Wieters catching on quickly

Pinch-hit grand slam highlights big week at Double-A Bowie

Orioles Minor league notebook

July 28, 2008|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun reporter

Matt Wieters keeps writing unbelievable baseball stories with his bat down on the Double-A Bowie farm.

Thursday afternoon, the 6-foot-5 catcher walked to home plate as a pinch hitter with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning and the Baysox trailing Harrisburg 8-3.

Wieters hit the first pitch high over the right-field wall for a grand slam at Prince George's Stadium, bringing the tying run, Lou Montanez, to the plate. Montanez has been the hottest hitter in the Eastern League the past few weeks, taking over the home run lead with 22, RBI lead with 77 and runs scored lead with 75 while being tied for fifth in batting average at .315 through Saturday.

Montanez grounded out to end the drama.

Wieters said of his slam: "I went out there and got a pitch to hit and put a good swing on it. I wish we could have been a little bit closer, but it felt pretty good."

He called pinch hitting tough. "You have to watch the game and stay in the game," he said. "I enjoyed watching the game today, and [manager] Brad [Komminsk] told me to get out there. He told me if I got a good pitch, to swing at the first pitch."

Wieters said pinch hitting was an unusual situation for him.

"I've had a few this year," he said. "Normally when I get a day off, it's a complete day off."

The next night, the scene shifted to Erie, Pa., home of the SeaWolves, and Wieters hit a three-run homer in a 7-6 loss. That gave him nine RBIs in three games, and he was batting .345 through Friday.

Wieters' heroics came to an end Saturday night as he went 0-for-3 in a 6-5 loss to Erie. The switch-hitting catcher from Georgia Tech, 22, had his batting average drop to .333.

In 29 games with the Baysox, Wieters has five home runs, 20 RBIs and six doubles.

Triple-A Norfolk

It has been a long season for the Tides, who have been hurt by all the shuffling of players between the Orioles and Norfolk.

However, there is finally some good news for the team that was 14 games below .500 through yesterday.

The Tides were leading the International League in team batting average at .273 through 107 games, and they topped the league in runs scored in July with 129 through Saturday, an average of 6.1.

Single-A Frederick

When Keys right-hander Brandon Erbe (McDonogh) had two straight marvelous starts in mid-June, throwing a seven-inning no-hitter and coming right back with a one-hitter and striking out 12 batters in seven innings, the pitcher, 20, was in the national spotlight.

Since then, the going has been tough for Erbe, who had a so-so effort Saturday night in a five-inning, 7-3 victory over Potomac.

Erbe raised his record to 8-9, allowing three runs on two hits, striking out six and walking five. He is 2-4 since the two mid-June gems. However, he has struck out 114 batters in 114 2/3 innings.

The strikeout total is second in the Carolina League, and Erbe is third in innings pitched.

Single-A Delmarva

Shorebirds second baseman Ryan Adams was leading the team in hitting with a .300 mark through yesterday.

Meanwhile, outfielder Joe Nowicki had passed designated hitter Joe Mahoney in a season-long duel for the RBI lead with 60 to Mahoney's 58.

Single-A Aberdeen

Left-handed starter Cole McCurry is off to a 6-0 start, tying a team single-season record for wins just 37 games in.

McCurry received a lot of help from the bottom third of the order Friday night in a 5-3 victory over Hudson Valley. Outfielders Robbie Widlansky and Lee Ellis and second baseman Eric Perlozzo, who batted seventh, eighth and ninth respectively, combined to go 5-for-11 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

william.free@baltsun.com

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