News of the day … and Alumni Update

First, and this will be mentioned in the Alumni Update portion of the program, but former Osprey Derek Eitel (2010) will make the start for  Triple-A Reno tonight at Sacramento. It’s the second time the Aces have used Eitel in a spot situation.

Now, on to the show … so to speak.

The Skinny: The Osprey continue their four-game series with the Casper Ghosts tonight, as they seek their fourth win in their last five games overall, and will be seeking their fifth win in their last six tries at home.

Last Time Out: The 2,116 fans in attendance at Ogren Park Allegiance Field on Thursday had plenty to cheer for as the Osprey took down the Casper Ghosts, 12-3. Jon Griffin had three hits, scored three times and drove in three runs, with a three-run home run that capped off a four-run seventh inning, and the Osprey scoring. Missoula (18-12) used the win and a 6-5 Billings loss at Orem to push their lead in the Pioneer League North Division to three games over the Mustangs, and four games over both Great Falls and Helena, who also dropped games on Thursday. The Osprey finished with 14 hits, including three by Eric Groff, who extended his current hitting streak to nine games and raised his batting average to a season-best .350. Justin Bianco and Tom Belza each added a pair of hits and two RBIs, Josh Parr had two hits and a RBI, while Chris Ellison and Ryan Court each added a base hit for Missoula. Raymond Hernandez (4-0) pitched five solid innings to pick up the win, as Osprey pitchers held the Ghosts to six hits on the night. Dexter Price allowed just a hit and a run in three innings of work, while Matt Sample worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the game.

The streak continues … : Eric Groff extended his current hitting streak to nine straight games, and he showed signs of being locked in on Thursday night, collecting three hits in five trips to the plate. During the nine-game streak, Groff is 17-for-38 at the plate (.447), with three doubles, a triple, four home runs and 12 RBIs. It was also his fifth multi-hit game in his last nine games. He also kept up his torrid July, hitting .400 for the month (16 games) It’s also not Groff’s longest streak of the season – he had a 10-game hitting run from June 23-July 6.

Tidbits: The Osprey are 14-5 in July, the best record in the Pioneer League, and have hit 26 home runs in the month … The Osprey are 12-6 in games decided by three or more runs … What influence does having Frank Santana and Matt Sample at the back end of games create? Game Over, almost – Missoula is 17-1 when leading after eight innings … Eric Groff also has a 14-game road hitting streak still in effect, the longest such streak in the league at the moment.

On the Mound Today: Missoula will send out right-hander Robby Rowland, who is looking to find some sort of groove in what has been a rough month for the former third-round pick. Rowland (1-2, 7.71) has been hit around since his first start of the season, and has not pitched the same since suffering concussion-like symptoms after getting hit in the face with an errant toss during pitcher’s early work on June 23, and missing a start following that episode. He has allowed at least five earned runs in each of his last four starts.  The Ghosts will counter tonight with right-hander Danny Winkler, who will pitch against the Osprey for the first time this season. Winkler (1-0, 4.29) has fanned 21 batters in 21 innings of work, and the 20th round pick by the Colorado Rockies out of Central Florida has allowed opponents to hit at a .294 clip so far this season.

Osprey Alumni Update/Minor League Report:
The AZL D-backs (9-15) had Thursday off.

The DSL D-backs (17-28) did not report on their scheduled game with the DSL Rockies on Thursday.

Yakima (12-22) shut out Boise on Thursday, 4-0. Alex Capaul (2011) went five innings, scattering five hits and collecting five strikeouts to pick up the win on the mound. Former Osprey relievers Justin Albert (2010), Sammy De Los Santos (2009-10) and Randy Hamrick (2010) held the Hawks to just one hit over the final four innings to complete the shutout.

South Bend (11-15, 45-50) managed to collect an 8-6 win over Clinton on Thursday. Matt Helm (2009-10) had two doubles and four RBIs to pace the Silver Hawks at the plate, and back the pitching of Jeff Shields (2010), who picked up the win on the mound. Kable Hogben (2009) pitched two innings of one-hit relief, while Eury De La Rosa (2009) pitched the ninth and collected his second save of the season.

Visalia (11-16, 42-54) lost to Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday, 6-2. Eric Smith (2009) allowed just two earned runs in six innings of work, but suffered the loss, dropping his record to 3-11 on the season. Keon Broxton drove in a run, while fellow 2009 teammates Chris Owings and Bobby Borchering each collected a base hit, as did 2008 Osprey alum Rossmel Perez.

Mobile (21-6, 59-38) is playing great baseball at the moment, winning its fourth straight game with a 9-3 win over Birmingham on Thursday. For the first time since very early in the season, Paul Goldschmidt (2009) has dropped below the .300 mark, with a 1-for-4 performance that included two runs scored, two RBIs (he now has 86 for the season) and three strikeouts. Adam Eaton (2010), Taylor Harbin (2007) and Jake Elmore (2008) each had a base hit and a run scored for the BayBears, while Yonata Ortega (2007) pitched two scoreless innings of relief in his BayBears debut.

Reno (60-37) continues to have the best record in the Pacific Coast League, winning its ninth game in 10 tries on Thursday with an 11-4 win over Fresno. Jordan Norberto (2006) pitched two innings of relief to finish off the win for the Aces.

Schedule:
AAA Reno at Sacramento – Derek Eitel (2010) will be promoted to Reno to make the start for the Aces.
AA Mobile vs. Birmingham
A Adv. Visalia vs. Rancho Cucamonga
A South Bend vs. Clinton – Bradin Hagens (2009) will get the start for the Silver Hawks.
SS-A Yakima at Boise
AZL D-backs at AZL Giants
DSL D-backs at DSL Reds

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