpf cleaned up the mess to earn the victory. He allowed a hit and a walk over 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.

*Manager Vance Wilson was ejected following a Hooks stolen base in the third.

Wilmington won their rain shortened series opener against Frederick, 7-5 to take a three game lead over the Keys in the Northern Division of the Carolina League. The game was called after almost an hour rain delay after one out in the top of the seventh.

The Blue Rocks once again won in comeback fashion, as the Keys took a 5-0 lead in the top of the first. Starter Eric Skoglund allowed all five runs, four coming on a grand slam.

Skoglund settled down from there, as he allowed just two hits over the next five innings to earn the win.

The Blue Rocks got on the scoreboard in the 3rd inning on a ground out. They scored another run in the fourth on a Frank Schwindel double (the runner reached via a wild pitch on a strikeout). In the 5th inning, Schwindel doubled in two more runs to chase the Keys starter. The new pitcher (Austin Urban) allowed a two-run home run to Dexter Kjerstad (the first batter he faced) to give the Blue Rocks their first lead. After hitting the next batter (Jack Lopez), Urban was ejected (and then Lopez was picked off).

Lexington held on for the 3-2 victory in 13 innings to open the series in Augusta.

There was zero scoring after the 3rd inning until the Legends took the lead in the top of the 13th inning on a balk. In the bottom of the 12th, Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado made a good throw to cutoff man Humberto Arteaga to cut down the winning run at the plate to end the inning.

After Foster Griffin struggled through 1.2 innings (3H, 2R, 2BB,K) and left with the bases loaded, the Legends bullpen was solid. Matt Strahm escaped the bases loaded jam in the 2nd inning and threw three scoreless innings of relief while striking out six (a hit and two walks). Evan Beal then threw 3.1 scoreless innings of relief (two hits, a walk, and three strikeouts). Emilio Ogando earned the win, as he threw 4.2 scoreless innings (two hits, two walks, and four strikeouts).

The Legends collected 13 hits, with five players having multi-hit games.

*In roster news, catcher Chad Johnson and outfielder Brandon Downes were activated from the DL. Johnson entered on defense in the bottom of the ninth and went 1-for-2. Downes started in centerfield and went 2-for-6 with two doubles and an RBI. Catcher Luis Villegas was sent to Burlington and Kyle Pollock was sent to the AZL Royals (neither team starts play until the end of the month).

Next: Omar Infante Will Remain in Lineup