Norfolk Tides defeat Gwinnett in Thursday matinee, 5-2, make it three of four this week
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Norfolk Tides defeat Gwinnett in Thursday matinee, 5-2, make it three of four this week

Norfolk TidesThe Norfolk Tides (38-16) defeated the Gwinnett Stripers (23-31), 5-2, on Thursday afternoon at Harbor Park, making it three out of four so far this week for the Tides.

A slight delay to today’s action had no impact on Ryan Watson’s ability to shut out the Stripers in the opening frame and he was supported by Jordan Westburg hitting out of the leadoff spot as he torched a ball off the batter’s eye in center, giving the Tides, the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, the early lead.

Gwinnett, the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, would load the bases with three consecutive batters reaching base to kick off the top of the third. Watson was able to retire a batter on strikes with the sacks full, but Forrest Wall dropped a ball into left field to drive in a run, tying the game at one apiece. Two innings later, Joe Hudson smashed the first pitch he saw over the wall in left, giving the Stripers a 2-1 lead.

Following a Shayne Fontana one-out walk in the sixth, Westburg checked in with his second hit of the game, a double to right-center. The knock set the table for Joseph Rosa who tied the game at two with a sac fly to center field. Josh Lester put the Tides back in front with a double of his own that bounced off the base off the wall in right-center to score Westburg, and the Tides led 3-2 after six.

The Tides found themselves in a first and third situation in the eighth as they looked to add a couple of insurance runs. Mark Kolozsvary occupied third and was successful on a steal of home as he broke for the plate with Fontana taking off for second on the pitch. Rosa drove in Fontana with a single to center to put Norfolk’s fifth run of the game on the board.

A bullpen combination of Eduard Bazardo and Nick Vespi closed out the final four innings of the ballgame, blanking the Stripers over those frames and securing the Tides 5-2 win.

Game Notes

With his leadoff blast, Jordan Westburg now has seven first inning home runs on the year which leads all of Triple-A baseball…it is also the most home runs by a single player in any inning at the Triple-A level…he matches teammate Josh Lester, who last season ranked second in the International League with seven opening frame bombs as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens…as a team, the Tides have sent 17 balls to the seats in the first inning this season.

The Tides are now 2-1 when Ryan Watson pitches at least five innings…in Watson’s fifth start of the year, he recorded a season-high seven strikeouts…he only went five or more innings with seven or more strikeouts three times last year (all with Double-A Bowie) and it is the first time he has done so this season.

Earning his third win of the year in relief this afternoon was Eduard Bazardo…over his last 12 appearances (since April 16), he is posting a 1.08 ERA over 16.2 innings with a 0.78 WHIP and 17 strikeouts.

Next Up

Norfolk is back in action tomorrow night against Gwinnett with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. The Tides have yet to announce a starter and RHP Allan Winans (3-3, 3.13) is scheduled to make the start for the Stripers.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, youtube.com/chrisgrahamAFP.