The St. Lucie Mets defeated the Jupiter Hammerheads 3-1 last night at Roger Dean Stadium in front of a large contingent of Tim Tebow fans scattered throughout the stadium.
Pitching was the show as neither team could get on the board until Anthony Domino lead off the fifth with a double and came home on a John Mora double play groundout to break the scoreless tie.
Then in the sixth inning it was Jhoan Urena who lead off with a double and reached third on an error in the outfield. Peter Alonso then drove Urena home by reaching for a pitch and lining it over the second baseman’s head for a single for a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Jupiter had a leadoff triple and the runner would score on a ground out to close the game to within one.
However, in the top of the 8th, St. Lucie would plate their third run of the game thanks to back-to-back doubles by Jhoan Urena and Peter Alonso. And that is how the scoring would end as the St. Lucie Mets take game one of the series here on the road with the Marlins A-Ball affiliate.
The star of the game was Andrew Church who went 6.2 innings allowing six hits, one earned run, one walk and eight strikeouts on 100 pitches. Church is now 6-7 on the season lowering his ERA to 5.09.
On the mound the radar had Church in the 88-91 range on his fastball, with his offspeed pitches sitting mostly between 81-83 MPH. The key for Andrew was getting ahead of the count on hitters and then pounding the bottom of the zone with his offspeed stuff and I believe that all strikeouts on the night were off his breaking pitch and all eight were swinging strikes.
The game changer on the night occurred in the Jupiter half of the fifth when the first three hitters reached on singles. One of those looked like a routine fly out to left field, but Tebow appeared to misjudge the ball and it dropped in front of his diving attempt. After a visit to the mound, and with the St. Lucie Mets bullpen getting active, Church proceeded to then strikeout the next three batters to end the inning.
Andrew pitched a scoreless sixth and was eventually relieved by Alex Palsha with two outs in the sixth when he gave up a liner on his 100th pitch. Palsha then got the ever friendly one pitch out to end the threat. Palsha later pitched himself into trouble in the eighth, but worked around the two hits without giving up a run.
Joshua Torres then came on in the ninth and blew away the Jupiter hitter by striking out the side for his third save on the year.
Here are some of my thoughts on the night:
Andrew Church effectively used his command and fastball to get ahead in the counts, and then went to work using all breaking stuff to keep the hitters off balance inducing many fly outs, soft grounders and swinging strikes. He throws in the upper 80s to low 90s but he maintained his velocity for all 100 pitches and for the most part he did an excellent job of keeping the ball down.
Tonight also marks the night I saw the best of Peter Alonso both offensively and defensively.
On offense the power once again showed on his liner down the third base line as the ball continues to pop off his bat. I think it was also a good sign to see Alonso go with a pitch away with a runner on third and punch it opposite field to score a big run for the team on the night.
On defense, I saw Alonso make a solid grab moving to his right on a hard chopper to record an out and he also saved Urena by recovering an errant throw and tagging runner out in the game.
Speaking of Urena, he had another solid night at the plate going 3 for 4 with two doubles. Urena continues to show a lot of power to center and right center as a left handed batter. In the field he continues to show a solid reliable glove but made one poor throw on the run that thankfully was snagged by Alonso.
Although obviously a small sample size, I came away impressed with Michael Paez defensively at second base. Showed quick instincts, a solid glove to catch a high chopper into his gut and also ability to catch and scoop to shortstop for an out.
Also, regarding Patrick Mazeika, he threw out a runner tonight and also had to field countless balls in the dirt all night from Church and especially Palsha with only one getting away from him leading to a runner taking a base.
Anthony Dimino is just becoming a T.J. Rivera type player you just want to root for. He has a nice quick compact swing. He hustles and he gets on base.
I’m now officially and quietly in panic mode with Wuilmer Becerra. He struggled all night at the plate though making contact but going 0 for 4 with one strikeout.
And of course there is Tim Tebow. Tebow lined an opposite field single in his first at bat but finished 1 for 4 with a strikeout and unless there was an injury he was taken out as a defensive replacement in the eighth. I observed Tebow swinging early and often in the count, with swings and misses on all first pitches that appeared to be a breaking ball. In the field he misplayed the ball that dropped in front of him and the triple off the wall can not truly be seen as his fault but it led to Jupiter only run.
Overall, it was a good night for Lucie who continue their series in Jupiter through the weekend.