Chad Bentz of Juneau has been having an outstanding season so far for the Harrisburg (Pa.) Senators of the Eastern League, the Class AA team for the Montreal Expos.
But it took until Tuesday for Bentz to earn his first victory at the Class AA level.
Bentz, a left-handed relief pitcher, improved his team-leading ERA to 1.89 on Tuesday when he pitched a one-hit ninth inning as the Senators claimed a 5-4 victory over the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs in the first game of a doubleheader. The score was tied 4-4 when Bentz entered the game, and Harrisburg (36-48) rallied for the victory in the bottom of the ninth. Portland won the second game of the doubleheader 5-3 in seven innings.
The win improves Bentz's record to 1-1 with five saves. He's made 31 appearances this year, all in relief, and has pitched in 52 1/3 innings. Bentz has allowed 42 hits and 24 walks, striking out 27. He has allowed 17 runs, but only 11 earned.
Juneau's other minor league baseball player, Rob Conway, also had a good day on Tuesday.
Conway, who plays for the Kelowna (British Columbia) Heat of the independent Canadian Baseball League, reached base all six times he stepped to the plate during a 16-5 Canada Day victory over the London (Ontario) Monarchs.
Conway, a first baseman-third baseman, went 2-for-2 with an RBI double, four walks and three runs scored as the Heat (12-13) won its sixth straight game to move within one game of .500. On June 25, Conway stole home as part of a double-steal to help the Heat beat the Montreal Royales 4-3. The run was Conway's only stolen base of the season.
After a slow start, Conway's batting average has climbed nearly 100 points the last two weeks and he's now hitting .274 for the season. Conway has gone 23-for-84 with a team-high 22 runs scored, 15 RBIs (third on the team), five doubles, two home runs and 15 walks.
Alaska League players
Closer to home, two of Juneau's three Alaska League baseball players are no longer with their teams. The Alaska League is an amateur league featuring college all-stars and it has seen close to 600 eventual major leaguers spend a summer or two in Alaska over the past 40 years.
Dylan Hickey, a right-handed pitcher attending the University of Dayton, left the Anchorage Bucs on Monday when he developed tendinitis in his pitching arm. It was an early end to what was setting up to be a strong season.
Hickey was 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in four appearances, all starts, for the Bucs, allowing 16 hits and just three walks in 20 innings pitched. He had allowed six runs scored, just three earned, and had 13 strikeouts for Anchorage (9-6). On Sunday, Hickey received a no-decision after throwing five innings, allowing three hits and one unearned run in a 9-8 victory over the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks. It was during Sunday's game that Hickey's arm tightened up.
Justin Fuller, a Lynnwood (Wash.) High School graduate who listed his hometown as Juneau, is no longer listed on the roster for the Goldpanners. Fuller, a middle infielder who attends Lewis-Clark State University in Idaho, never played a game for the Goldpanners this summer.
That leaves catcher Garrett Schoenberger of the (Kenai) Peninsula Oilers as the only Juneau player still on an Alaska League roster.
Schoenberger, who attends Arizona State University and is in his second season with the Oilers, scored the game-tying run on Monday as the Oilers rallied to beat the Anchorage Glacier Pilots 2-1. Schoenberger singled, took second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an RBI single. He went 1-for-3 for the game with one run scored, a walk and a stolen base.
Through Monday, Schoenberger batting .200 (3-for-15) with two runs scored and one stolen base for the Oilers (10-12), who only have four batters hitting better than .200 this summer. In Schoenberger's last two games played, though, he's posted identical 1-for-3 lines with a run scored in each game.
Edmonds (Wash.) Shockers
There are four players from Juneau and one from Ketchikan playing Connie Mack baseball for the Edmonds (Wash.) Shockers baseball club, a team for players up to age 19. There is also a younger Shockers team that plays Mickey Mantle baseball (for players to age 17).
Shortstop Joe Ayers, third baseman-right-handed pitcher Zach Kohan and first baseman-left-handed pitcher Evan Scandling were all seniors for the two-time state champion Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears this past spring.
Right-handed pitcher Geno Vick, who will be a junior for the Crimson Bears this fall, and Ketchikan left-handed pitcher Kraig Bailey, who will be a senior for the Kings this fall, also are on the Shockers' roster this summer.
Ayers, Scandling and Bailey all played for the Shockers last year (with Dylan Hickey) as the Shockers won the Washington state Connie Mack and Mickey Mantle titles. Ayers will play baseball at Stanford University on scholarship next spring, while Scandling and Kohan will both be recruited walk-on players for the University of San Francisco. Ayers and Kohan were both drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in June's baseball draft, with Ayers picked in the 36th round and Kohan in the 42nd.
The Shockers were 24-11 overall and 14-1 in league play through Saturday's games, but no team stats were available.