Davis Academy alum Brandon Gold had a rough outing in his first start since being promoted to the High-A California League, giving up seven runs on 11 hits in five innings in his debut for the Lancaster JetHawks on Tuesday, July 4.
Gold got no decision as Lancaster came back for a 10-9 home win over the Lake Elsinore Storm.
His last start for Asheville was no-decision in which he gave up two runs on six hits in six innings at home against the Greenville Drive, a Boston Red Sox farm team, whose pitching staff includes Gold’s Jewish teammate from Johns Creek High and Georgia Tech, Matthew Gorst. Both pitchers were drafted as juniors in the 12th round last year.
Gorst, a right-handed reliever, was the winning pitcher for Greenville at Asheville in Gold’s last game on the Tourists’ roster before his promotion June 30.
Gorst threw three innings in an appropriately psychedelic 9-6, 12-inning victory on a night when the Tourists paid tribute to the 1960s by playing as the Asheville Hippies. Tie-dye jerseys on the field complemented matching T-shirts and period costumes in the stands, where the spirit was enhanced by the discounted beer available on a rainy Thirsty Thursday.
It was no great surprise when a couple got into a brawl with police between the 11th and 12th innings after flinging taunts and water onto the field from their front-row seats. That excitement in the stands followed drama on the diamond that saved Gorst from a loss.
Gorst entered the game in bottom of the ninth with the score tied at 5. Mixing a slider with a fastball that hit 92 on the McCormick Field radar gun but usually was in the upper 80s, Gorst retired the first two hitters before running into trouble.
He walked ninth-place hitter Ben Johnson, who stole second and reached third on a wild pitch. The crowd of 4,200 thought the game was over when the next batter, Manuel Melendez, ripped a line drive toward left field, but third baseman Steven Reveles made a leaping catch for the third out.
Gorst retired the Hippies in order in the 10th, then took the mound in the 11th with a chance to close out the game after the Drive took a 6-5 lead on a bloop triple and a double in the top of the inning. But the lead didn’t last long.
First baseman Jacob Bosiokovic crushed a hanging off-speed pitch on an 0-1 count for a game-tying home run to left. After a flyout, Max George lined a single to center, then moved to second on a wild pitch as Gorst struggled with his control.
Catcher Brian Serven hit a routine groundball to shortstop Santiago Espinal. George stayed at second on what should have been the second out, but Espinal’s throw sailed far over first baseman Tucker Tubbs, allowing Serven to reach base and George to advance to third.
Serven started toward second, but the ricochet from Espinal’s throw helped Tubbs retrieve the ball quickly and throw to second baseman Carlos Tovar, getting Serven into a rundown. After two more throws, Espinal tagged out Serven near second base.
Meanwhile, George broke for home, trying to score the winning run. Espinal, moments after his terrible throw to first, made a perfect throw to catcher Roldani Baldwin, whose diving tag caught George a split-second before he hit the plate. Many Asheville fans, including the couple who wound up being arrested, didn’t agree with the call.
After Greenville scored three unearned runs in the top of the 12th, Hunter Smith relieved Gorst to get the final three outs.
The win improved Gorst’s record to 4-3. He gave up three hits and a walk and had no strikeouts.
He then threw two shutout innings against Lexington on Sunday, July 2, to lower his ERA for the season to 3.30.
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The right-handed reliever entered a 7-1 home loss to Elizabethton to begin the fifth inning. He gave up a walk, a single, a wild pitch and an unearned run before leaving the game after 20 pitches and two outs.
Another Jewish pitcher in the Braves’ minor-league system, former first-rounder Max Fried, continues to struggle for AA Mississippi. In his latest start, Fried was knocked out in the third inning June 29 after giving up four hits, three walks and three runs in a 4-1 home loss against Chattanooga.
Fried is 2-11 with a 6.69 ERA for the season.