Results tagged ‘ Cyle Hankerd ’

And then there were two

Carolina LeagueLast season, Winston-Salem and Lynchburg emerged from winner-take-all Game 3s in the semifinals to punch their tickets to the Mills Cup Finals. Here in 2013, both Division Championship Series concluded in Game 2, but the playoffs have been packed with drama.

All four Carolina League playoff games have been decided in the last at-bat for the winning club. Plus, the margin was higher than one run at the start of only three of the 43 innings thus far this postseason.

Salem won a pair of 10-inning games over Myrtle Beach to clinch its first trip to the Mills Cup Finals since 2009, while the Pelicans lost in the Southern Division Championship Series for the third straight season.

In the Northern Division, Potomac rallied in the ninth inning of Game 1 before nipping Lynchburg in the 14th. One night later, the P-Nats walked off with a 3-2 win in the last of the ninth. Thus, Potomac can win its first CL crown since 2010. On the flip side, Lynchburg could not become the first franchise to repeat as Carolina League champions since 1999-2000 (Myrtle Beach).

While the Red Sox and P-Nats were advancing in the CL postseason, some Dash alumni shined elsewhere in Minor League Baseball’s postseason.

  • Last season, Chris Bassitt pitched the Dash to the Mills Cup Finals with a seven-inning gem. Yesterday, the righty went seven innings and punched out nine Smokies in Double-A Birmingham’s 3-1 win over Tennessee in Game 1 of the Southern League North Division Series.
  • Behind Bassitt’s huge effort, Trayce Thompson went yard and drove home two runs, and Cody Winiarski earned the save. In Game 2 of this best-of-five set, Chris Beck toes the rubber for the Barons tonight.
  • Veteran Cyle Hankerd, who was a key cog in the Dash’s offense a year ago, came up with the hit of the season for the Arkansas Travelers, the Angels’ Double-A affiliate in the Texas League. Hankerd’s three-run blast in the top of the ninth broke a 1-1 tie and propelled the Travs to a Game 2 victory over the Tulsa Drillers in the TL’s North Division Series. Hankerd and the Travelers now have a 2-0 series lead with the next three games all at home.

We will keep you posted on the MiLB playoffs throughout the month here on the Dash Board blog!

- Brian

Game 110 Preview – Dash vs. Wilmington

Game #110 – Home Game #56
Winston-Salem Dash (19-20, 57-52) vs. Wilmington Blue Rocks (18-21, 56-53)
Friday, August 2 – 7 p.m.
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

GAME BACKGROUND:

One night after a thrilling victory in 11 innings, Winston-Salem continues its three-game series against Wilmington. The Dash are 13-2 against the Blue Rocks thus far this season.

Jeremy Farrell went yard for the first time since June 6 in Thursday's win (Laura Marshall/W-S Dash).

Jeremy Farrell went yard for the first time since June 6 in Thursday’s win (Laura Marshall/W-S Dash).

STARTING LINEUP:

Micah Johnson – 2B
Joey DeMichele – SS
Chris Curley – 3B
Kevan Smith – C
Courtney Hawkins – CF
Rangel Ravelo – 1B
Jeremy Farrell – DH
Josh Richmond – RF
Grant Buckner – LF
Chris Beck – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • The Dash improved to 6-4 in extra-inning games this season, which is the third-best mark in the CL. Winston had not won an extra-inning affair when trailing after the ninth inning since July 8, 2012, when the Dash and Hillcats both scored in the 11th inning, which preceded Cyle Hankerd’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th.
  • Dash starter Chris Beck is the only CL pitcher with 10 wins. Among all High-A hurlers, Beck is tied for third in wins, two shy of the lead (Modesto’s Daniel Winkler, 12). The Jefferson, Ga., native also sits fourth on the circuit with a 2.84 ERA. He has not surrendered a run against the Blue Rocks in 17 innings over two starts.
  • Dash infielder Jeremy Farrell went yard in the second inning Thursday for the first time since the California-Carolina League All-Star Game in San Jose on June 18. It was Farrell’s first blast in a Carolina League game since June 6 at Salem, which was a span of 42 games without a home run.
  • Farrell went yard nine times prior to this drought. This dinger highlighted a multi-hit effort for Farrell, who had gone hitless in his last four games (0-for-9). Before that funk, he was 13-for-27 (.481) in his previous seven games.
  • Before last night’s seven-run output by the Blue Rocks, Winston-Salem pitching had held them to just 29 runs in the first 14 games of this season series. Wilmington has scored two runs or fewer in eight of these contests, while half of the Dash’s league-leading 10 shutouts have come against the Blue Crew.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

The Pregame Dash begins at 6:45 p.m., and fans can listen live here. Tonight’s game will also be streamed live on MiLB.tv.

- Brian

Spring Training Preparation

Pitchers and catchers may not report for a couple of weeks, and the spring training opener follows toward the end of February. However, tomorrow is the true beginning of spring training.

Tomorrow afternoon, the White Sox equipment truck departs for Glendale, Ariz.

Sure, this event is not quite the same as team workouts or exhibition games, but this 1,800-mile journey signals that baseball is not just a distant memory. It is on the horizon.

However, baseball is a 12-month responsibility for the players, and many Dash alums have been preparing since the fall. Here are some spring training-related tweets from the last few weeks.

The players have been gearing up to use the equipment that will begin the trip to spring training tomorrow. It’s a bit of a stretch, but baseball fans are happy about any signs that our national pastime is almost here. We’ll take it!

- Brian

Counting Down To The Home Opener

If you follow our social media accounts (especially our new Instagram feed), you have probably noticed that we have begun a countdown in advance of the Dash’s home opener Friday, April 12. We are now 86 days away from the first game at BB&T Ballpark in 2013.

We have spun each day in the countdown to something in Winston-Salem baseball history. Occasionally on the blog, we will rehash the recent numbers, and here is our first look back at the countdown.

100 – Instead of a stat, we provided the picture below (and here on Instagram).

100

99 – After missing the 2011 campaign due to injury, Kyle Bellamy returned to Winston-Salem at the beginning of 2012. Opponents hit just .182 against Bellamy in 99 at bats.

98 – Scott Snodgress dominated the Carolina League after a July promotion from Low-A Kannapolis. He posted a 4-0 record and a 1.50 ERA to go along with a 0.98 WHIP.

97 – Carlos Lee is one of two Winston-Salem alums who is both currently in the big leagues and has made an All-Star Game (Chris Sale is the other). Lee played with the Warthogs in 1997.

96 – In his MVP season of 2011, Ian Gac drove in 96 runs for the Dash.

The Spirits won the CL crown in 1993.

The Spirits won the CL crown in 1993.

95 – In 1995, the Winston-Salem franchise became the “Warthogs,” a nickname that stuck until the team became the Dash in 2009.

94 – All-Star Brady Shoemaker notched 94 hits in Winston-Salem before his midseason promotion to Double-A Birmingham.

93 – The Winston-Salem Spirits won the Carolina League title in 1993.

92 – From last season’s team, the only player who was born in 1992 was Carlos Sanchez, who proved to be one of the CL’s top prospects.

91 – The Carolina League rolled the Carolina California League 9-1 in the 2012 Midsummer Classic at BB&T Ballpark.

90 – Speaking of scores, the Dash took the deciding Game 3 of the Southern Division Championship Series 9-0 against Myrtle Beach.

89 – Brent Morel, who returned to Winston-Salem for a rehab assignment this season, wore number 8 while with the Dash in 2009.

88 – The CL’s MVP this season, Dash first baseman Dan Black, drove in 88 runs.

87 – Winston-Salem posted the best record in full-season minor league baseball last year (87-51).

86 – Cyle Hankerd mustered 86 hits in just 71 games with the Dash this past season.

Those are 15 of our Dash-themed numbers. Do you have any ideas for numbers 85 to 1? Let us know in the comments or via Twitter. Baseball will be back before you know it!

- Brian

Dash Top 10: #2 – Winston Clinches MiLB’s Top Mark

Raise your hand if you played for minor league baseball’s best team in 2012!

This is the ninth installment of the “Dash Top 10,” where we rehash the top 10 moments from the Dash’s historic 2012 season. Stay tuned to the Dash Board Blog for the top moment tomorrow.

Previous Top 10 Moments:
#10: Second-half clinch
#9: Hankerd’s walk-off

#8: 10-game win streak
#7: 5-run 9th sinks Salem
#6: Postseason awards
#5: First-half clinch
#4: MCCS Game 2 win
#3: SDCS-clinching victory

Moment #2 (September 2): The Dash clinch full-season minor league baseball’s best record on the regular season’s penultimate day.
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When Winston-Salem kicked off a four-game series with Carolina July 23, the club was a league-best 59-40-1. The Dash had already clinched a playoff spot thanks to a first-half championship. In other words, the season was already highly successful.

The Dash then elevated their 2012 efforts to another level. From July 23 to August 17, Winston-Salem posted a mark of 20-4 to rocket toward the top of full-season minor league baseball’s standings.

A three-game losing streak in late August allowed Low-A Asheville to seize the top spot with five games remaining. The Dash responded with three straight victories to lower their magic number to one with two games to go in the regular season.

On a Sunday afternoon at LewisGale Field, Winston-Salem squared off with first-half rival Salem with a chance to finish atop the standings. The Dash cruised to victory.

Winston plated a pair of runs in the first frame and never trailed. Both Cyle Hankerd and Kevan Smith drove home two runs. Starter Chris Bassitt twirled five shutout innings en route to the victory.

It was an emphatic win to earn a distinguished honor. Sure, the Dash were not in Double-A or Triple-A, but no team was better than Winston-Salem in record. No team was better at beating opponents on an equal playing ground than Winston-Salem.

The Dash became the first American League affiliate to post the best record in full-season minor league baseball since 2005. Winston-Salem recorded its second-best record since joining the CL as a charter member in 1945.

Obviously, it did not lead to a Mills Cup that everyone in the Triad wanted; however, only three of the last eight teams to finish with the best regular season record have taken home a championship.

For five months, the Dash were the best team in the minors. Even though Lynchburg claimed the Cup, Winston-Salem was the main story of the 2012 campaign, and a Sunday afternoon in front of a small crowd in the Roanoke Valley guaranteed it.

We will have reached the end of our Top 10 countdown tomorrow when we unveil the top moment of Winston-Salem’s 2012 season. You won’t want to miss it.

- Brian

Dash Top 10: #7 – 5-Run 9th Stuns Salem

Michael Earley recorded the walk-off hit August 14 against Salem (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

This is the fourth installment of the “Dash Top 10,” where we rehash the top 10 moments from the Dash’s historic 2012 season. Stay tuned to the Dash Board Blog for the rest of the series over the next two weeks.

Previous Top 10 Moments:
#10: Second-half clinch
#9: Hankerd’s walk-off

#8: 10-game win streak

Moment #7 (August 14): Winston-Salem scores five in the ninth to walk off with a 10-9 win over Salem.
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In the first half of the season, the Dash and Salem Red Sox waged quite a battle for the Southern Division championship. Winston-Salem outlasted the Sox despite struggling against Salem in head-to-head matchups.

The second half was a much different story even though both teams endured many promotions to Double-A. Winston remained atop the circuit, while Salem sunk to the Southern Division’s basement.

With the playoffs three weeks away, these two teams played in a game that meant very little in the grand scheme of the playoff chase. Salem was mere days away from official elimination, while the Dash could only add one home game to their postseason schedule with a division crown.

Still, baseball has a way of making the ordinary extraordinary, and game 121 for the Dash proved to be special.

For eight and a half innings, Salem controlled the contest. The Red Sox led 6-0 through six innings and 9-5 entering the home half of the ninth, which is when the magic happened.

After a Juan Silverio leadoff home run, Daniel Wagner followed with a bunt single, and Keenyn Walker drew a free pass. Two batters later, Brandon Short pulled the Dash within a run thanks to a two-run double.

Following Dan Black’s well-struck fly out, Cyle Hankerd delivered a two-out double off the wall in center to push across the tying run.

On the next pitch, Michael Earley laced a single to right-center, and Hankerd rumbled around third to beat Shannon Wilkerson’s throw and complete the Dash’s most improbable comeback of 2012.

The Dash’s season featured 90 total victories, but this one was among the best. It continued Winston’s push for the minors’ top record, while Salem suffered one of its most deflating losses during a terrible second half.

We will present the Dash’s sixth-best moment from the 2012 campaign tomorrow. This is the only moment that did not technically take place on the field. Talk to you then.

- Brian

Dash Top 10: #9 – Hankerd’s Walk-Off

Cyle Hankerd hit the Dash’s lone walk-off home run this season (Dan Barber/W-S Dash).

This is the second installment of the “Dash Top 10,” where we rehash the top 10 moments from the Dash’s historic 2012 season. Stay tuned to the Dash Board Blog for the rest of the series over the next two weeks.

Previous Top 10 Moments:
#10: Second-half clinch

Moment #9 (July 8): Cyle Hankerd’s walk-off home run caps six-run comeback against Lynchburg.
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The Dash amassed 40 comeback victories during the 2012 season, but no battle back was bigger than Winston-Salem’s effort July 8 against Lynchburg.

The Hillcats enjoyed a 7-1 advantage at the game’s midway point, but the Dash rallied within one entering the seventh. However, Lynchburg’s three-run seventh extended the lead to 11-7.

In the home half of the eighth, the Dash scored four times and only mustered one hit, a three-run blast by Michael Earley, to knot the score at 11 apiece.

Both teams traded runs in the 11th frame, with Marcus Semien saving the Dash with a solo homer to kick off the bottom half.

Finally, after nearly four hours of baseball, Cyle Hankerd needed just one pitch to swing the Dash past the ‘Cats in the 12th. Hankerd clubbed a towering fly to left, and outfielder Bobby Stevens never saw the ball. It didn’t matter, because Hankerd’s big fly, which you can relive here, sailed to the left field berm and sent the BB&T Ballpark crowd home happy.

The Dash finished the regular season with the best record in full-season minor league baseball, and this 13-12 victory was one of the most improbable victories Winston-Salem snagged en route to that prestigious claim.

Stay tuned for the Dash’s eighth-best moment from the 2012 campaign, which prompted the awesome hashtag #DashWinStreakFacts. Talk to you then.

- Brian

Playoff Perspective – Game 3

Scott Snodgress will pitch with the Dash facing elimination again Wednesday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

In another tightly-contested playoff game, the Dash dropped a tough one to the Hillcats 1-0 Tuesday night in Lynchburg. As a result, Winston-Salem faces elimination Wednesday night in Game 4. Here is tonight’s analysis.

PLAYOFF PERSPECTIVE:

  • Let’s get this out of the way first. This series is not over.
  • OK, now that I said that, let’s also say this. Winston-Salem needs to find its offensive prowess from the regular season, or the series will be over. Obviously, Lynchburg’s pitching staff deserves plenty of credit to holding the Dash to seven runs on 17 hits in the first three games of this series. However, the Dash had spurts against every team during the regular season.
  • Lynchburg starter Gus Schlosser turned in 15 scoreless innings during his two playoff starts. Winston-Salem swingers were off balance all night, and that continued when Ryne Harper and Juan Jaime entered out of the bullpen. Only Marcus Semien had more than one hard-hit ball during Game 3.
  • Throw out their 9-0 win over Myrtle Beach in Game 3 of the Southern Division Championship Series, and the Dash have only mustered 12 runs in five playoff games. Pitching tends to be more valuable than hitting during the postseason, but this is still very surprising. Winston’s offense has been productive since the season opener more than five months ago.
  • The question moving into Game 4 is simple: does Carolina League Manager of the Year Tommy Thompson tweak the lineup? Outside of a shuffle between catchers Kevan Smith and Mike Blanke along with Smith and Cyle Hankerd’s switch in the order, Thompson has been consistent with his lineup decisions. It will be a fascinating decision for a man who has seemingly pushed all the right buttons during the 2012 campaign. This choice may ultimately define the season.
  • Even though the Dash face elimination Wednesday, fans have to feel good based on what Scott Snodgress and Chris Bassitt did in the SDCS. Those two starters held the Pelicans to three combined runs in the final two games of that set. They know exactly what this situation is like because they dealt with it less than a week ago.
  • Winston dropped to 4-7 following a scheduled off day this season. Fortunately, there are no more off days this season.
  • The Mills Cup Championship Series has not seen a winner-take-all Game 5 since 2005. This league is due for one, and the Dash are well-equipped to pull off the feat.

Keep the faith. Tomorrow is another day. Talk to you then.

- Brian

A Second Wake Up Call?

Was this moment the turning point in the Mills Cup Finals? (Dan Barber/W-S Dash).

If something isn’t broken, why fix it?

Maybe that was the mentality for the Dash in the Mills Cup Championship Series after a strange but effective route to a Southern Division Championship Series triumph against Myrtle Beach.

Against the Pelicans, Winston-Salem mustered only two runs in the set’s first 14 innings. With nine outs remaining in Game 2, the Dash were down by one with their season on the line. Winston’s offense woke up to the tune of three runs in the seventh to even the series and a combined nine tallies in the second and third frames of the winner-take-all Game 3 clash.

The next night, the Dash turned in their second straight one-run performance in a playoff series opener. In Game 2, Lynchburg held a 3-1 lead entering the sixth inning. This time around, elimination wasn’t a possibility, but going down two games with three road games remaining is as close as you can get in a best-of-five set.

Once again, Winston-Salem’s bats woke up. Three runs in the sixth, capped off by Kevan Smith’s two-run bomb to give the Dash the lead, ultimately tilted the momentum in the way of the home team.

For the second time in four days, the Dash stormed back for a Game 2 victory they had to have. Sunday’s win doesn’t mean Winston-Salem will win the series, but it likely kept the club afloat. Now, it comes down to a best-of-three in Lynchburg for the Mills Cup.

Sure, Winston-Salem will have to overcome plenty of obstacles for a Carolina League crown. The Dash went just 4-6 in Lynchburg during the regular season. The Hillcats will send the circuit’s Pitcher of the Year, righty Gus Schlosser, to the mound tomorrow night. And, of course, Lynchburg is a really good team.

However, the Dash have plenty going in their favor:

  • Smith is hitting the ball as well as anyone has over a week-long stretch in the Carolina League this season.
  • Chris Curley is the best nine-hole hitter in the CL right now, and it isn’t close.
  • Keenyn Walker and Daniel Wagner (who is still working hard on this off day) are setting the table for the heart of Winston-Salem’s order.
  • Marcus Semien, with a go-ahead homer, a go-ahead two-run double and an insurance homer in this postseason, has been extremely clutch for the Dash.
  • Courtney Hawkins, with an RBI in four of the five postseason contests, hasn’t been too shabby on that front, either. This kid is for real.
  • Dan Black is oh so due for a big game.
  • So is Cyle Hankerd.
  • Tuesday’s starter Erik Johnson should have had a no-hit bid through six innings in Game 1 of the SDCS Wednesday against Myrtle Beach.
  • Winston’s final two starters–Scott Snodgress and Chris Bassitt–shined in round one with the Dash’s collective back against the wall.
  • Every member of the Dash’s bullpen, which has allowed just one earned run in 16.1 innings in the playoffs, will be available for Game 3.

The Hillcats are good, but so is Winston-Salem. At the beginning of the season, Dash fans would’ve loved the idea of needing two wins in three tries to win a Mills Cup. That’s what the assignment is for the Dash, and for the reasons above and many others, this club has a great chance to get it done.

- Brian

Playoff Perspective – Game 2

Winston-Salem rallied for a thrilling 5-4 victory over Lynchburg in Game 2 of the Mills Cup Championship Series Sunday afternoon at BB&T Ballpark. First off, hear from the man who gave the Dash their first lead in the series–catcher Kevan Smith.

Now, it’s time for our postgame analysis.

PLAYOFF PERSPECTIVE:

  • Wow. Once again, the Dash’s collective back was against the wall in a Game 2, and this offense found a way to battle back for a narrow win. After five frustrating innings of offense, Smith, Daniel Wagner and Keenyn Walker came up with huge hits in the sixth, and Marcus Semien’s solo shot in the eighth proved to be the difference in the game. This offense, despite struggling at times in the playoffs, is so good.
  • Everyone knew Dash skipper Tommy Thompson was going to be the Carolina League’s Manager of the Year, and he pushed the right button today when he submitted his lineup card. Winston’s catcher had hit in the seven hole in all four previous postseason contests, but Thompson switched Smith with Cyle Hankerd. Sure enough, Smith’s turn came around when the Dash needed a hit, and the former Pittsburgh star came through in a big way.
  • As for Semien’s homer, credit the former sixth-round pick for coming up with the first run scored against Lynchburg reliever John Cornely at the High-A level. Semien is only 3-for-18 in the playoffs, but those three hits have been huge: solo homer in the first inning of Game 2 of the SDCS, game-winning two-run double in that same game and this homer today. Semien is a clutch player.
  • How important has Chris Curley been to this playoff run? He is 8-for-16 with four runs scored, and the late-season acquisition made the defensive play of the game in the seventh. Curley, who was playing in on the grass, stabbed a Nick Ahmed liner and doubled off a runner at second to end the threat.
  • Starter Justin Collop and reliever Taylor Thompson turned in gritty efforts Sunday, and both Max Peterson and Kevin Vance continued to pitch well out of the bullpen. All in all, a solid day for Winston’s pitching staff.
  • Thank goodness Andrelton Simmons will be heading back to Atlanta tomorrow, according to multiple reports. It is incredible that this young man played in the CL last year. His ninth-inning double was one of the hardest-hit balls I’ve seen this year.
  • Series tied at one game apiece. Momentum-shifting Game 3 on the horizon. Erik Johnson versus Gus Schlosser. It doesn’t get much better than that, and it’s 47 hours away.

The Dash and Hillcats have tomorrow off, but the Dash Board blog will be packed with more #Dash12 coverage in advance of Game 3 Tuesday. Talk to you then.

- Brian

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