Chihuahuas 4, Reno Aces 3
Key Statistics: CF Daniel Johnson, 3-for-5, R, HR (4), RBI; SS Ray-Patrick Didder, 2-for-4, R, 2B; LF Taylor Kohlwey. 1-for-3, BB, SB (12), BB, 2 RBI; LHP Jay Groome, 5.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K; LHP Jared Koenig (W, 5-4) 2 IP, H, 2 K
Prospect Watch: A two-out, two-strike homer from Daniel Johnson gave El Paso a walk-off win over Reno. For Johnson, it was Johnson’s fourth home run in 15 games since joining El Paso and 17th overall of the year. The solo blast left Johnson’s bat at nearly 109 mph and traveled 412 feet. The 28-year-old, who has a career-best 25 stolen bases, is hitting .315/.431/.611 in his first PCL experience. … Ray-Patrick Didder continued his torrid month with two more hits, including a double. The versatile but typically light-hitting utility man is hitting .333/.455/.640 in September, and in 40 games with the Chihuahuas, he has a .989 OPS. Before his stint in the Sun City, Didder never posted an OPS higher than .768, which came way back in 2016 while he was in Single-A with the Braves organization. … Jay Groome has had a rough season overall, but a couple of things went his way Friday. He pitched well, working into the sixth inning for El Paso. He allowed just two runs on two hits, walking four and striking out seven. In the process, Groome broke the franchise record for strikeouts in a season when he punched out his 125th batter of the season. The big lefty now has 130 punchouts this season and will have a few more chances to extend his franchise record. The previous record-holder is current Padres starter Pedro Avila, who struck out 124 batters last season. Groome has had a rough season overall, but he has typically shown good stuff, but his command has been inconsistent overall. … Ji-Man Choi returned to the lineup two nights after fouling a ball off his foot. He went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Midland RockHounds 9, Missions 5
Key Statistics: CF Jakob Marsee, 2-for-5, 2 R; 3B Marcos Castañon, 2-for-5, R, HR (4), 2B, 4 RBI; SS Connor Hollis, 2-for-2, BB, RBI, SB (11); RHP Ryan Bergert, 5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, BB, 4 K; RHP Bobby Milacki (L, 5-4) 2.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, BB, 2 K
Prospect Watch: The Missions jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but the RockHounds came back with a vengeance, scoring the final nine runs to win on Friday. … Center fielder Jakob Marsee had a pair of hits and scored two runs. After posting a .838 OPS in 113 games with the TinCaps, the former Central Michigan star has a .825 OPS in 15 games with the Missions despite seeing a sharp rise in his K-rate. After punching out in 14.5% of his plate appearances with the TinCaps, that number has risen to 23%. Despite that increase, Marsee has shown good power and has a healthy 15% walk rate. … Marcos Castañon was the offensive star for the Missions, as the third baseman doubled, connected on his fourth Double-A homer, and drove in four runs in the loss. Castañon, 24, hit just one homer in his first 142 plate appearances with the Missions, but he’s connected on two in the last week. In 45 games with the Missions, the Rialto, California native has put up league-average offensive numbers while hitting in the middle of the batting order. … After pitching a gem last time, Ryan Bergert proved he is human this time. The former West Virginia starter allowed five runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out four. After Friday’s outing, Bergert had not allowed an earned run in his 17.2 innings. Overall, Bergert has a 2.86 ERA for the Missions this year.
Roster Move: The Missions had an open roster spot after Ethan Salas was placed on the injured list earlier in the week, and Homer Bush Jr. was promoted from Lake Elsinore to take his place. With the Storm’s season ending on Sunday, Bush Jr. will get to play an extra week’s worth of games, plus at least two playoff games. This year’s fourth-round pick was hitting .247/.369/.341 in 24 games with the Storm.
TinCaps 7, Dayton Dragons 1
Key Statistics: CF Lucas Dunn, 2-for-3, 2 R, BB, SB (19); 3B Carlos Luis, 1-for-5, R, HR (7), 2 RBI; 1B Griffin Doersching, 2-for-3, 2 BB, RBI; C Anthony Vilar, 2-for-4, R; SS Kervin Pichardo, 2-for-4, R, RBI; RHP Dylan Lesko, 4 IP, 2 H, ER, 6 BB, 5 K; RHP Ethan Routzahn (W, 3-2) 2 IP, 2 K
Prospect Watch: The TinCaps cruised to a win over Dayton Friday night to maintain a slim, half-game lead over West Michigan going into the final weekend of the regular season. … The ever-versatile Lucas Dunn had a pair of hits, drew a walk, and stole his 19th base of the season in the Fort Wayne victory. Dunn, 24, has seen action in all three outfield spots this season, in addition to time at second and third. After struggling in August, Dunn has a .433 on-base percentage in September. … Catcher Anthony Vilar had his second multi-hit game this month with a pair of singles against Dayton. The former Miami infielder got a torrid start in April with the Storm but hasn’t flashed the same offensive output since. Buoyed by a 24% walk-rate with the Storm, Vilar posted a wRC+ of 124. With the TinCaps, Vilar’s walk rate has dropped to 10%, and his offensive production has been 14 percent below league average. … Griffin Doersching had a pair of hits and drew two walks as he continued to hit a little closer to home. The Wisconsin native posted a .770 OPS in 93 games with the Storm, but in 12 games with the TinCaps, that number has jumped to .887. Doersching has homered three times in 49 plate appearances with Fort Wayne. … Righty Dylan Lesko has generally struggled on the road this season. Unfortunately, this Friday was no exception. However, unlike his previous road starts, he could limit the damage on the scoreboard. In four innings, Lesko walked six batters. However, he allowed just one run on two hits, striking out five. He threw 73 pitches, just 37 for strikes. Unless the TinCaps make the playoffs and advance to the championship series, Lesko has likely thrown his final pitch of the 2023 regular season. While the overall numbers aren’t sparkling by any means, his stuff has looked elite at times, and next year, he will be further removed from Tommy John surgery. Lesko turned 20 on Thursday.
Storm 7, Inland Empire 66ers 3
Key Statistics: 1B Jay Beshears, 3-for-5, R, 2B; C Jacob Campbell, 3-for-5, R, 2 2B, 3 RBI; LF Charlis Aquino, 2-for-4, R, BB, RBI, SB (11); 2B Wyatt Hoffman, 3-for-4, R, 2 RBI, SB (20); RHP Braden Nett, 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K; RHP Eric Yost (W, 1-1) 1.2 IP, H, K; LHP Javier Chacon, 2 IP, H, 4 K
Prospect Watch: A night after seeing their playoff hopes thwarted, the Storm bounced back to beat the 66ers in San Bernardino. … Jay Beshears had the first three-hit game of his professional career with a double and two singles to extend his hitting streak to six games. The former Duke and Northwestern infielder hasn’t hit much in his time in the Cal League but is finishing the season strong. In 27 games with the Storm, Beshears is hitting .208/.269/.271. … Catcher Jacob Campbell was activated from the development list before the game and celebrated with the best offensive game of his career. Campbell had three hits, including a pair of doubles and three RBI. The former University of Illinois product signed with the Padres last season as an undrafted free agent. Campbell has a .709 OPS in 20 games this season between the ACL squad and the Padres. … Wyatt Hoffman had three hits, drove in a pair of runs, and stole his 20th base of the season in the Storm win. The infielder finished just one off from the career-high four he had last season in the Storm’s first-ever no-hitter. Hoffman provides value with his glove and speed but hasn’t hit much in his pro career. His .493 OPS is the second-lowest in the Cal League this season (minimum 180 plate appearances). … Righty Braden Nett made the start and showed flashes but struggled with control. Nett pitched 4.1 innings, showing an upper-90s fastball and an excellent change-up. Overall, Nett allowed three runs on five hits, walking three and striking out four before leaving. … Righty Eric Yost took over for Nett and pitched 1.2 scoreless innings to earn his first professional win. He allowed a hit and notched a strikeout. Yost was drafted in July in the 17th round out of Northeastern. In seven games with the Storm, Yost has an 8.18 ERA.