Schmidt’s Blasts Lifts Spinners
LOWELL -- With less than three weeks remaining in the New York-Penn League regular season, the Lowell Spinners began an important series with the Tri-City ValleyCats on Friday night.
If Lowell is to make a late push for the Stedler Division title, or a playoff wild card berth, a weekend sweep over first-place Tri-City would be a major step in the right direction.
So far, so good.
Thanks to an unlikely offensive spark from catcher Alberto Schmidt, the Spinners rolled to an 11-3 victory at LeLacheur Park. The 21-year-old 16th-round draft pick in 2016 delivered a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth to put Lowell up 4-3, and the hosts never relinquished the lead.
“I think winning is an important part of development,” said Lowell manager Corey Wimberly. “I know it’s not everything when you’re talking development, but we preach winning. We want to breed championship ball players so when they go up to the next level they’re able to help the next club.”
Lowell improved to 30-27 and is now just 2.5 games behind Tri-City (33-25), an affiliate of the Houston Astros. The teams will also meet on Saturday and Sunday at LeLacheur.
It was Schmidt’s first home run in 18 games with the Spinners this season. He entered the game batting just .191 with just one extra-base hit and one RBI. But the native of Puerto Rico found his stroke in a key spot and went 2-for-4 for the night to raise his average to .216.
“Schmidt has been a great teammate and a great player for our club,” said Wimberly. “He’s been solid behind the dish and is taking full advantage of his opportunities. He’s starting to look more comfortable in the box.”
The Spinners took advantage of four Tri-City errors. The lineup also did its job from top to bottom. Usual suspects Korby Batesole (2-for-4), Tyler Dearden (2-for-5) and Devlin Granberg (2-for-5, two doubles) are all now hitting over .300 for the season.
Lowell’s bullpen combined for five shutouts innings, allowing just one hit to help the recovery from an early 3-0 hole.
Lefty Oddanier Mosqueda struck out the side in his one inning of work to earn the win and improve to 3-1.
“Guys are coming in and they’re ready for their opportunity,” Wimberly said. “They’re hungry and we got a lot of arms down in that pen.”
Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone