SDCS Game 3 Preview – Dash at Myrtle Beach

Southern Division Championship Series – Game 3 (Tied 1-1)
Winston-Salem Dash vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Friday, September 11 – 7:05 p.m.
TicketReturn.Com Field (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Winston-Salem plated three runs in the final two innings, but Myrtle Beach survived for a 4-3 victory to force a deciding Game 3 in the SDCS. The Dash have lost five consecutive road playoff games entering this winner-take-all clash with the Pelicans. Stay tuned to #PlayoffDash Central for more information.

Preview MW 9_11STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Eddy Alvarez – SS
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Omar Narvaez – C
Nolan Earley – RF
Michael Danner – DH
Brandon Brennan – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • In the top of the ninth Thursday, Winston-Salem loaded the bases with nobody out when a rain shower prompted a rain delay of two hours and 44 minutes. After the delay, the Dash plated a pair on a Trey Michalczewski fielder’s choice and a Keon Barnum RBI groundout. However, Nick Basto struck out with Michalczewski representing the tying run at third base.
  • The winner of Friday’s deciding Game 3 will advance to the Mills Cup Finals against either Lynchburg or Wilmington. In the Dash’s last postseason run, they knocked off the Pelicans 9-0 in Game 3 of the SDCS at BB&T Ballpark.
  • With a victory, the Dash would reach the Mills Cup Finals for a third time in six seasons, while Myrtle Beach is eyeing a second consecutive trip to the best-of-five Finals. Winston-Salem has not won a Mills Cup since 2003, while the Pelicans’ last crown came in 2000.
  • With the season on the line, Winston-Salem turns to righty Brandon Brennan, who has not given up a run since coming off the disabled list (blister) on August 23 (3 GS, 11.0 IP). Brennan has allowed 29 runs in 58.1 innings, and 16 of them have come around in the first inning. The former fourth-round pick has an 11.25 ERA in the first and a 1.55 ERA after the opening inning.
  • Winston-Salem amassed three runs on only two hits, the franchise’s lowest total in a postseason contest in the Dash era (2009-present). The previous low-water mark was a three-hit effort in a 2-0 win over Kinston in the 2010 SDCS.
  • In the regular season, the Dash were limited to two hits in five games, most recently on July 2 against Carolina. On that night, Andrew Waszak took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, which had been the longest such run by a Dash opponent in 2015 until Brad Markey’s gem on Thursday, during which he retired the first 14 Dash hitters and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
  • For just the fourth time since the All-Star break, Winston-Salem dropped a one-run game. The Dash boasted a league-best 17-3 (.850) record in games decided by a run in the second half. Winston was 33-15 (.689) in games within three runs in the second half after an 18-25 (.419) showing in such situations in half one.
  • Game 2 of the SDCS took 2:45 to complete, while the rain delay in the ninth inning elapsed 2:44, representing the longest in Dash history. In fact, the Dash era had never featured a delay that surpassed the two-hour mark. Winston had not experienced a longer delay since July 8, 2007, at Kinston (3:14). Thursday’s game ended six minutes after it resumed at 12:29 a.m. EDT.
  • In franchise history, Winston-Salem is 4-3 in winner-take-all situations. Since becoming the Dash in 2009, the club is 2-3 when facing elimination in the playoffs, with both of the wins coming in the 2012 SDCS victory over Myrtle Beach.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Friday’s game will be broadcast live in the following ways:

Radio: N/A
TV: MiLB.tv (Pelicans’ feed/broadcasters)
Online: wsdash.com/broadcast
Phone/Tablet: TuneIn App.

The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 7:05 p.m. from TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

– Brian

SDCS Game 2 Preview – Dash at Myrtle Beach

Southern Division Championship Series – Game 2 (Dash lead 1-0)
Winston-Salem Dash vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Thursday, September 10 – 7:05 p.m.
TicketReturn.Com Field (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Behind a three-run first and dynamite work from three hurlers, Winston-Salem knocked off Myrtle Beach 4-2 in Game 1 of the Southern Division Championship Series. As a result, the Dash can clinch their third trip to the Mills Cup Finals in the last six seasons with a win Thursday in South Carolina. Stay tuned to #PlayoffDash Central for more information.

Preview MW 9_10 (1)STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Eddy Alvarez – SS
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Omar Narvaez – C
Nolan Earley – RF
Michael Danner – DH
Yency Almonte – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Trey Michalczewski and Keon Barnum homered on consecutive pitches in the first to give the Dash a lead they would not relinquish on Wednesday. Michalczewski and Barnum became the first Dash duo to club back-to-back home runs in more than two years. Michalczewski had only gone deep once in his previous 76 games dating back to June 2. Barnum was the club’s regular season leader with nine long balls.
  • Carson Fulmer, Brian Clark and Brad Goldberg limited Myrtle Beach to two runs on five hits. Fulmer permitted just a third-inning Chesny Young RBI groundout over his three-inning start before Clark allowed one run on five hits in five innings. Goldberg rolled through the heart of the Pelicans’ order in the ninth for the save.
  • The Dash played in and won many close games in the second half, two trends that continued in Wednesday’s postseason opener. In half two, Winston-Salem went 33-15 (.689) in games decided by three runs or less after posting an 18-25 (.419) mark in the first half. The second-half record includes a league-best 17-3 (.850) showing in one-run tilts.
  • Since the break, the Dash are 8-4 against Myrtle Beach, with nine of those games decided by no more than three runs. The average margin of victory in these 12 games stands at just 26 (2.2 per game).
  • Myrtle Beach recorded the CL’s second-best home mark in the regular season (39-28), but the Dash won seven of their nine meetings with the Pelicans at TicketReturn.Com Field. In the Dash era (2009-present), the Dash have posted a better single-season road record at one site only twice, matching 8-2 records at Lynchburg in 2010 and Wilmington in 2012.
  • With a win Thursday in South Carolina, the Dash would punch their ticket to the Mills Cup Finals for the third time in six seasons. Winston-Salem would also clinch its first postseason sweep since taking all three from Kinston the 2010 SDCS.
  • The clincher of that series also marks the club’s most recent road playoff win. The Dash have dropped four straight postseason games away from the Triad (two at Potomac in the 2010 MCCS; two at Lynchburg in the 2012 MCCS).
  • With all of this up for grabs, Winston-Salem turns to right-hander Yency Almonte in Game 2. Almonte has amassed 19 strikeouts in his last two outings spanning 10.1 frames (1.8 strikeouts per inning). Before these two efforts, the former Angels farmhand had never whiffed more than seven in a start (12 on 8/30 vs. FRE, 7 on 9/5 at FRE). In his two outings against the Pelicans, Almonte was 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA (four ER in 14.2 IP) and six strikeouts.
  • Until Wednesday night, Winston-Salem had not won a playoff game in exactly three years (Game 2 of the MCCS, 5-4 vs. Lynchburg on September 9, 2012). The Dash collected their first Game 1 playoff triumph since the 2010 MCCS opener).

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Thursday’s game will be broadcast live in the following ways:

Radio: 600 AM-WSJS
TV: MiLB.tv (Pelicans’ feed/broadcasters)
Online: wsjs.com and wsdash.com/broadcast
Phone/Tablet: TuneIn App.

The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 7:05 p.m. from TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

– Brian

Postgame Audio – SDCS Game 1

The Dash earned a 4-2, wire-to-wire victory over Myrtle Beach in Game 1 of the Southern Division Championship Series. Thus, Winston-Salem is one win away from its third trip to the Mills Cup Finals in the last six seasons.

Some postgame audio from Wednesday’s action at BB&T Ballpark is below, including thoughts from skipper Tim Esmay, Carson Fulmer and Trey Michalczewski, along with play-by-play highlights.

– Brian

SDCS Game 1 Preview – Dash vs. Myrtle Beach

Southern Division Championship Series – Game 1 (series tied 0-0)
Winston-Salem Dash (75-63) vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (81-57)
Wednesday, September 9 – 6:30 p.m.
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

For the first time in exactly three years, BB&T Ballpark will host a playoff game. Winston-Salem entertains Myrtle Beach in Game 1 of the Southern Division Championship Series. A full preview of the 2015 Carolina League Playoffs is available in our Postseason Primer, while fans can follow along with the schedule and purchase tickets at #PlayoffDash Central.

9_9 MW PREVIEW

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Eddy Alvarez – SS
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Omar Narvaez – C
Nolan Earley – RF
Michael Danner – DH
Carson Fulmer – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • The Dash have won 14 of their last 17 contests dating back to August 20, the only day this half that Winston-Salem did not possess at least a share of first place. The day prior, Myrtle Beach swept the Dash in a doubleheader, dropping Winston’s overall record to 61-60.
  • The Dash have outscored their opponents 77-41 since that Pelicans sweep, which averages out to 4.5-2.4. This marks the first time in the Dash era (2009-present) that Winston is 14-3 in a 17-game span.
  • Myrtle Beach (81-57) and Winston-Salem (75-63) boast the top two overall records in the Carolina League, and the two teams split their 26-game season series. The Dash were 7-2 on the Grand Strand, while the Pelicans went 11-6 in the Triad. The top two pitching staffs on the circuit will be on display (MB – 3.01 ERA, W-S – 3.13 ERA).
  • The Dash are turning to first-rounder Carson Fulmer as their starting pitcher for Game 1. In his eight starts with Winston-Salem, Fulmer has never pitched more than three innings. Over his last five appearances, the former Vanderbilt star has only permitted one run in 15 innings (0.60 ERA), during which he has punched out 16. Winston-Salem is a perfect 8-0 in games that Fulmer has started thus far this year.
  • In the second half, the Dash have played in plenty of narrow games and won most of them. The Dash are a league-best 17-3 in one-run contests since the All-Star break (7-11 in the first half). Winston also stands 33-15 in games decided by three runs or less. Thus, 71 percent of the Dash’s games since the All-Star break were within three runs.
  • Winston-Salem’s pitching staff has been one of the best in team history. The Dash’s 3.13 ERA is the lowest since 1976, when the Winston-Salem Red Sox recorded a 3.12 mark. Records for team ERA are available through MiLB and Baseball Reference all the way back to 1957, and Winston-Salem’s 2015 ERA is the fourth-best for the franchise during that span.
  • Entering this season, Winston-Salem’s record in the playoffs sits at an even 57-57 (.505) over 114 all-time games. In 36 playoff series, Winston has a 19-17 record. In the Dash era (2009-present), Winston-Salem is 7-10 overall and 2-3 in series during its three postseason journeys.
  • Since the Carolina League went to the split-season format in 1970, only eight other teams accomplished what the Dash did in 2015 – follow up a first half of 40 or more losses with a second half of 40 or more wins.
  • Winston-Salem boasts the last three occurrences (2004, 2008, 2015). The last instance outside of the Triad came in 1998 (Prince William Cannons). However, none of the first eight teams went on to win the Mills Cup. In fact, only one club (1988 Lynchburg) advanced to the Mills Cup Finals.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Wednesday’s game will be broadcast live in the following ways:

Radio: 600 AM-WSJS
TV: MiLB.tv
Online: wsjs.com and wsdash.com/broadcast
Phone/Tablet: TuneIn App.

The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:10 p.m., with the first pitch at 6:30 p.m. from BB&T Ballpark.

– Brian

Game #138 Preview – Dash at Frederick

Game #138 – Road Game #68
Winston-Salem Dash (44-23, 74-63) at Frederick Keys (32-37, 64-75)
Monday, September 7 – 2 p.m.
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium (Frederick, Md.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

The Dash conclude the regular season with a chance to claim their four-game series at Frederick. Winston-Salem will open its playoff run on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. inside BB&T Ballpark, and fans can follow along with all the action at #PlayoffDash Central.

The Dash clinched their best half ever with Sunday's win at Frederick (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

The Dash clinched their best half ever with Sunday’s win at Frederick (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Eddy Alvarez – SS
Keon Barnum – DH
Nick Basto – 3B
Nolan Earley – RF
Brett Austin – C
Michael Danner – LF
Cleuluis Rondon – 2B
T.J. Williams – 1B
Spencer Adams – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Thanks to Sunday’s narrow win, Winston-Salem clinched the best half in the Dash era (2009-present). Winston enters the regular season’s final day with a league-best 44-23 (.657) record. The club’s 30-40 (.429) showing in half one represents the worst half since the nickname change.
  • On Sunday, Jordan Guerrero surrendered just two hits in five and two-thirds innings en route to the win. He whiffed seven of the first eight men he retired. James Dykstra escaped a minor jam in the sixth, left a man aboard in the seventh and eighth and stranded the bases loaded in the ninth for his first professional save.
  • The Dash have won 13 of their last 16 contests dating back to August 20, the only day this half that Winston-Salem did not possess at least a share of first place. The Dash have outscored their opponents 68-39 during these 16 games.
  • In particular, the Dash have enjoyed tremendous success away from home as of late. Winston has won eight of its last 10 road tilts. After going 13-22 (.371) on the road in half one, the Dash own a 22-10 (.688) mark since the All-Star break.
  • Winston-Salem continued its excellence in close games. The Dash are a league-best 17-3 in one-run contests since the All-Star break (7-11 in the first half). Winston also stands 33-15 in games decided by three runs or less. The club was 18-25 in such situations during the first half.
  • With a win Monday, the Dash would post the best record in a half in the Carolina League since Kinston’s 47-23 (.671) effort in the first half of 2006.
  • Former Winston-Salem outfielder Jose Martinez has clinched the batting title in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. He is hitting .388 in 97 games with Omaha (Kansas City Royals).

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Monday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn App. The Pregame Dash will begin at 1:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 2 p.m. from Maryland.

– Brian

Game #137 Preview – Dash at Frederick

Game #137 – Road Game #67
Winston-Salem Dash (43-23, 73-63) at Frederick Keys (32-36, 64-74)
Sunday, September 6 – 6 p.m.
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium (Frederick, Md.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

The Dash and Keys meet in the penultimate game of the regular season on Sunday night. Winston-Salem is destined for the Carolina League Playoffs, while Frederick has been eliminated from the postseason conversation.

Jordan Guerrero will make his second start since coming off the disabled list (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Jordan Guerrero will make his second start since coming off the disabled list (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – DH
Omar Narvaez – C
Nolan Earley – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Michael Danner – LF
Jordan Guerrero – LHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Frederick starter Luis Gonzalez entered Saturday with the second-worst ERA (7.11) among full-season Minor League pitchers, but he tossed five frames and gave up just the Dash’s lone run (Michael Danner RBI 1B). Jimmy Yacabonis blanked Winston-Salem over three innings before Stefan Crichton struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his second High-A save.
  • Even with Saturday’s loss, the Dash have won 12 of their last 15 contests dating back to August 20, the only day this half that Winston-Salem has not possessed at least a share of first place. The Dash have outscored their opponents 67-39 during this span.
  • In particular, the Dash have experienced tremendous success away from home as of late. Winston-Salem has won seven of its last nine road tilts. After going 13-22 (.371) on the road in half one, the Dash boast a 21-10 (.677) mark since the All-Star break.
  • Danner has hit safely in five straight games and 11 of his last 12. In those 12 contests, Danner is hitting .356 (16-for-45). Two Winston-Salem hitters ended lengthy funks on Saturday. With a fourth-inning single, catcher Brett Austin snapped an 0-for-17 slump, while Cleuluis Rondon wrapped up an 0-for-30 drought with a double in the seventh.
  • The Dash are one win away from posting the best winning percentage in the Dash era (2009-present). This immediately follows a 30-40 first half that represents the worst since the name change.
  • The Dash’s three-run loss was their most lopsided loss since August 13 at Potomac (5-1). Since the All-Star break, the Dash are still 32-15 (.681) in games decided by three runs or less, including a 16-3 (.842) mark in one-run contests. Winston-Salem was 18-25 (.419) and 7-11 (.389) in such spots during the first half.
  • Saturday starter Yency Almonte, who did suffer his third High-A loss, whiffed seven in four and a third innings. Last Sunday against the Keys, Almonte logged a career-high 12 strikeouts in six frames.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Sunday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn App. The Pregame Dash will begin at 5:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 6 p.m. from Maryland.

– Brian

Game #136 Preview – Dash at Frederick

Game #136 – Road Game #66
Winston-Salem Dash (43-22, 73-62) at Frederick Keys (31-36, 63-74)
Saturday, September 5 – 6 p.m.
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium (Frederick, Md.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Winston-Salem stunned Frederick with four in the ninth to claim a 7-4 win in Friday’s series opener. The two clubs continue this four-game set, which wraps up the regular season.

Nick Basto's two-run double in Friday's ninth inning gave the Dash the lead for good (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Nick Basto’s two-run double in Friday’s ninth inning gave the Dash the lead for good (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Brett Austin – C
Nolan Earley – RF
Michael Danner – DH
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Yency Almonte – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • With two away in the ninth on Friday, Jake Peter singled, Trey Michalczewski coaxed a nine-pitch walk and Keon Barnum reached on an infield single to load the bases. Nick Basto walloped the first pitch he saw for a go-ahead two-run double, and Omar Narvaez followed with a two-run single to cap the scoring.
  • Entering Friday’s contest, Winston-Salem was 0-46 when trailing after eight innings. If you throw in seven-inning doubleheader games, the Dash were 0-51 when facing a deficit entering the final inning of regulation.
  • The club’s last such victory was June 2, 2014, when Tim Anderson swatted a two-run walk-off homer to defeat Lynchburg 6-5. Frederick was the only Carolina League club to own a perfect record when leading after eight frames before Friday night.
  • The Dash have won 12 of their last 14 contests dating back to August 20, the only day this half that Winston-Salem has not possessed at least a share of first place. The Dash have outscored their opponents 66-35 during this span. With a win Saturday, the Dash would match their best road win streak of the season (five games).
  • The Dash are one win away from posting the best winning percentage in the Dash era (2009-present). This immediately follows a 30-40 first half that represents the worst since the name change.
  • In his last start on Sunday at home against these Keys, right-hander Yency Almonte whiffed a career-high 12…His previous high-water mark for strikeouts was seven.
  • Brad Goldberg’s 11 saves are the most by a Dash pitcher since Taylor Thompson’s 12 in 2012.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn App. The Pregame Dash will begin at 5:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 6 p.m. from Maryland.

– Brian

Game #135 Preview – Dash at Frederick

Game #135 – Road Game #65
Winston-Salem Dash (42-22, 72-62) at Frederick Keys (31-35, 63-73)
Friday, September 4 – 7 p.m.
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium (Frederick, Md.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

The Dash wrapped up the Southern Division’s second-half championship with their 5-0 victory on Thursday at Wilmington. Winston-Salem begins the second leg of this regular season-ending road trip on Friday in Frederick.

Brandon Brennan makes his final regular season start on Friday at Frederick (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Brandon Brennan makes his final regular season start on Friday at Frederick (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Omar Narvaez – C
Michael Danner – RF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
T.J. Williams – DH
Brandon Brennan – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • On Thursday in Wilmington, Carson Fulmer struck out four in three frames. Brian Clark scattered five hits over his five shutout innings before Jake Cose submitted a perfect ninth. The Dash recorded their 14th shutout win of 2015, which trails only Potomac (15) in the Carolina League.
  • Not only did Winston-Salem earn its first division crown since the second half of the 2012 season, but the Dash have guaranteed that Game 1 of the Southern Division Championship Series will take place at BB&T Ballpark. This contest will start at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday before the best-of-three series shifts to Myrtle Beach on Thursday and Friday (both 7:05 p.m. starts).
  • Since becoming a charter member of the CL in 1945, Winston has qualified for the postseason 27 times. The franchise owns an even record in the playoffs (57-57), and it boasts more Mills Cups (11) than any other team in league history. The club’s last CL title came in 2003 as the Warthogs. This marks the fourth playoff journey for the club in the Dash era (2009-present).
  • For the first time since becoming the Dash, Winston-Salem has amassed seven sweeps in one half. The previous record was six, set in the first half of 2010 and matched in half one two years later. If the Dash snag at least two wins in this regular season-ending set at Frederick, they would post the best winning percentage in one half in Dash history.
  • Outfielder Nolan Earley has hit safely in six straight games and 12 of his last 15. In those 15 contests, the Anderson, Ind., native owns a .358 average (19-for-53) with 12 RBIs. Earley has logged two hits in three games in a row and five of his last eight. Since August 1, Earley is a .345 hitter after posting a .172 mark in July.
  • Winston-Salem’s bullpen has strung together 16 consecutive scoreless innings, all of which have come on this road trip. The Dash’s ‘pen amassed all three wins in the sweep of the Blue Rocks.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Friday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn App. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 7 p.m. from Maryland.

– Brian

Game #134 Preview – Dash at Wilmington

Game #134 – Road Game #64
Winston-Salem Dash (41-22, 71-62) at Wilmington Blue Rocks (22-41, 60-73)
Thursday, September 3 – 6:35 p.m.
Daniel S. Frawley Stadium (Wilmington, Del.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

The Dash and Wilmington Blue Rocks meet for the final time in the regular season on Thursday at 6:35 p.m., with Winston eyeing a series sweep. With a win and a Myrtle Beach loss, Winston-Salem would clinch its first Southern Division championship since the second half of the 2012 season.

Euclides Leyer tossed three perfect innings en route to a victory on Wednesday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Euclides Leyer tossed three perfect innings en route to a victory on Wednesday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

STARTING LINEUP:

Adam Engel – CF
Eddy Alvarez – SS
Jake Peter – 2B
Trey Michalczewski – 3B
Keon Barnum – 1B
Nick Basto – LF
Nolan Earley – RF
Brett Austin – C
T.J. Williams – DH
Carson Fulmer – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Three Winston-Salem hurlers combined to allow just one run on six hits in the Dash’s 2-1, 11-inning victory at Wilmington on Wednesday night. Spencer Adams tossed a career high-tying seven innings and gave up the Blue Rocks’ lone run. Euclides Leyer logged three perfect frames and whiffed five, including the first four he faced. Brad Goldberg collected his team-high 10th save by stranding a man at second in the 11th. He had a chance to lock down the save thanks to Adam Engel’s go-ahead RBI single in the top of the frame.
  • Both first-place Winston-Salem and second-place Myrtle Beach earned narrow victories, with the latter of the two nipping Potomac 4-2. Thus, the Dash’s division magic number dropped to two with five days left in the regular season. Winston-Salem leads Myrtle Beach by four games for the top spot in the second-half standings. If the Dash can earn the division crown, BB&T Ballpark would host Game 1 of the Southern Division Championship Series on Wednesday, September 9, at 6:30 p.m.
  • With a win Thursday, the Dash would clinch their seventh sweep of the second half. In the Dash era (2009-present), Winston-Salem has never amassed seven sweeps in a single half. This marks the third time that Winston has used the broom six times, joining the first half of the 2010 and 2012 seasons. Both of those clubs advanced to the Mills Cup Championship Series.
  • Not only can Winston-Salem make some history on Thursday, but the club has a chance to finish the best half in the Dash era. Winston boasts a 41-22 record, which calculates to a .651 winning percentage. Winston-Salem has clinched the fourth half in the Dash era with a winning percentage better than .600. They can post the best of the Dash era with three wins in their final five contests.
  • Following Thursday’s finale in Wilmington, the Dash head to Frederick for a four-game set to wrap up the regular season. Winston took three of four from the Keys at BB&T Ballpark last weekend. The Keys, who have been eliminated from the playoff picture, have claimed six of the first 10 meetings with the Dash at Nymeo Field.
  • Righty Frankie Montas, who pitched in Winston-Salem last year, made his MLB debut and twirled a perfect ninth for the White Sox on Wednesday in Minnesota.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Thursday’s game will be broadcast on 600 AM-WSJS and wsjs.com, along with the TuneIn App. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:20 p.m., with the first pitch at 6:35 p.m.

– Brian

Instead of choosing between dreams, Eddy Alvarez is living both

The North Carolina sun doesn’t as much shine as it does roast the landscape beneath. It’s another scorching August day in Winston-Salem, getting warmer and warmer as if somebody left the microwave on. But there’s Eddy Alvarez at home plate, early to the ballpark, taking some swings from the right side. He finishes those, grabs a new bat, morphs into a new stance and practices from the left side.

Alvarez may already have an Olympic silver medal, but he’d do just about anything to walk into a Major League clubhouse and see his name on a jersey hanging from a locker.

Baseball America calculates the chances of a signed draft pick making the majors at about 17 percent, meaning the odds are stacked against even the most talented of draftees. But what about for the 25-year-old Alvarez, who gave up baseball twice to pursue his Olympic dream of speed skating? And at what cost is a dream too expensive to believe in anymore?

(Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Eddy Alvarez quit baseball twice to focus on speed skating, but returned to the diamond in 2014. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

“It’s the dream I had since I was a little kid,” said Alvarez. “It was always to be an Olympic speed skater and a professional baseball player – And when I say professional baseball player, I mean make the big leagues.

“I don’t want that what-if factor. I’m one of those people that develop late, so what if these are my peak years in baseball? I would never know unless I put myself out there, and if I fail, I fail. But I’m definitely going to put in 100 percent, all my mind, my spirit, my soul into this game.”

Alvarez’s word should be taken seriously. After passing on a baseball scholarship to St. Thomas University (Fla.) following high school, Alvarez competed in the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships, winning a gold medal in 2009. However, he narrowly missed competing in the 2010 Olympics, and in an effort to give his ailing knees a rest, returned to baseball.

Even though he had not played baseball since graduating high school in 2008, the Miami, Fla., native immediately regained his timing, performing at an all-conference level in 2011 for Salt Lake Community College (Utah). Alvarez batted .311/.390/.478 with 16 doubles, two home runs and 46 RBIs in 63 games.

The switch to baseball, however, did not help his knees, and he underwent surgery in early 2012 to repair torn patellar tendons. Undeterred despite being immobile following the surgery for four weeks, Alvarez jumped into physical therapy, working his way back towards full strength. Less than a year after the surgery, Alvarez made the United States’ speed skating World Cup Team in December 2012. In 2014, he became the first Cuban-American male speed skater to make a U.S. Olympic team.

“It was an absolute honor,” Alvarez said. “I worked very hard for that moment and it really hit me when I was able to walk the Opening Ceremonies in the very front of the line.”

Eddy Alvarez won a silver medial in speed skating in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. (NBC6 South Florida)

Eddy Alvarez won a silver medial in speed skating in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. (NBC6 Miami)

Alvarez did more than just lead the U.S. at the Opening Ceremonies in Sochi; he won a silver medal in the 5,000 meter relay.

“It was such a relief because all I could think about on the podium was the amount of struggle I went through with all my injuries and my career switch and all the sacrifices my parents made,” said Alvarez. “It made it worth it.”

With the silver medal around his neck, Alvarez still has a piece of unfinished business: The dream of playing in the major leagues.

“In skating, I knew that 2014 was going to be it for me, Alvarez said. “I had my heart set on trying baseball again after.”

Alvarez signed with the Chicago White Sox in June of 2014 and again seemed to immediately have his timing down. With the Rookie-Level Arizona League White Sox and Low-A Kannapolis Intimidators, Alvarez raked to a .346/.433/.500 tune, smacking five home runs to go along with 26 RBIs, 32 runs scored and 34 stolen bases in 45 games.

However, picking up baseball again after three years was not nearly as easy as the numbers made it appear. The rigors of speed skating demanded that Alvarez train his lower body constantly for years, neglecting the upper body to keep weight off. Upon his return to baseball, Alvarez struggled at first to regain his old bat speed. Looking for an edge, he turned to his older brother Nick, who played in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization from 2000 through 2006, reaching as high as Double-A. Nick has helped reinforce Eddy’s dream.

“He’s awesome to have,” said Eddy. “He has seven years of minor league experience so I’m just kind of picking his brain, (seeing) how each level is and what I should expect in certain situations.”

Eddy has taken his play to another level this season, splitting the campaign between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. His 51 steals rank fifth in all of Minor League Baseball, a skill he credits to his time in speed skating.

(Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Eddy Alvarez start switch-hitting until his second go-around in baseball. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

“It’s just watching the game, watching for certain signs, what the catcher might do, what he might not do. (It’s the) same with the pitcher, if he sometimes quick pitches or whatnot,” Alvarez said. ” You’ve got to be up-to-date on what your opponent is doing. That’s something I also did in skating very well when it came to strategy in skating. It’s just a matter of watching and learning and seizing the opportunity.”

In order to have many opportunities to swipe bases, Alvarez has had to get on base often. He credits his mental hitting approach to his brother and stolen base prowess to speed skating. However, he can tally his ability to mash against both righties and lefties because of a willingness to listen and change. Prior to his second go-around in baseball at St. Thomas, Alvarez had hit strictly left-handed. However, at the suggestion of the coaching staff at St. Thomas, Alvarez gave switch-hitting a try.

The adjustment has proven to be invaluable. In 2015, Alvarez has batted .247/.430/.340 against righties, increasing that output to .294/.464/.437 against southpaws. It’s led to a combined .296/.414/.426 line this year.

“My college coach was like, ‘You ever thought of switch hitting,’ and I was like, ‘You know, I thought about it but I never really tried it,'” said Alvarez. “So that whole year I tried switch-hitting. And last year was my second year switch-hitting and this is my third year switch-hitting. You have two sides of the brain, everything works differently, it’s like two different people hitting. ”

Part of the reason switch-hitting may feel like two different styles to Alvarez is that, to him, it is. From the left side, he uses a black bat that he holds far away from his body, arms extended with the barrel pointed towards the sky blue canopy above. However, as a right-hand batter, Alvarez uses a different natural wood-colored bat, wrapping it around his back right shoulder.

Eddy Alvarez used a different bat from each side of the plate. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

Eddy Alvarez used a different bat from each side of the plate. (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash)

The two different stances evolved out of trying to be comfortable at each side of the plate. However, while Alvarez may look different prior to the pitch, the ball in flight to home plate shows two things: the same exact approach and swing path.

“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you why, I just fell into different stances and that’s where I feel the most comfortable,”  Alvarez said. “I still have the same approach (from both sides).”

Back at the ballpark, the sun starts to set in the North Carolina sky. The air is a tad cooler now, yet still relatively thick as fans stroll inside. Early work led right into batting practice, and now Alvarez is preparing for another game. It’s just one in a 140-game slog to the finish line of a long season, but who knows what impact it might have in continuing to climb higher in the White Sox system? One hit, one ground ball could make all the difference in improbably making a dream a reality.

At what price is a dream too expensive? A boy gets a wiffleball bat at three-year-old, goes roller skating at five, then dreams of playing in the Major Leagues and competing in the Olympics. Eddy Alvarez already has the silver medal. Can he live out the second dream?

– Scott

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