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Link Report for Thurs. 8/9 - Final Update Focuses on LaPorta

Mass Haas

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Thursday's Daily Menu:


All times Central; pitchers subject to change --


Nashville: Idle


Huntsville: LHP Derek Miller at home vs. Birmingham (White Sox), 6:50 PM pre-game; 7:05 gametime


Audio link:



Brevard County: TBD at Fort Myers (Twins), 5:50 pre-game, 6:05 gametime


Audio link:



NOTE: This link is for the Miracle's broadcast team.


West Virginia: RHP Alex Periard at home vs. Savannah (Mets), 5:55 PM pre-game, 6:05 gametime


Audio link (game will also archive at this link):



Helena: RHP R.J. Seidel returns to the starting rotation at Orem (Angels), 7:50 PM pre-game, 8:05 gametime


Audio link (game will also archive at this link):



Arizona: TBD at the Royals' complex in Surprise, 7:00 PM local time in Arizona, 9:00 Central; never any audio for Arizona Rookie League games

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Follow Thursday's action as it happens:

Here's what you do, right click on each of the links below and choose "Open in New Window". Choose "Log". While you're listening to your minor league game of choice (or watching/listening to the big league Crew when they are playing), simply refresh your game log browsers every so often.






Brevard County:




West Virginia:











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Standings through Wednesday's action:


Arizona League Standings:



 Pacific Coast League (AAA) - PCL American North Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Nashville 71 47 .602 - 37-17 34-30 L1 Iowa 65 54 .546 6.5 39-25 26-29 W1 Omaha 59 60 .496 12.5 38-21 21-39 L1 Memphis 48 71 .403 23.5 26-34 22-37 L1 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

 Southern League (AA) - SOU North Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Huntsville 29 17 .630 - 14-7 15-10 W7 Chattanooga 26 20 .565 3.0 14-11 12-9 W3 Tennessee 24 22 .522 5.0 17-9 7-13 W2 Carolina 22 24 .478 7.0 14-11 8-13 L1 West Tenn 18 28 .391 11.0 9-16 9-12 L2 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

 Florida State League (A+) - FSL East Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Brevard County 25 18 .581 - 15-9 10-9 L1 St. Lucie 21 23 .477 4.5 9-13 12-10 L1 Jupiter 19 23 .452 5.5 10-9 9-14 L1 Palm Beach 20 25 .444 6.0 11-15 9-10 L1 Daytona 18 28 .391 8.5 10-16 8-12 L5 Vero Beach 11 31 .262 13.5 6-16 5-15 L1 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

 South Atlantic League (A) - SAL Northern Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hickory 29 17 .630 - 16-9 13-8 W3 Lakewood 23 21 .523 5.0 13-10 10-11 W1 Lake County 22 22 .500 6.0 10-14 12-8 W1 Delmarva 22 23 .489 6.5 9-15 13-8 W4 Greensboro 21 25 .457 8.0 13-7 8-18 W1 West Virginia 20 26 .435 9.0 11-9 9-17 W1 Lexington 19 27 .413 10.0 12-11 7-16 L5 Hagerstown 14 31 .311 14.5 9-15 5-16 L1 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

 Pioneer League (R+) - PIO North Division Standings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Team W L PCT GB HOME ROAD STREAK ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Great Falls 6 3 .667 - 2-0 4-3 L1 Billings 5 4 .556 1.0 2-1 3-3 W3 Missoula 5 4 .556 1.0 4-2 1-2 W1 Helena 2 7 .222 4.0 2-5 0-2 L6 

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Only the 5th inning in Huntsville, and Hernan Iribarren is already 3-for-4 with two triples and a double, a stolen base, four RBI, and is now batting over .300.

The ultra-impressive Stars lead 10-3.

After rotating mascots for a bit, Homer and the Stars have earned the right to grace the Link Report posts for a while -- until the Stars lose, anyway http://static.yuku.com/v2//domainskins/bypass/img/smileys/smile.gif --

Homer the Polecat (skunk) was born in 1995 after skunks were seen coming out from behind the outfield wall and running past the outfielders. The players are very grateful to have Homer close by instead of the skunks that preceeded him!! Homer resides behind the center field wall and loves to participate in his favorite promotion, the BASE RACE. Unfortunately, Homer is 0-585 against the fans here at Joe Davis Stadium in the nightly run around the bases.

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Final: Fort Myers (Twins) 6, Brevard County 4

Brevard County Box Score:

Lorenzo Cain 3-for-5 including a double; Cole Gillespie doubles and walks; SS Yohannis Perez with only his 4th error in 42 games at Brevard; reliever Josh Wahpepah has allowed only one earned run in his last 17.1 IP...




Brevard County Game Log:

Starter Rafael Lluberes was your "TBD" starter, with an uneven performance, although a Cain error in right field really hurt in the first inning, as did Perez' error in the fifth -- in between those innings, wow; potentially huge Manatee rally in the 8th fizzled at just one run...



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Final: Savannah (Mets) 6, West Virginia 4


West Virginia Site Game Summary:


Power Lose Early Lead


Brent Brewer and Steve Chapman homered in the first two innings of Thursday's game at Appalachian Power Park to give the Power a 3-0 lead, but the Savannah Sand Gnats rallied back and outscored the Power 6-1 the rest of the way to take the second game of the series 6-4.


Brewer's home run was a solo shot in the bottom of the first, it was his tenth of the year and his fourth over the last week. Chapman's homer was a two-run blast in the second inning, and it was his 19th, one shy of the franchise record. The Sand Gnats got on the board in the top of the fourth inning on Francisco Pena's solo home run.


Savannah did most of their damage in the fifth inning where they scored three times to take the lead. Joe Holden hit a two-run home run to tie the game and Jonathan Sanchez ripped an RBI single to plate the final run of the inning. Holden struck again in the sixth inning with an RBI triple and the Sand Gnats scored their final run on Pena's single in the sixth. The Power plated their final run on Chapman's RBI groundout in the ninth inning. The Power had the tying run at the plate when Andy Bouchie ended the game as he smashed a one-hopper that was handled by third baseman Leivi Ventura.


Jonathan Castillo (4-3) got the win, allowing three runs on five hits with four strikeouts over six innings and retired the last ten batters he faced. David Koons (5) got the save and Alex Periard (5-6) was tagged with the loss after surrendering four runs on eleven hits through five innings.

The Power fell to 68-46 overall and 20-26 in the second half, while the Sand Gnats improved to 35-80 overall and 15-39 in the second half with the win. Andrew Lefave, Taylor Green and Brent Brewer all had two hits for the Power.


The Power will continue the four game series with Savannah Friday night. The Power will start right hander Chris Toneguzzi (4-3, 6.07) and the Sand Gnats will counter with right hander Greg Mullens (4-3, 4.38). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM (6:05 Central).


West Virginia Box Score:

Alex Periard got much too much of the plate tonight, but coming into the game he had only allowed 75 hits and 20 walks in 84 innings; don't look now, but Charlie Fermaint's lost season is spiraling again, now just 7-for-his-last-40; when doesn't Andrew Lefave have two hits? Nice to see Taylor Green still keeping his OPS north of .900 with a second consecutive two-hit game...




West Virginia Game Log:



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As always, I love listening to Pioneer League baseball.


R.J. Seidel goes 3 strong innings, with Jose Garcia coming on in relief. Seidel gave up one hit, to the first batter he faced, and quickly settled down to cruise through his start. He really made quick work of the Owlz, who boast a few of the league's best hitters.


Eric Farris is really hitting the ball much better. I was reminded earlier this week just how good he has been with a wood bat when I noticed he was named to the All-League team at 2B last summer while playing in the Cape Cod League. Helena announcer Steve Wendt just commented how Farris and Wheeler are easily the best defensive 2B and 3B in the Pioneer this league.


Farris may have been overdrafted a little, but the Brewers are really loaded at 2B at every single level (Crabbe, Iribarren, Bell, Green, Farris).

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Helena up 5-0 after four, but Caleb Gindl nights off are sad...

18-year-old RHP Joel Morales of Puerto Rico hoping to impress Brewerfan poster "Boy Jeenius" at the Arizona Rookie game tonight -- Jeenius, we guarantee there will be no competition for foul balls. Looking forward to that report, that must be one of the most unique experiences you can have related to an affiliated professional organization, literally less than 20 in attendance for nearly each and every game...

Will catch you all in the AM...

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The Helena announcer noted at the beginning of the game that Gindl was a late scratch due to illness, the same illness that seems to be sweeping through the H-Crew clubhouse, which is why Wilson started the game in LF (he was supposed to start at 1B).


Although I do share your sadness.

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Regarding the Wheeler/Farris on defense comments...Farris really is an excellent defensive 2B. He gets to way more balls than the average PL 2Bman and also is very steady on your run-of-the-mill plays. I don't know that he'll hit for enough power to ever make the show (especially given how hard it is for 2B prospects generally), but there is no question he is the best defensive 2B I have seen in the Pioneer League for several years.


I think the jury is still out on Zealous Wheeler--he makes some really good plays (and even played SS a few nights ago) but he also botches some very routine grounders. The last home game he was only given 1 E, but it should have been 2--and both on routine plays. Given that, I'd have a tough time calling him the best defensive 3B in the league right now, though both he and Farris are among my favorite players on the team.


Speaking of defense, we didn't get to see much of LaPorta in the field, but I'll be interested to hear from observers at his next stops. He looked pretty rough on the few balls hit to him here in Helena, including a misplay of a ball off the wall and hesitancy on both flyballs and groundballs. Way too early to make any judgments on his potential as a LFer, but early results generally unimpressive in the field--though he does seem to be able to hit. The best AB he had here (to me) was in his first game following the HR on a super slow curve, on which he showed excellent patience and stroked it in to the OF for a single. Not many hitters have the ability to wait on a pitch like he did. We'll be sorry not to have him around for the playoffs.

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21 people tonight, I put the attendance figure over the top. The very first foul ball came right at me, so after I had the first one, I let all the rest go untouched.


I saw a lot of really good players tonight - all played for the Royals. That 18 year old reliever they brought in (Lehmann) to close brought pure gas and outclassed any Brewer that came to the plate.


Paciorek had a nice night, but Trejo & Whiteside did not play. Uneventful night for Hereaud, Snijders had no clue at the plate - not one. A couple of real fluke type runs scored on Morales. He looked pretty good, actually. Crespo really throws hard - very hard. He just lets too many drift over the center of the plate.


Cost for the game was free, so all in all a fine buy for my entertainment dollar.

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Final: Arizona Royals 7, Arizona Brewers 0


Arizona Box Score:

Brewer batters struck out 15 times while working one base on balls, sigh; Joey Paciorek had two of the team's three singles; glad you made the effort, Boy Jeenius -- that's diehard stuff...




Arizona Game Log:


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Final: Huntsville 10, Birmingham (White Sox) 8


Huntsville Site Game Summary:

Link, text follows --




Iribarren Ignites Another Stars' Victory


Hernan Iribarren continued his scorching success at the plate, as he doubled and tripled twice and drove in four runs to power Huntsville past Birmingham 10-8 in another wild game Thursday night in the second of a five-game set at Joe Davis Stadium. The Stars improved to 30-17 in the second half with their eighth straight win to maintain their three-game lead over victorious Chattanooga in the North Division, while the Barons dipped to 20-27 in the second half and 52-65 overall. All of the victories during the Stars win streak have been by one or two runs.


Iribarren doubled with two outs in the first inning and scored when Adam Heether singled into left field to give the home team a quick 1-0 lead. Birmingham starter Jack Egbert, who entered the game second in the league in strikeouts and earned run average and leading the league in innings pitched, walked two and hit a batter in the home second to load the bases with one out. Mel Stocker hit a ground ball to second baseman Chris Getz, who fielded, looked to second and then turned and hurried a throw to first base past Shawn Garrett that allowed Brendan Katin and Carlos Corporan to score to make it 3-1, Guilder Rodriguez to advance to third base and Stocker to reach safely. Stocker stole second and scored with Rodriguez when Ryan Crew doubled to left to knock Egbert out of the game. Iribarren greeted Carlos Torres with a triple to score Crew and then scored on a two-out single by Katin to complete a six-run rally. Egbert was charged with six runs on four hits and recorded only four outs in his shortest outing of the season. He had lasted at least five frames in 21 of 23 outings and at least six innings in 18 of 23 turns.


Adam Shabala's two-run homer, his first with Birmingham, in the third cut the Stars' lead to 7-3. Barons' reliever Corwin Malone walked the bases loaded in the home fifth before Iribarren tripled to drive in three to extend the Stars' advantage to 10-3. Iribarren has collected multiple hits in 13 of his last 16 games, during which he has totaled 33 hits in 67 at-bats.


Stars' starter Derek Miller won his fifth straight decision to improve to 5-0 after giving up three runs on five hits over six innings. E.J. Shanks gave up a run-scoring double to Victor Mercedes and a three-run home run to David Cook in the seventh inning that got the Barons back into the game. Chris Kelly's home run in the eighth off Bo Hall trimmed the lead to 10-8 but Luis Pena squashed any hopes of a comeback with a scoreless ninth, including getting Mercedes to bounce into a game-ending double play. Pena recorded his fifth save in the last seven games and tenth of the season for the Stars, who have set a franchise record with a save in seven straight games.


The series continues Friday night with left-hander Lindsay Gulin taking the hill for Huntsville against Barons' southpaw Ryan Wing. Coverage of the game begins at 6:50 p.m. central time and can be heard locally on SportsRadio 730 WUMP and through the internet at www.huntsvillestars.com.


Huntsville Box Score:

This team seems to be playing much better than the sum of its parts would indicate, good for them and Huntsville fans, they deserve all kinds of kudos for their 2007 efforts; Hernan Iribarren has an .885 OPS against right-handed pitching as a Southern League second baseman, a nice number (.488 OPS vs. southpaws in 98 AB's); Ryan Crew on base four times; Derek Miller with a sweet 38-to-9 BB/K ratio in his seven Stars' starts...




Huntsville Game Log:



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Stars too hot to handle

Huntsville chases Egbert in beating Birmingham 10-8


For the Huntsville Times


At this rate, not even the Southern League's best pitchers want to face the Huntsville Stars.


Birmingham starter Jack Egbert entered Thursday night's game at Joe Davis Stadium sporting a 12-7 record and a 2.65 earned-run average. He exited stage left 1 1/3 innings later, sporting a bruised ERA and ego.


The Stars touched up Egbert for four hits and six runs on their way to a 10-8 win in front of an announced crowd of 1,153. They built a huge lead early and needed almost every bit of it late.


It was Huntsville's eighth straight win, extending the second-longest winning streak of the season. The Stars also did it without No. 3 hitter, first baseman Steve Sollmann, who left to be with his wife Kate in Illinois. Kate gave birth to the couple's first baby girl, May, late Thursday.


"Everybody's chipping in," Stars manager Don Money said. "You take Sollmann out, and the guys picked it up. That's what it takes: Twenty-four guys."


Stars starter Derek Miller wasn't his sharpest, but he still put together a solid outing. The lefty worked six innings and gave up three runs to improve to 5-0 on the season, and the bullpen hung on - barely.


Basically, Huntsville pitchers need only pitch the five required innings lately. The offense is doing the rest.


And Thursday, they did it against the pitcher with the No. 2 ERA in the league. A great portion of that damage came from Hernan Iribarren. The scorching second baseman had himself another fantastic game, going 3-for-5 with a double, a pair of triples and four RBIs. His last triple started with the bases loaded and ended with them cleared.


That was the fifth inning, and it put the game out of reach, making it 10-3.


It was the second time in less than a week Iribarren hit a pair of triples in a game.


"That's pretty cool," he said. "I'm just making the adjustments. The first part of the season, I was struggling, but now, I'm hitting the ball well."

Iribarren's stretch of the last half month is nearly as ridiculous as third baseman Adam Heether's was during July. In Iribarren's last 16 starts, he is 33-for-67, knocking on .500's door.


In typical fashion, Huntsville (30-17, 67-48) started Thursday's game quickly at the plate. After a pair of quick outs in the first, Iribarren doubled and Heether knocked him home with a single to make it 1-0.


Then, the Stars erupted for six in the second, chasing Egbert while sending 11 men to the plate. They finished the inning with four hits, two walks, two hit-batsmen and a head start on the Barons (20-27, 52-65).


"It seems like no matter what lineup we put out there," said Ryan Crew, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs, "somebody's going to hit well and surprise you."

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Miracle Web Site:

A pair of three runs innings on Thursday night led the Fort Myers Miracle to their fifth consecutive win, a 6-4 decision over the Brevard County Manatees at Hammond Stadium. Miracle starter Jeff Manship tossed seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits, with five strikeouts in the win.

The Miracle struck first in the opening frame as a lead-off double by Steve Tolleson would get the ball rolling. Tolleson would later score on Dustin Martin's double to right making it 1-0 Miracle. All five hits on the night for the Miracle were of the double variety.

A dropped line drive by Lorenzo Cain in right, off the bat of Edward Ovalle, led to the other two runs in the first. Brevard County would jump on the board in the fifth as a lead-off double from Cole Gillespie would pay off after a Yohannis Perez single to right. Perez scored a two hitters later on a Nestor Corredor ground out to short.

A pair of runs and two more Miracle doubles in the fifth would lead to the final three tallies on the night. Alexander Soto would draw a lead-off walk, move to second on Toby Gardenhire's sacrifice-bunt, and score easily on Tolleson's second two-base hit of the night.

Another Manatee error, this one by Perez at short, allowed Tolleson to score the second run of the frame, while Erik Lis cleaned up with his own RBI-double to right for the 6-2 lead. Two groundouts off the bat of Mike Bell would bring the visitors to within two, but Miracle closer Eddie Morlan shut the door in the final 1.1 innings for the save.

The Miracle and Manatees square off again Friday night at a special start time of 6:05 p.m. The Dave Matthews Tribute Band concert will take place after the ball game. The Miracle will send RHP Kyle Waldrop (4-3, 3.19) to the mound.


Oh yeah, it was Midget Wrestling Nite in Fort Myers!


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Final: Helena 7, Orem (Angels) 2


Owlz can't flash back to find their winning ways

By Jason Adkins

For the Deseret Morning News


OREM - Flashback Night at Brent Brown Ballpark was a hit as prices of some food and drink were cheap, and an Elvis entertaining the crowd. The attempt backfired for the Orem Owlz, though, as they weren't able to get back to their winning ways in years past on Tuesday night.


Orem wasn't able crack the pitching of the last-placed Helena Brewers - losers of six straight - in a 7-2 loss until late in the game on Thursday night. The Owlz only managed a lone hit through seven, but managed to get two runs in the last two innings.


"That was an ugly game," Orem manager Tom Kotchman said. "After having a day off, that was just embarrassing. We had one hit going into the eighth inning."


Jose Garcia (6-2) shined in relief for Helena in getting the win. Garcia didn't dazzle on the mound, but he just kept racking up the outs and striking out six in five innings of work.


Orem's attempt at a rally with two outs in the eighth was too little too late. Rian Kiniry singled for the Owlz first hit since a leadoff single in the first. Both Hector Estrella and Andrew Romine followed with hits of their own, and Romine's line drive plated Kiniry from second to cut the lead to 5-1.


Orem pitcher Michael Davitt (0-2) struggles this season continued in the third after striking out four in the first two innings. Curt Rindal led off the frame with a double and Jonathan Lucroy - with a .357 batting average - brought him home on a sharp single up the middle.


Helena didn't give Orem reliever Christopher Armstrong a break as the Brewers extended their lead to 5-0 in the fourth. Lucroy's single brought in Rindal for his second RBI and finished the Brewers scoring in the inning. A wild pitch by Armstrong and a passed ball charged to catcher Chris Rosenbaum during Rindal's at-bat scored two runs earlier in the inning.


Helena added two runs in the ninth for good measure and Orem pushed across a run of their own in the bottom of the inning, but a double play ended the game.


Orem hosts the Brewers for the second game of their four-game series tonight at 7:05 PM (8:05 Central).




Helena gets back on winning track against Orem

By Helena Independent Record Staff


OREM, Utah - The Helena Brewers put an end to a six-game losing streak as they downed Orem 7-2 Thursday night.


The Brewers jumped out to a 5-0 lead, with the big inning coming in the fourth. Miscues hurt the Owlz as Eric Fryer scored on a passed ball and David Fonseca came home on a wild pitch.


Fryer and Jonathan Lucroy each had an RBI double in the inning.


Curt Rindal also had a two-RBI double in the ninth to put the game away.


Lucroy was 3-for-4 on the night and he drove in two.


Eric Farris, Rindal and Fonseca had two hits on the night for the Brewers. The bottom three hitters in Helena's batting order had five hits and drove in three.


Helena starter R.J. Siedel had a very solid three innings, striking out four in that span.


Jose Garcia got his sixth win of the season, pitching five innings in which he struck out six and gave up just one earned run.


The Brewers are still four games out of first place in the Pioneer League's Northern Division. Orem is two games out of first place in the Southern Division.


Helena Box Score:

Tough 0-for-6 for Lee Haydel (OBP down to .281); Zelous Wheeler walks three times...




Helena Game Log:



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Power's LaPorta was the 'best power hitting prospect available'

Michael Dailey

Charleston Daily Mail sportswriter


The last couple of months have been sort of a whirlwind for West Virginia Power outfielder Matt LaPorta.


LaPorta, the Milwaukee Brewers' first-round draft pick (7th overall) in the 2007 amateur draft, has called Arizona, Montana and West Virginia home since the end of a stellar collegiate career on May 25.


The right-handed hitting, Port Charlotte, Fla., native, finished his four seasons at the University of Florida as the school's all-time leader in home runs (74), while ranking second in RBI (206) and third in slugging percentage (.681).


Those numbers helped LaPorta become the only two-time Player of the Year award winner in Southeastern Conference history, and helped put him on the Brewers' draft radar.


"As I understand from our scouting department, he was the best power hitting prospect available," said Reid Nichols, Milwaukee's director of player development. "And he's shown that in practice. He was just missing balls in the Pioneer League, but he was hitting the ball hard.

"We think he's got a pretty good bat."


Nursing a leg injury at the time of the draft, LaPorta was sent to the Brewers' minor league complex in Maryvale, Ariz., to rehab the injury and become acclimated to life as a professional baseball player.


When his leg was declared healthy, LaPorta was sent to short-season Class A Helena to tune up for his trip to West Virginia.


LaPorta, played in seven games at Helena, batting .259, with a double, homer and four RBI in 27 at bats.


In two games with the Power, including Thursday evening's 6-4 loss to the Savannah Sand Gnats at Appalachian Power Park, LaPorta is 3-for-9 (.333) with a double and one RBI.


West Virginia dropped to 20-27 with the loss, while Savannah improved to 15-30.


With a budding career that is just nine games in the making, LaPorta's biggest challenge to date is learning a whole new position at the professional level.


LaPorta, who entered Florida as a catching prospect, eventually tried third base before settling in at first.


However, Milwaukee plans to play the slugger in left field.


So far, LaPorta has performed well, although the conversion is still a work in progress.


"Left field is new for him," said Nichols. "I've seen him play five or six games and he's making good adjustments in the outfield.


"He's getting a good break on the ball.


"But he's still got a lot to learn because it's still a new position for him.


"The ball comes off the bat a little different in the outfield.


"He's going through a lot of change, but he's looked good doing it. He's making the adjustments that he needs to make."


While LaPorta knows of the difficulty involved in making the transition from collegiate player to professional, he's willing to do whatever it takes to help the Power and to help lengthen his playing career.


"It just means that I've got to focus more," said LaPorta of the position change. "I need to go out there everyday and work hard. Not just offensively, but on defense too. I want to be a pretty good outfielder and I know I'll have to work to do that."


He's already beginning to see improvement in his outfield play.


"I'm starting to get more comfortable out there. My leg's getting healthier and that's helping me play a little better.


"I'm judging balls a lot better right now, especially the line drives.


"I'm starting to learn how to move on those."


That improvement in the outfield showed in the eighth inning, when LaPorta made a sliding catch in left center to take a hit away from Savannah's No. 9 hitter Luis Rivera.


Unfortunately, West Virginia didn't fare as well against the top of the Sand Gnats' lineup, as the top six hitters in the lineup finished with two hits apiece.


After jumping to a 3-0 lead after two innings, on a first-inning solo homer by Brent Brewer and a two-run, second-inning shot by Steve Chapman, the Power was outscored 6-0 until plating its last run in the ninth.


Savannah got on the board in the fourth inning on a solo homer by Francisco Pena.


The Gnats took the lead for good in the fourth inning on a two-run homer by Joe Holden and an RBI single by Jonathan Sanchez, before adding single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.


Charleston Daily Mail Photo: Craig Cunningham

The West Virginia Power's Matt Laporta trades his helmet for his glove after an unsuccessful slide into second base against the Savannah Sand Gnats on Thursday night at Appalachian Power Park.



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For the 2nd time in 5 games, Huntsville's hottest hitter, Hernan Iribarren, hit two triples, and added a double and 4 RBIs, as the Huntsville Stars chased 12-game winner Jack Egbert in the 2nd inning, in what looked on paper like a pitching duel, then held on to win their 8th straight on another sweltering night at Joe Davis Stadium........ The Stars are now 30-17 in the 2nd half....... Hernan's 10th triple is the most by any Star since Dave Krynzel hit 11 in 2003. Of course, it's still a way off from the seemingly untouchable record of 18 hit by Luis Polonia in 1985, but more impressive is the fact that in the month of August, Iribarren is 18-for-34 - a .529 average, and that in his last 8 games, he's had 7 multi-hit games and 18 in 34 going back to July 1.

It's hard, sometimes, for a team that has already won a 1st half title, to keep that momentum going in the 2nd half....... Complacency sinks in and attrition does the rest as a team's best players -- the ones that took them to the title -- move up the ladder, such as occurred with Mississippi this year....... But the Stars have had a better 2nd half than 1st. (after 47 games, they were a modest 25-22), and are 21-6 since the Southern League All-Star break........Give manager Don Money credit for keeping this team focused this half and for instilling the will to win even after reaching their first half goal of making the playoffs. They are actually playing harder and look even more determined of winning, for the first time in their history, a 2nd half title as well. (In 1994, the Stars lost the 2nd half to Chattanooga by ½ game.)

Also give Don and the team credit for winning tonight with a barren bench....... Alcides Escobar and Michael Brantley are both nursing sore hamstrings and 1st baseman Steve Sollmann has left the team for Chicago, where his wife will have a C-section tomorrow, as they await their first child, but the non-regulars answered the call admirably........ Pressed into 1st base duty for a 2nd straight day, Carlos Corporan had his first 2-hit day since June 17....... Pressed into duty in left field again, Ryan Crew doubled and drove in 2 runs, and in two days, has gone 4-for-7 with 2 doubles and 4 RBIs......... Guilder Rodriguez, pressed into action at short for the 2nd straight day -- the first time since late June he's started in back-to-back games -- scored a run following a perfect 3-for-3 day, Wednesday. Guilder had gone 2-for-20 in July.

There are a lot of names that stick out, and the first ones that come to mind are -- Brendan Katin with his 20 HRs and league-leading 79 RBIs, Adam Heether, who has hit .350 since July 1, and tomorrow's starter Lindsay Gulin, who will attempt to become the Stars' first 12-game winner since Paul Stewart in 2002......... But no one right now is matching the offense of Hernan Iribarren. Since the 2nd half got under way, Hernan has hit .368 with 9 doubles, 8 triples, and 24 RBIs, raising his average from .254 when the half started, to .300 after tonight's unparalleled performance........ He became the first Huntsville Star to hit two triples in a game twice in one season. That's nothing to sneeze at. Prior to the start of the season, only six players since 1985 have managed to hit two in a game, the last one being Elvis Pena in 2002. Hernan did it twice in a span of five days.

The Stars, for the 2nd straight night and the 17th time in 36 games, scored in the 1st inning and it was Iribarren who came in after hitting a 2-out double, scoring on a sharp liner to left. The Barons tied it in the 2nd on a double to left by Shawn Garrett, who spent the last 2½ seasons with four different AAA teams, and a single to right by Cory Aldridge, another minor league vet. But the Stars, coming in with 10 multi-hit games in their last 17, and a .284 average since July 21, when they tied a club record with their 12th straight win, opened the floodgates in the bottom half to take a 7-1 lead.

The Stars sent 11 batters to the plate in the 2nd, knocking Jack Egbert, whose previous shortest start had been 4 1/3 innings on May 10, out of the game...... It was triggered after Egbert hit Brendan Katin on a 3-2 pitch. One out later, he grazed Carlos Corporan, then lost Guilder Rodriguez on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases....... Mel Stocker then hit a soft grounder to Chris Getz, who had trouble making up his mind where to throw the ball. Finally, with the Stars speediest hitter bearing down the line a matter of feet way, Getz threw the ball away. Stocker, strangely, was given credit for a hit and an RBI for driving in Katin, and an extra base on the throwing error to first, which scored Corporan, and moved G. Rod to third........ Stocker stole second on a 0-1 pitch to Ryan Crew, who then doubled him and G. Rod........ That was all for Egbert, who had gone at least 5 innings in 21 of his 23 starts....... In came Carlos Torres, who had held runners in scoring position to a .163 average this season........ But that meant nothing to Iribarren, who followed on a 0-1 pitch with a hard grounder that followed the line all the way from 1st base to the right field corner for a triple to make the score 6-1....... After striking out Adam Heether on three pitches, Torres walked Palmisano on four, then was ahead of Katin 0-and-2 when he hit a broken-bat single to right to close the scoring....... The 11th batter, Steve Moss, struck out on four pitches.

The Barons scored twice more in the 3rd on a 2-run HR by Adam Shabala, but after six innings, the Stars had a secure 10-3 lead......... That turned into a save situation, however, for Luis Pena, when E.J. Shanks, the submarine-style former independent league pitcher, came in and struggled through the 7th inning, giving up a walk on five pitches to Jeremy Frost, and a single by Sean Smith, sandwiching a force out....... Shanks was hit hard, even on his outs -- a long fly ball deep to left-center by Shabala that Ryan Crew chased down was Shanks' second out. Then Victor Mercedes hit a ground-rule double that bounced over the wall in left (it was argued Crew had tipped the ball over to no avail) and David Cook homered to left to make it a 10-7 ballgame........ Chris Kelly hit his 1st home run since July 17 to make it a 10-8 ballgame in the 8th, but Luis Pena, coming on in relief for the 5th time in 7 days, retired the side in order in the 9th for his 10th save, with the help of a snappy 4-6-3 double play to end the game (after it was deflected by Pena.)....... With Pena's 10th save and the 17 belonging to Marino Salas, it is the first time since 2002 when Matt Childers had 12 and Roberto Giron 10 that the Stars have had two relievers in a season with 10 or more saves in a season.

Big scratch-your-head moment in the 6th inning....... With the Stars leading, 10-3, reliever Adam Russell was holding Brendan Katin on first base and 1st baseman Cole Armstrong playing close to the bag........ Aside the fact that the Stars have a 7-run lead and are not looking to run, Katin has only one stolen base all season, and that came in the 2nd inning and has been caught twice this year........ Why treat this situation like such a threat?

The Stars are now 97-57 since August 1 of last year, their best record in a 154-game span in their history. They have won 23 of their last 29 games and are 42-13 when they score first..

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