Some games are all about the bats, but others are all about the guys on the mound. Fans were treated to a pitching duel Tuesday night at Dan Daniel Memorial Park as the Danville Braves hosted the Burlington Royals in the second game of a three-game series.
Zach Soria broke up the Burlington no-hit and shutout bid with a one-out single in the bottom of the eighth, but the Royals hung on for a 2-1 win over Danville.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Braves had won three straight, as well as the last six contests against the Royals. That streak came to an end, however, as the Royals struck out 14 Braves and allowed just the one hit.
Marcelo Martinez got the start for Burlington and worked the first six innings. Despite the fact he still had a no-hitter going after 93 pitches, he was pulled after allowing only two walks and striking out 10. Martinez’ last start prior to Tuesday was a six-inning, one-hit performance where he struck out 12 against the Pulaski Yankees.
“It was Martinez, man. You go look at his outings, he’s got a lot of strikeouts,” said Danville Manager Barrett Kleinknecht. “He’s just a good pitcher, a really good pitcher. To be honest, I thought we battled him pretty good, but he had his changeup working today and he could throw it in any count. In baseball, if you have a good changeup you’re going to be pretty good.”
The Royals scored their only two runs in the second inning off of Danville starter Tanner Lawson. Rhett Aplin led off with a single and scored on a double by Freddy Fermin. Fermin would come around to score on a throwing error on the infield with two outs in the inning to make it 2-0.
That was the last inning for Lawson and the rest of the game was Braves bullpen arms. Jake Higginbotham went three scoreless innings and then Mason McReaken and Brooks Wilson each worked two scoreless innings apiece to keep the Braves within striking distance as the no-hitter continued.
“I was pleased with all of our pitchers tonight,” Kleinknecht said. “They got in there, they attacked, they made pitches when they needed to, had a couple big double plays so all-in-all I’m very pleased with how we did tonight.”
The Braves as a staff struck out 12 Royals and allowed just eight hits, but it was the Royals’ pitching that was the story of the night. Ted Cillis relieved Martinez in the seventh inning. He worked a 1-2-3 inning there, but in the eighth he walked Rusber Estrada to start the eighth inning and after a ground out, Soria ripped a single to centerfield to score Estrada to cut the lead in half and break up the no-hitter.
Kleinknecht said that there was no stress in the dugout while the no-hitter was going on.
“I think it all depends on the situation. If you’re getting beat 9-0 a no-hitter is a little different, but I’m in there joking around with them, yelling no-hitter and stuff like that,” he said. “I thought we had some good at bats, a lot of 3-2 counts, a lot of 3-1 counts so we made him work… you’ve just got to tip your cap.”
The Braves got the potential winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but Kyle Hinton closed the door for the Burlington win.
After Danville picked up the first game of the series Monday night, the two teams will meet again Wednesday night for the rubber game of the three-game set.
“As long as we play like we did tonight, play with the same intensity, I’ll be fine,” Kleinknecht said.