New Orleans broke loose for four runs on seven hits in the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie Saturday at Zephyr Field.
In taking a 2-1 series lead, the Zephyrs (10-11) snapped a tie for the second consecutive game with a late-inning flurry. Starter Jose Urena held Memphis (8-14) to one run on four hits in six innings.
“We got 15 hits; I thought up and down the line our bats were really good,” manager Andy Haines said. “The game’s nine innings. We talk about that all the time.”
Cole Gillespie, Miguel Rojas, Jordany Valdespin, Derek Dietrich, Brady Shoemaker and Juan Diaz all singled in the seventh. The big blow was catcher Vinny Rottino’s one-out, bases loaded double off reliever Dean Kiekhefer, plating two runs. Dietrich and Shoemaker followed with run-scoring hits.
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Z’s had committed just one error in their past nine games, putting them atop the Pacific Coast League in fielding with a .988 percentage.
“We have good infielders,” manager Andy Haines said. “Miguel Rojas came here with the reputation as a very good defensive player at shortstop, and we’ve been playing Derek Dietrich at third. He has big-league experience at second.
“But also, we’ve been getting good pitching, and it goes hand-in-hand with good defense.”
The lone error in that span came on April 22 by right fielder Gillespie in the sixth inning at Iowa, a ball hit by Arismendy Alcantara that enabled John Andreoli to score for second.
On Saturday, first baseman Shoemaker dropped a foul ball hit by Memphis left fielder Matt Williams in the first inning. However, when Shoemaker got his glove on the ball, he was hanging over the dugout rail. Williams then ground into a double play.
Urena’s calling card is that his fastball gets into the upper 90s miles per hour.
In the fourth inning of Saturday’s game, he sawed off the bat of Redbirds clean-up hitter Xavier Scruggs at the handle during the fourth inning. Scruggs appeared to check swing, then the top part of the bat landed a few feat from him.
He looked surprised, as the ball rolled to the mound. Urena fired to first to get the out.
The series had its first pitch-clock infraction during the first inning Saturday. With one out and runners on first and second and Dietrich batting, the 20-second clock expired before Memphis starter Zack Petrick threw a pitch. That resulted in a ball being called. … Z’s left-hander Adam Conley (1-1, 3.57 ERA) will take the mound against the Redbirds on Sunday. ... Justin Nicolino’s six-inning, four-hit shutout vs. Memphis on Friday lowered his earned-run average to 0.63, which leads the PCL. He is second in Triple-A baseball to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s Ryan Williams, whose ERA is 0.46. … Austin Wates’ single in the eighth inning of Friday’s produced the first RBI by a Zephyrs pinch-hitter since Aug. 8, 2014 at Memphis.