Will Morris earned his first victory of the season and the offense scored five, two-out runs as the Threshers raised their record to 13-5 as they completed a 3-game sweep of the Brevard County Manatees.
Twice the Manatees opened one-run leads with an infield single in the second and a double in the fifth. But the Threshers fought back to tie in the third and take the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth.
Morris followed the script that all Threshers’ starters seem to be following lately. He threw strikes, varied speeds, limited solid contact, and kept walks to a minimum. Morris threw 17 first pitch strikes to the 22 batters he faced (77.3%). He only threw 20 balls, and half came to the three batters who worked 3-ball counts. The batter who walked eventually scored the run that gave the Manatees their last, short-lived lead at 2-1.
The Manatees scored first when they opened the second with back-to-back singles. After a pop up to Carloe Tocci in shallow center, the Manatees grounded a sharp single up the middle. Scott Kingery laid out to prevent the ball from reaching the outfield, but was unable to complete a glove-flip to second to get a force out. Morris escaped further damage with a couple air outs.
Morris had little trouble over the next two innings and the Threshers forged a tie. However, with one out in the fifth, Morris surrendered a 9-pitch walk to the Manatees’ speedy center fielder, Johnny Davis. He raced home on a subsequent double, and the Manatees re-took the lead.
The Threshers came back to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth, and turned the game over to their strong and competent bull pen.
Victor Arano answered the bell with two perfect innings. He threw 28 pitches and recorded 4 strike outs. Three came in the seventh inning when he struck out the side swinging. His FB was 93-94 and he touched 95 on his last pitch, his fourth strike out.
Alexis Rivero pitched the eighth inning. He did allow a two-out single, but had little trouble with the Manatees. His FB was at 94 mph.
Miguel Nunez came in for the save. He also allowed a one-out single, but threw 15 of his 17 pitches for strikes. His FB was 95-96 mph. The last two Manatees’ batters were retired flailing at 96 mph fastballs.
The defense was solid again. Left-handed Cord Sandberg made a diving catch of a line drive into the left center field gap in the third inning. He had to reach across his body as he dove to make the catch. Threshers’ pitchers garnered 3 assists and a put out on balls hit back to the mound. Their one error came in the ninth when Herlis Rodriguez mishandled a single and allowed the batter to advance to second.
The offense was once again as opportunistic as they have shown recently. Scott Kingery grounded a double hard down the left field line for a lead off double in the third inning. He advanced to third on Cord Sandberg’s drive to deep right field, and scored on Kyle Martin’s two-out double into the left center field gap.
With two outs in the fifth, Tocci drew a walk. He raced to third on Martin’s line drive single to center. Mitch Walding lined a shift-beating, RBI single to left to score Tocci. After a pitching change, Zach Green gapped a ball to left center to plate two more runs. Malquin Canelo chased him home with a triple to the left center field wall.
The four-run fifth inning held up and the Threshers posted their 13th win.
Morris has a 4-pitch mix that includes a FastBall, CUtter, CHange up, and Curve Ball. I heard one of the announcers describe an 86 mph pitch as a SLider. Sunday, he threw 70 pitches in five innings, 50 for strikes. The stadium gun failed on 20 pitches (28.6%). Today, he averaged 5 pitches at speeds from 86 to 91 mph. I reported his FB at 89-91 mph.
Morris struck out one batter swinging at an 83 mph pitch. His other s&m came on pitches of 90, 81, 87, 90, 82, 86, and 81 mph. This was my description of Morris’ April 12th start –
“For the second consecutive night, a Threshers’ pitcher mixed his pitches and velocity well and got a lot of weak contact. Morris pitched to contact a little more this evening, but got eight called strikes and seven swinging strikes. His three strike outs came on pitches of 83 mph (swinging), 91 mph (looking), and 77 mph (swinging).
The bulk of Morris’ FB fell within 88-91 mph, although he touched 92 twice and 93 once. All four singles he allowed came on FB – three at 90 and one at 92 mph (the hardest hit of the four).”
Morris’ lines –
- April 12th – 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 83 pitches, 53 strikes, FB 88-91, t92,93 mph.
- April 24th – 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 70 pitches, 50 strikes, FB 89-91 mph.
Here’s the breakdown of his results for the two games I’ve seen.
- Pitch 4/12 4/24
- Swing 7, 13.2% 8, 16.0%
- Called 8, 15.1% 8, 16.0%
- Foul 22, 41.5% 14, 28.0%
- Other 16, 30.2% 20, 40.0%
- Strikes 53 50
- Balls 30 20
- S/B% 63.9/36.1 71.4/28.6
The box score and recap for the game is here.
Extra Innings –
- The Manatees’ SP was the Brewers #7 prospect, LHP Kodi Medeiros. The 19-year old was the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft out of high school in Hawaii. His FB was in the mid-90s.
- Martin went 2-3 off the left-handed starter.
- Green went 2-2 against right-handed relievers.
- Walding became the 8th Thresher to be HBP. Threshers have exhibited much better control (0 HB) so far.
- Canelo, Green, and Martin each had 2 hits. Green had 2 RBI.
- Martin picked up his league-leading 16th RBI.
- Walding is second with 15 RBI.
- Walding is second with 5 HR.
- Sandberg is 6th with a .424 OBP.
- Walding is first with a .589 SLG.
- Sandberg is 6th with a .327 AVG.
- Walding is first with a .977 OPS.
- Kingery is ninth with 5 SB.
- The Threshers have the top pitching staff in the FSL.
- Lowest ERA at 1.90
- Fewest hits allowed, 113
- Fewest runs allowed, 42
- Fewest ER allowed, 34
- Fewest BB , 41
- Second most strike outs, 158
- Lowest WHIP, 0.96
- Elniery Garcia (2nd), Tom Eshelman (5th), and Tyler Viza (7th) rank among the top 10 pitchers in the FSL.