Weekend Cleaning: Dash swept by Woodpeckers on Saturday

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — It was a rough day at the plate and on the mound for the Dash, and as you might be able to guess, two negatives did not form a positive and the Dash were swept by the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, dropping the final game in the set 6-2.

The first three Winston-Salem pitchers to throw on Saturday had pretty terrible outings, and the last two somehow escaped that bug. Konnor Pilkington, last year’s third-round draft pick, pitched very well for Kannapolis this season but hasn’t regained that form since being promoted to the Dash in mid-May. He’s now thrown nine games at the level, and he’s given up five or more earned runs in five or fewer innings three times, and three runs in four innings twice. Not that there haven't been peeks at what a Pilkington at the top of his game is capable of — his best start this season remains May 19, when he went six full, gave up only three hits and no runs, walked two and struck out 12.

But that form wasn’t on display today. Today, Pilkington struggled with command and efficiency. This all came to a head in a three-run third inning that took 30 pitches to get through. It all went downhill from a leadoff walk — a single followed, then a groundout that advanced both runners, then a Corey Julks single scored Ruben Castro from third for the first Woodpeckers run of the game. Pilkington walked another batter, then allowed a sacrifice fly to drive in a run and another RBI single. Both walks of the inning came with full counts. It wasn’t the worst start, and it could have gone much more poorly, but it was still less than ideal.

Kevin Escorcia relieved him to start the fifth and struggled through the inning, giving up back-to-back doubles and stranding a two-out walk. Jake Elliott, freshly returned from a very quick cup of coffee (cup of instant? cup of lemonade?) with Birmingham, also had trouble in his inning, the sixth. He hit a batter with a pitch and walked one before giving up a double of his own, scoring both runners and putting the score at its final form, 6-2. Escorcia took 28 pitches (18 strikes) to get through his inning, and Elliott took 30 (15 strikes).

To salvage the day, Bennett Sousa and Andrew Perez came in and were both excellent, Sousa especially. If Sousa is being handled the same way Vince Arobio has been, he could find himself with Birmingham before the month is up. He needed just seven pitches in the seventh inning, then struck out the side around a single and stolen base in the eighth. Perez, who, like Sousa and like Arobio, dominated Low-A ball, has barely stumbled at the new level. The ninth inning of today’s game was also Perez’s ninth with the Dash, and while he’s given up three earned runs total, he gave up none today.

It was another one of those days where the Dash barely reached base and, when they did, couldn’t do a lot with it. Zach Remillard walked with one out in the second and made it all the way to third before he didn’t score. In the fifth, JJ Muno led off with a single, but was picked off. In the sixth, Mitch Roman hit a leadoff single, and stayed at first for the next three outs. In the seventh, Craig Dedelow and Carlos Perez both singled to start the inning, but neither scored.

Runs did cross the plate, though, even if they were too few in number to catch up to the Woodpeckers. Tyler Frost was today’s top performer, muscling a home run over the Dash’s short right field wall for the first Dash hit and run of the game with two outs in the third. It was his ninth home run of the season. Their only other run came in the fourth. Jameson Fisher walked, stole second (his fifth steal), then made it to third on a passed ball, the classic no-offense offense. Remillard drove him in on a sacrifice fly. Dedelow did his best to keep things going, hitting his fifth triple of the season at about 200 mph, but was stranded at third. Dedelow was the only batter to reach more than once. Steele Walker, who's likely to soon be heading to Birmingham to try to fit the Luis-Robert-shaped hole his promotion to Charlotte will leave behind, went hitless for the second straight game.

The Dash, happy to see the Woodpeckers headed out of town, turn their energies towards the Frederick Keys at 2 pm on Sunday.

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