BRISTOL, Va. – Who finally came up with a way to stop the Bristol Pirates? Ken Waldichuk and his pals.
Bristol’s winning streak came to a screeching halt at five games as Pulaski’s pitching quartet of Waldichuk, Reid Anderson, Tyler Johnson and Derek Craft teamed to pitch a five-hit shutout in powering the Yankees to a 5-0 Appalachian League triumph on Monday night at DeVault Stadium.
Bristol (11-9) had scored a total of 34 runs in its previous five games, but managed just five singles against the Yankees. The Pirates are now a ½ game behind first-place Johnson City (11-8) in the Appy League’s West Division and are tied with Elizabethton (11-9) for second place.
A fifth-round selection by the New York Yankees in last month’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft out of Saint Mary’s College in California, Waldichuk set the tone for Pulaski.
He spun three perfect innings and struck out five of the nine batters he faced.
“[Pulaski pitching coach Gerardo Casadiego] met with us pregame and gave us a pretty good plan,” Waldichuk said. “[Catcher] Saul [Torres] called a great game behind the plate and I feel like he’s really good at reading swings. We were able to keep them off balance and I think we stuck to the gameplan and all of us pitchers got great defense behind us.”
Waldichuk was lifted with his perfect game intact, a common occurrence in the Appalachian League where pitch counts and innings limits are the norm. Waldichuk was 5-6 with a 3.69 ERA in 15 starts covering 92 2/3 innings during the college season.
One had to wonder with the way his stuff was working on Monday just how many more perfect innings Waldichuk could have chucked if he could have chucked more.
“It’s nice to be safe and I think I’m about 100 innings in [counting the college season] at this point,” Waldichuk said. “Right now I’m throwing a lot harder than I’ve ever thrown. In years past, I’ve usually dropped off [as the innings pitched increased]. I’m excited to see how well I can pitch [the rest of the way].”
Bristol didn’t get its first hit until Daniel Rivero’s two-out single in the fifth inning. Anderson (2-1, 4.91 ERA), Johnson and Craft preserved the shutout as the BriBucs never had a baserunner reach third base.
“They all had good life on their fastballs,” said Bristol designated hitter Marshall Gilbert. “They were able to mix very well as far as their offspeed stuff.”
Gilbert was actually making his professional debut for the Pirates and went 1-for-4 with a seventh-inning single. He played in the College World Series for the Mississippi State Bulldogs and was Pittsburgh’s 29th-round draft choice.
“It felt great to finally get back on the field and get back in the swing of things,” Gilbert said.
Rivero had two hits for Bristol, with Gilbert, Josh Bissonette and Ernny Ordonez accounting for the team’s other hits.
While Pulaski’s pitchers were on point, Bristol burned through six hurlers and the staff combined for nine walks and three wild pitches. Jose Maldonado (2-2, 2.70 ERA) was tagged with the loss.
Losing for just the third time in the last 13 contests, it was a rare subpar showing for the BriBucs.
“I felt like we hit a couple of balls hard right at guys in some key spots that could’ve gotten us some momentum,” said Bristol catcher Eli Wilson. “But give them a little credit. Obviously, we need to do a better job and get back to the drawing board. We get a day off to reset and we’ll be back at it.”
NOTES: Bristol released catcher Mason Fishback following Sunday’s game. The second-year pro started on opening night and was 1-for-8 in two games. … Saul Torres and Spencer Henson each had two hits and two RBIs for Pulaski, which improved to 11-8 … Bristol relief pitchers Trey McGough, Bear Bellomy and Oliver Garcia did combine to toss 4 2/3 scoreless innings. Bellomy has not allowed an earned run in six outings covering nine innings. A crowd of 562 attended Monday’s contest. … Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. put on a show in Monday’s MLB Home Run Derby. He played for the Bluefield Blue Jays of the Appy League and his first pro homer came on June 24, 2016 against Nicholas Economos of the Bristol Pirates at Bowen Field in Bluefield. … Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell was also in the Derby and throwing him pitches was Jonathan Schwind. Schwind played in six games for the Bristol Pirates in 2015. … After an off day today, Bristol returns to action on Wednesday as the Pirates begin a crucial three-game home series against the Johnson City Cardinals.