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Oakland Athletics Minor League Notebook: Grant Holmes plays ace

The Midland RockHounds won a must-win game and the Stockton Ports clinched a playoff berth. Meanwhile, the Nashville Sounds and the Beloit Snappers earned wins on a perfect night for Oakland Athletics affiliates.

Grant Holmes / Photo by Kimberly Contreras
Grant Holmes worked eight innings in a must-win game for Midland. / Photo by Kimberly Contreras

In need of a victory to remain in position for a playoff spot, the Midland RockHounds turned to Grant Holmes and the 21-year-old put together his best start of the season in the RockHounds’ 4-1 win over the Frisco RoughRiders. Midland can clinch a fourth consecutive playoff berth with a win tomorrow or a Corpus Christi loss.

Holmes was brilliant in his final regular season start of the year. He carried a perfect game into the fourth inning and finished with a season-high eight innings pitched. Holmes allowed just one unearned run on three hits and one walk. He struck-out five. He finishes the season with a 4.49 ERA in 145.1 innings. Holmes struck-out 150 and walked 61. He leads the league in strike-outs and has set the RockHounds’ franchise record for Ks in a season.

It took awhile for the Midland offense to come alive in support of Holmes. Through eight innings, all Midland had to show for their offense was a Sean Murphy solo homerun in the fifth inning. The homer was Murphy’s fourth with Midland and 13th overall this season.

With the game knotted at 1 in the ninth, the RockHounds’ offense finally kicked into gear. Jermaine Curtis walked to start the inning and Viosergy Rosa followed with a single to move pinch-runner Jordan Tarsovich to second. Max Schrock then went to the opposite field with a groundball single to break the tie. After a J.P. Sportman sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk of Sheldon Neuse, the RockHounds scored again on a wild pitch. Tyler Ramirez walked to load the bases and Murphy followed with a sacrifice fly to give the RockHounds a comfortable three-run cushion.

Kyle Finnegan made sure that lead was safe. After allowing a lead-off double, Finnegan retired the side on a groundout and two strike-outs to record his ninth save for Midland.

Rosa, Schrock and Neuse each had two-hit games. Neuse is batting .355 since his promotion to Midland. B.J. Boyd went 0-for-5 to fall back into a tie for the Texas League lead in batting average with a .326 mark.

Ports clinch a playoff berth

Nate Mondou hit a two-out, RBI single to break a 5-5 tie and give the Stockton Ports a 6-5 win over the San Jose Giants. That win coupled with the Visalia Rawhide’s loss to the Modesto Nuts gives the Ports the second-half North Division title and a ticket to the post-season.

Seth Brown became the Ports’ all-time record-holder for RBI in a season when he hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give him 109 on the year. The homer was Brown’s 30th of the season. He joins Renato Nunez in the 30-homer club in the A’s system. Mikey White also homered in the first, his 17th of the year. Mondou, Brown and Raga finished with two-hit games.

The Ports had a 4-1 lead in the fifth when Bryan Reynolds hit a two-out grandslam to give San Jose the lead. Stockton tied the game back up at five with a run in the sixth and then took the lead on Mondou’s clutch hit in the eighth. Kyle Friedrichs allowed the Reynolds’ grandslam as the first batter he faced, but he was excellent after that, going 3.1 innings. He struck-out four and was charged with one run. Nolan Blackwood worked a one-two-three ninth to lock down his 19th save of the season. The Ports will meet the Nuts in the Cal League semi-finals next week.

Other Notes:

— A Jaff Decker homer tied the game and a Chris Carter sacrifice fly put the Nashville Sounds in the lead in an eventful ninth inning that led to a comeback, 4-3 win over the New Orleans Baby Cakes. Carter also homered in the seventh inning and had two hits for Nashville. Decker, Melvin Mercedes and Joey Wendle also had two-hit games. Daniel Mengden got the start and he worked four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth. He allowed three runs in the fifth inning and finished with three runs allowed on six hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. Chris Bassitt had a solid relief appearance, tossing 2.1 scoreless frames. He allowed a hit and struck-out four. Raul Alcantara earned his fourth save with a perfect ninth.

— Zack Erwin was strong once again and the Beloit Snappers scored the game-winning run on a Jesus Lopez bunt in the bottom of the eighth in a 3-2 Beloit win over the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Erwin didn’t factor in the decision, but he threw six two-hit innings, allowing an unearned run. Erwin struck-out five and walked one. He finishes the regular season with a 2.08 ERA in 95.1 innings. Erwin struck-out 91 and walked 29. Josh Vidales had two hits to pace the Beloit offense. Jean Carlo Rodriguez had a double and drove-in two.

— The Vermont Lake Monsters’ game against Tri-City was rained out and will be made-up as a double-header on Monday. Vermont’s magic number to claim the Stedler Division is one.

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