EL PASO – After the first five batters, the Chihuahuas were down 4-0 as starter Thomas Eshelman gave up a pair of two-run home runs.
But it’s the Pacific Coast League, its Southwest University Park, and the night was young. El Paso came back for a 7-6 win over Round Rock and move within one game of league-leading Oklahoma City.
Taylor Kohlwey, now leading the PCL in batting average at .333, hit a two-out single to plate a pair of runs to cut Round Rock’s lead by 6-4 in the fourth inning. In the sixth, he literally sacrificed his butt as a pitch hit him in the cheek to send the smiling Kohlwey trotting to first base to drive in another run. A pair of sacrifice flies by Brent Rooker and Eguy Rosario in the eighth put the Chihuahuas on top.
With the great story of the promotion of Matt Batten to the major leagues, Kohlwey now stands out as the other late-round pick whose production could get him a shot at the highest level. The 21st-round pick in 2016 put up strong numbers in 2019 and 2021, but this season he has his highest walk rate at 13.6% and has cut down his strikeouts to 13.6% after a 21.9% mark last year.
He was in center field tonight but fits better at both corners or first base.
After Eshelman gave up six runs in four innings, relievers Aaron Northcraft, Jose Castillo, Evan Miller, and Grant Gavin held the opposition to two hits, walked none, and didn’t give up a run.
Castillo, 26, in particular, has been dominant for El Paso this year. He has not allowed a run in his last 11 outings or 21 of 23 appearances for the Chihuahuas this season and has a 0.79 ERA. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Venezuelan was sitting in the mid-90s, and his slider had a decent bite. He came to the Padres in 2014 as part of the Will Myers trade.
Notes: Brett Sullivan, 28, got his second start at third base on Thursday and was 2-4 with a triple. He hadn’t played there since 2015 in the Tampa Bay Rays organization but has now seen time at third along with catcher, designated hitter, and left field. He signed with the Brewers after seven years in the Rays system and then was included in the Victor Caratini trade with the Padres and outfielder/infielder Korry Howell, who is in San Antonio.
The left-handed hitting Sullivan is sixth in the league in batting average at .311 and has a .360 on-base percentage to go along with 27 extra-base hits in 60 games.
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