BRISTOL, Va. – Patrick Kasey Morris of the Bluefield Blue Jays goes by P.K.
Those initials could have stood for Prodigious Knock on Tuesday night.
Morris mashed a no-doubt three-run homer in the fifth inning and his longball propelled Bluefield to a 7-5 Appalachian League win over the Bristol Pirates at DeVault Stadium.
The seventh home run of the season for Morris came on a 3-2 offering from Bristol starting pitcher Santiago Florez (1-1, 4.15 ERA) with one out and Bluefield’s first baseman got every bit of the pitch with a powerful cut.
“I fouled off a couple of 3-2 pitches,” Morris said. “With guys on second and third I figured he was going to come back with a fastball again and I tried to put a good swing on it.”
He did just that and Bristol (26-27) had its three-game winning streak snapped. The Pirates were held to their lowest run total since a 4-3 loss to Kingsport in the first game of a doubleheader on Aug. 8.
The BriBucs scored twice in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
“We just came up short there at the end,” said Bristol designated hitter Aaron Shackelford.
Shackelford’s seventh homer of the year in the bottom of the first inning put the BriBucs ahead 2-0 and a solo shot by Eli Wilson gave the team a 3-2 lead in the fourth.
However, Morris had the biggest blast in the fifth.
The third-year pro who once starred at George M. Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Florida, had homered at DeVault Stadium on Monday night as well.
Bluefield (26-27) was in desperate need of a victory.
“We had lost four in a row, so this is a big win,” Morris said. “Hopefully, it gets us back on track to play well for the rest of the season.”
Bristol failed to get its record above the .500 mark for the first time since July 12, but it was by no fault of Shackelford’s.
The 22-year-old slugger from California homered in the first, tripled in the third, walked in the fifth and doubled in the ninth as he finished a single shy of the cycle. Yoyner Fajardo had two hits in the loss.
The BriBucs are in third place in the Appy League’s West Division as Johnson City (28-25) leads and Elizabethton (27-26) is in second.
Nine of Bristol’s remaining 14 games are on the road, including a six-game swing through Princeton and Bluefield that begins on Thursday.
“I don’t want to go out and bag on other teams, but I feel like this team wants to win more than most,” Shackelford said. “We’re excited for the road trip. Our goal is to win every game and if we keep hitting like we are, teams can’t beat us.”
NOTES: An 18-minute rain delay occurred in the top of the ninth inning. … Felipe Castaneda (3-2, 3.86 ERA) pitched five innings of one-run ball to pick up the win on the mound for Bluefield. … A crowd of 201 was on hand. … Mitch Keller of the Pittsburgh Pirates earned the first win of his MLB career on Monday night, pitching five strong innings to beat the Los Angeles Angels. Keller made six starts for the BriBucs in 2015. … Bristol is off today, before beginning that six-game road trip. The Pirates return home on Aug. 21 to host the Pulaski Yankees.