April 2012

Dash Players on Twitter

(Photo courtesy of New Media Blog)

EDIT: Thanks to reader and tweeter John for pointing out that I forgot one. Dash infielder Dan Wagner is available at @danwag06. So we are up to 10 Dash players on Twitter.


The Dash have played really well over the last seven days. They have won a season-high seven in a row. So, Dash players deserve a reward, right?

Here is your chance to help. The Dash are all over the Twitter world. Here are the ones I could find:

Chris Bassitt (@C_Bass419): He may be the most active Dash player on Twitter. From tweets about the Dash, minor league travel and his favorite sports team, Chris is a Twitter machine.

Kyle Bellamy (@KyleBellamy_U): His picture is worth the click and follow alone. Check it out.

Nick Ciolli (@nciolli20): Nick is a big fan of the <<< or >>> fad.

Michael Earley (@MoneyMikeEarley): If you want to see what the Dash are playing for this season, check out Mike’s twitter picture.

Stephen McCray (@mccrazy44): The newest member of the Dash roster may have the best handle on the club.

Nick McCully (@NMcCully): He’s been in nine states over the last two and a half years. If anything, he probably has good packing advice.

Jake Oester (@oester16): The guy likes fishing. His picture proves it.

Jake Petricka (@jacobpetricka): He doesn’t tweet much, but they are almost always baseball-related posts. That’s enough for me.

Brady Shoemaker (@whitesox4321): Brady has never tweeted before, and he doesn’t follow anyone. Still, he has 15 followers. That’s making something out of nothing.

Let me know if I missed anyone, and be sure to give these guys a follow. By the way, the Dash’s Twitter account is approaching 3,000 followers. Be sure to give us a follow. We will do another fun Twitter post later this week! Talk to you tonight at 6:50 on wsdash.com for the Dash and the P-Nats.

– Brian

Sunday Fun in Wilmington

Six straight wins. It feels great to type. The Dash aim for seven in a row this afternoon at Frawley Stadium against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. We’ve got a grab bag Sunday for you here today on the blog, with monster offensive numbers, long hitting streaks and a ridiculous double play.

– Since Winston-Salem’s franchise became the Dash in advance of the 2009 season, the organization has only seen three winning streaks longer than this one. The longest in Dash history is nine, which stretched from April 14-22 of 2010. Winston also has a pair of eight-game streaks during this span: May 30-June 7, 2009, and August 26-September 3, 2010.

– The Dash’s six-game winning streak is the longest in the Carolina League thus far this season. It eclipsed Lynchburg’s season-opening five-game winning streak. The Dash now own the Carolina League’s best record for the first time this year. The Dash lead the Hillcats (12-8) by a half game.

– It was a Saturday hit parade for Winston-Salem. The Dash easily established a new high water mark in the hit category with 18 hits, four more than the Dash’s previous high, which came April 11 at Frederick. The Dash have not posted that many hits since pulverizing Potomac with 23 knocks in a 15-3 blowout victory August 21, 2011.


Mike Blanke puts his nine-game hit streak on the line Sunday (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

– Dash catcher Mike Blanke has bounced back from a slow start in a big way. After starting 5-for-26 in his first seven games, Blanke has hit safely in nine in a row, which is a season high for a Winston swinger. “I feel like I was swinging good before,” Blanke said. “I just wasn’t finding the holes. I was hitting a lot of hard outs.”

– Blanke has raised his batting average to .288 because of a .364 average (12-for-33) during his hitting streak. “I’m starting to find holes now,” Blanke said. “I’m just keeping my same approach. We’re just going to continue building off that.”

– Let’s not forget about the pitching staff. Winston starter Steve McCray looked solid in his first career High-A appearance Saturday. In four innings of work, the righty allowed three runs, but all of them were unearned. Behind McCray, Jon Bachanov gave up one run in three innings for his third victory. Bachanov is tied with four other hurlers for the league lead in wins, but he is the quintet’s only reliever.

– Finally, this clip is so good, I have to show it. It has nothing to do with the Dash, but check out this double play turned by Kansas City’s Double-A affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Ouch. Thanks to the Naturals’ twitter account (one of MiLB’s best) for this video.

Hear more from Mike Blanke on the Pre-Game Dash, which begins at 1:20 this afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:35 from the “First State.” Bring your brooms.

– Brian

Petricka Thrives in Victory

Winston-Salem earned its fifth straight win Friday night in Wilmington, and the star of the show was Dash starter Jake Petricka. The fourth best prospect in the White Sox system according to Baseball America, Petricka turned in his best outing of the season. The righty went five innings and surrendered just one run on three hits.


Jake Petricka recorded his best start of the season Friday at Wilmington (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

“I was very happy with how everything went,” Petricka said. “It’s improvement from the previous outings.”

The main improvement stemmed from Petricka’s ability to escape trouble. Prior to his victory Friday, Petricka had begun 14 different innings on the mound. In nine of those frames, Petricka posted a zero. However, in the other five innings, Petricka allowed multiple runs. It really was feast or famine for the Northfield, Minn., native, who decided to mix up his pitches in the midst of multiple Wilmington threats.

“Before guys got on, I was like, ‘All right, I got a sinker or fastball’,” Petricka said. “I kept mixing in the changeups and a few sliders [with runners on] and kept them off balance enough that they couldn’t score.”

In his first three outings, Petricka stumbled to a 1-2 start with an earned run average at 6.92. He believes that a lack of pitch variation led to the rough trio of outings to begin the season.

“I did a poor job of mixing up my pitches,” Petricka said. “These hitters can hit fastballs. It doesn’t matter how hard you’re throwing. I just kept throwing it to them, which was my mistake.”

With a new approach, Petricka cruised past a Blue Rocks squad that has been playing some good baseball lately.


The Dash have won five in a row, which matches the longest winning streak in the Carolina League thus far this season. Here are a few notes on Winston’s recent roll:

– This is Winston-Salem’s longest win streak since the club won six straight July 25-30, 2011. The last time Winston owned a five-game winning streak with all of the games against Northern Division foes came from May 6-10, 2011, when the Dash won three over Lynchburg and a pair against Potomac.

– This is the ninth time that Winston-Salem has won five or more games in a row since becoming the Dash prior to the 2009 season. The Dash’s longest winning streak is nine games from April 14-22, 2010.

– The Dash are 12-8 in part due to their ability to pull off narrow victories. Winston-Salem is 4-2 in one-run games and 3-1 in two-run contests thus far this season. The Dash have won seven of their last nine games, with five of those victories coming by one or two runs.

– The Dash have won five straight, but they haven’t been able to seize full control of first place because Myrtle Beach has won four of five. Winston-Salem has had a share of first place nine days this season, but they have yet to be in sole possession of first.

Hear more from Jake Petricka during the Pre-Game Dash at 5:50. You can listen live here, as Winston-Salem aims for its sixth win in a row. Talk to you then.

– Brian

Dash Add Pitcher

Steve McCray played his college baseball at the University of Tennessee. He is now a member of the Dash's rotation (Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images).

The White Sox announced a roster move that affects the Dash earlier today. Right-handed hurler Steve McCray has joined the Dash in advance of the opener of a three-game series at Wilmington. McCray began the season with Low-A Kannapolis and posted an 0-2 record but a solid 2.30 earned run average. In 15 and two-thirds innings, the Lilburn, Ga., native surrendered four runs on ten hits. He struck out 14 and walked only three.

McCray will be the newest member of Winston-Salem’s starting rotation. His first High-A appearance and start will be in about 24 hours against Wilmington. It will be McCray’s 17th start and 41st appearance in his minor league career.

McCray takes the roster spot of righty Andre Rienzo, who was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball. This season, Rienzo was 3-0 with an ERA of 1.08 in four starts with Winston-Salem.

The Dash wrapped up their homestand with a sweep-clinching victory over Potomac last night. Trayce Thompson’s RBI single with the bases loaded in the ninth gave the Dash a 7-6 win. The club made the overnight trip north to Delaware, and Winston kicks off a seven-game road trip tonight at 7:05 from Frawley Stadium in Wilmington.

Join me on the Pre-Game Dash at 6:50 tonight to hear from Dash skipper Tommy Thompson and relive the walk-off magic last night at BB&T Ballpark. Talk to you then.

– Brian

Dash Pummel Potomac

It truly was an incredible effort by the Dash yesterday at BB&T Ballpark. Winston-Salem slammed Potomac 14-0. Here are some facts about the shellacking in front of more than 4,000 fans in Winston 24 hours ago:

– The Dash set season highs for runs (14) and doubles (five) in a single game while falling one short of their season high in hits (14 at Frederick April 11).

– Dash catcher Miguel Gonzalez set a career high with five runs batted in Wednesday afternoon. Gonzalez singled home a pair during Winston’s six-run sixth inning, and he capped off the scoring with a three-run double in the eighth frame. It marks the first time a Dash hitter has had five RBI in a game since Andy Wilkins drove in five during an 8-2 defeat of Myrtle Beach August 28, 2011.

Marcus Semien hit the eighth grand slam in Dash history Wednesday (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Marcus Semien entered Wednesday with a batting average of .211 and only four RBI, but he walked off the field with Winston-Salem’s first grand slam of the season. Semien went yard over the left field fence with the bases loaded in the sixth. It was just the eighth grand slam hit by Winston-Salem since the franchise became the Dash in ‘09.

– Winston’s five pitchers combined on a two-hitter, which is the lowest number of hits allowed by the club this season. It was also the Dash’s third shutout of the campaign.

– After a slow start, Dash catcher Mike Blanke has gotten hot lately. He owns a seven-game hitting streak, which is one away from the Dash’s highest this year. Blanke is hitting 8-for-26 (.308) with four RBI during the streak.

Ryan Buch took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and finished with five scoreless innings. Four different relievers posted a scoreless frame behind Buch. It was the lowest hit output by a Winston-Salem opponent in a nine-inning shutout since the Dash held Salem to one hit May 13, 2011.

– Today, Winston-Salem has a chance to earn its first sweep since July 29-30, 2011, at Myrtle Beach. It would be the Dash’s first four-game sweep since July 25-28 at home against Kinston.

– Winston-Salem has not swept Potomac since a two-game series that was shortened because of a postponement May 5-6, 2006. The last time Winston-Salem swept Potomac in a four-game series was in Winston April 21-24, 2005.

We’ll let you know if the Dash can pull it off tonight, beginning with the Pre-Game Dash at 6:45. Talk to you then.

– Brian

End of Class Celebration

The Dash will host an “End of Class Celebration” for college students tonight at BB&T Ballpark. College students can get a ticket to tonight’s game for just $5 if they show their college ID and prove that they follow the Dash on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Students can prove this by showing one of these accounts on their phone or by printing out a screenshot from one of the Dash’s social media pages.

We’ll also have Thirsty Thursday discounted drink specials – $3 beer specials, $1 off sodas, and an exclusive drink special in the Outfield Bar. Plus, the NFL Draft will be available on the TVs in the Outfield Bar.

Stay tuned to the blog later for a breakdown of Winston-Salem’s dominant victory over Potomac yesterday.

– Brian

Who Lives in a Pineapple Under the Sea?

Spongebob is ready for baseball at BB&T Ballpark (Spongebob Squarepants).

The answer is Spongebob Squarepants, and there is no doubt that he will be a key aspect of today’s game between the Dash and the Potomac Nationals.

That’s because more than 3,000 students will be in attendance for today’s noon contest at BB&T Ballpark, and Spongebob’s theme song tends to get plenty of love when a minor league team plays an early game.

In all seriousness, we are excited to bring the Dash experience to these students. Speaking of, here are the schools that will be represented at BB&T Ballpark this afternoon:

– Carter G. Woodson Elementary School
– Carter Vocational High School
– Cedar Ridge Elementary School
– Copeland Elementary School
– Cornatzer Elementary School
– East Forsyth High School
– East Forsyth Middle School
– Franklin Elementary School
– Hall-Woodward Elementary School
– North Davie Middle School
– North Hills Elementary School
– Petree Elementary School
– Roaring River Elementary School
– Sandy Ridge Elementary School
– St. Leo Catholic Elementary School
– Westchester Country Day School
– West Stokes High School
– White Plains Elementary School

I went to one minor league game as a field trip in school, but my experience was hampered a bit by the fact that we left EARLY! I never leave games early, but we had to get back to school before the end of the school day. It was the most depressing end to a field trip in my life. I hope none of these students have to go through the same experience.

Still, I will take a trip down memory lane today when all of these students enjoy Dash baseball, and we hope all of them enjoy it. Sure, there will be plenty of Spongebob today, but I wish there would be more of these three shows, my favorite cartoons of my childhood.

3. Doug

There were a few other shows that almost edged Doug for the top 3, but Mr. Funnie and his gang get this spot. I forgot how great the rope is during this intro.

2. Rugrats

When I was younger, I wanted to be as cool as Tommy Pickles. I failed miserably.

1. Hey Arnold!

I couldn’t get enough of this show as a kid. If we play the theme song during the game, I will be a happy man.

Mike and I hit the air early today. It’s an 11:45 a.m. Pre-Game Dash, with first pitch set for noon between the Dash and the P-Nats. We’ll talk to you then.

– Brian

Two Roster Moves

J.R. Ballinger is back in Winston-Salem (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Prior to today’s game against the Potomac Nationals, the White Sox made a couple of moves that affect the Dash.

Jimmy Ballinger, who goes by J.R., has been activated from the disabled list and added to the Dash’s 25-man roster. A native of Moss Point, Miss., Ballinger spent much of the 2011 season in Winston-Salem. He went 4-2 with a 5.23 earned run average in 18 appearances with the Dash. The right-hander also made an appearance with Triple-A Charlotte in ’11 and tossed three and a third scoreless innings.

To make room for Ballinger, the White Sox released Paul Burnside. Burnside made four appearances for the Dash this season and stumbled to an earned run average of 16.88. Last season with Low-A Kannapolis, Burnside went 8-4 with a 3.22 earned run average mostly as a starter, but he switched to the bullpen with Winston prior to his release.

Winston-Salem’s bullpen has been a strong unit throughout the season’s first 16 games. In 59 innings of work, Dash relievers boast a 2.75 ERA. Overall, Winston checks in at fourth in the CL with a 4.00 ERA.

Join Mike and I on the Pre-Game Dash beginning at 6:45 tonight for game two of this four-game set between the Dash and the P-Nats. Talk to you then!

– Brian

Dashing Around Baseball-April 24

I want to apologize to the loyal readers of this blog who have come to expect a new Dashing Around Baseball each Monday. I’ll blame the rain on this post going up today. When the Dash game was suspended Sunday, I failed to realize the next day was Monday. With games every day, most baseball people have no idea what day of the week it is (until fireworks suddenly erupt during the post game show…then it must be a Friday). Anyway, there is plenty to recap around the Carolina League and White Sox organization.

Rainy Destruction- The weather devastated the Carolina League schedule this past weekend. Saturday, the Potomac-Salem and Frederick-Lynchburg games were rained out. Then, with both matchups scheduled for double-headers Sunday, the rain wiped out both twin-bills.

It did appear that the Dash had been blessed with rain circumvention ability as  BB&T Ballpark was the only place that escaped the water Saturday night. The same occurrence took place Wednesday night in Myrtle Beach. The radar showed rain everywhere in and around the Myrtle Beach area, yet the downpour only occurred as the team was getting on the bus and leaving to head back to Winston-Salem.

The dry spell unfortunately ended Sunday when the rain did not subside and less than an inning was completed. The teams waited out the rain for nearly an hour before the game was finally suspended. If the teams had waited it out, perhaps they could have tried to challenge South Florida and Connecticut for the greatest rain delay dance-off of all time.

Fortunately, the Dash and Blue Rocks didn’t have a five-hour wait, but now you know what to expect next time you experience a rain delay at a ballpark.

Daisuke Matsuzaka struggled with Salem last night against Wilmington (Salem Red Sox).

Major League Appearance in Salem- Monday night, Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka started a game for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last June. Dice-K was on the mound for the Salem Red Sox, and he got off to a rough start. Wilmington hit its first four home runs of the season this past weekend against the Dash and continued its new found power display with two more home runs off Matsuzaka. Davie County native Whit Merrifield took Dice-K deep on the first at-bat of the game. The Blue Rocks have won three straight games to jump to 8-8 on the season.

Back on the Rails- Mudcats pitcher Mike Rayl (pronounced “Rail”) is the reigning Carolina League Pitcher of the Week. Rayl was named Pitcher of the Week because he didn’t face the Dash this past week (actually because he pitched 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball against Wilmington last week) but let me explain. Rayl’s two previous outings came against Winston-Salem. In the two games the Dash scored six runs on nine hits in 11 innings. Rayl also pitched Monday night and allowed one run in five innings and struck out five. It appears the Dash have figured out a puzzle the rest of the league cannot solve.

Around the Farm

Dashing Around Baseball returns to its normal day next Monday. Thanks for reading, and be sure to come out to BB&T Ballpark for the final three games of the homestand before the Dash hit the road for a week. If you can’t make it out to the park, we are always on the air at wsdash.com.


Mr. 700 – Tommy Thompson

When the Dash finish their next game (hopefully tonight, weather permitting), Winston-Salem skipper Tommy Thompson will have managed his 700th game in affiliated minor league baseball.

Thompson is one of the most likeable baseball men you will come across in the game. I told him about this fact prior to yesterday’s game, and he responded by saying, “Well now I feel old.” After that joke and a few others with hitting coach Gary Ward, Thompson reflected a bit on his run in minor league baseball:

“It’s been a great life. I’ve had an opportunity to do what I love to do–play the game of baseball, travel, coach young kids. It’s a privilege. It’s a privilege to do what you love to do and actually get paid for it. I don’t know what else I would be doing. I’m very thankful for the Chicago White Sox. I’m very thankful to have this opportunity. At the end of the day, it’s very rewarding.”

Here are a few fun facts about the career of Dash skipper Tommy Thompson:

– He has managed seven seasons in affiliated minor league baseball: Utica (1990), South Bend (1991), Charleston W.Va. (1996), Frederick (2007-08), Kannapolis (2011) and Winston-Salem (2012). The Oklahoma native has a 333-366 (.481) all-time record.

– He won the 2007 Mills Cup Championship with the Frederick Keys despite the club only mustering a 64-74 overall record in the regular season.

– Thompson has spent 23 seasons with the White Sox minor league system in many different roles.

On a personal note, Tommy is a great guy to work with here in Winston-Salem. It is a pleasure to be around him on a day-to-day basis. Here’s to 700 more.

– Brian