Harrisburg, Pa. - Jesse Biddle put together one of - if not the most - dominating performances in Reading franchise history Monday night at Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg. The Phillies top prospect struck out 16 batters over seven shutout innings, and the Fightin Phils held on for a 3-2, series-opening win over the Harrisburg Senators.
On what would end up being a historic night, Biddle (2-1) got off to a fast start by striking out the side on 12 pitches in the first inning. It was the first of four innings that the 21-year-old would strike out the side.
Harrisburg starter Paul Demny (1-2) would also start strong, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced including five by strikeout. The lone exception was Biddle, who doubled off him down the right field line with two outs in the third. He was left stranded on base as Albert Cartwright would strike out to end the inning.
The Fightins (9-8) broke through against Demny in the top of the fourth. Troy Hanzawa, who has a hit in all five games he has played in, singled up the middle leading off the inning. Demny fell behind Zach Collier 2-0 and the Reading left fielder belted the Texan's next pitch into the seats in right for his first Double-A home run, a two-run shot that gave the Fightin Phils a 2-0 lead.
Reading would add to the advantage an inning later. Biddle was again in the mix has he stroked a one-out double into the ally in right-center field for his second hit of the night. With the pitcher in scoring position again, Cartwright would take advantage of the second chance. The second baseman singled into right driving in Biddle putting the Fightins ahead 3-0. The base hit also extended Cartwright's hit streak to 11 games, currently the longest of the season in the Eastern League.
Biddle would take over from there. The native of the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia retired the first 19 batters he faced in order, striking out 14 of the 19. He would lose the perfect game bid with one out in the seventh by walking Sean Nicol. Three pitches later, Destin Hood singled into left field to break up the no hitter. Biddle would fan Justin Bloxom for his 15 strikeout of the game but would walk Sandy Leon to load the bases and put the lead in jeopardy. With the tying run on base and two out in the seventh, Biddle would convince Reading manager Dusty Wathan to leave him in the game following his 99th pitch. The southpaw would deliver as he struck out Randolph Oduber looking for the third time, his 16th strikeout of the night, stranding the bases loaded and maintaining Reading's 3-0 lead.
Biddle finished the night allowing just the hit in seven scoreless innings, striking out 16 and walking two. He threw 104 pitches, 74 strikes. The lefty's previous career high in strikeouts was 12 which he had accomplished twice, most recently last August while pitching with Advanced-A Clearwater in the Florida State League. It was the most strikeouts by a Reading pitcher since Adam Walker punched out 13 batters May 10, 2001, at Portland.
Harrisburg (9-9) would make it interesting with an eighth inning rally against Reading closer Kyle Simon. Rick Hague got it started with a double to right and took third on a sacrifice bunt from Josh Johnson. Pinch hitter Francisco Soriano drew a four-pitch walk to put runners at the corners with one out in the inning. Goodwin, who had fanned three times against Biddle, doubled down the left field line to drive in Hague and break up the shutout bid for the Fightins. With runners at second and third and the infield back, Nicol bounced out to third to score Soriano and trim the Reading lead to 3-2. Simon would come back to strikeout Hood and leave the tying run stranded at third.
The Senators threatened again in the bottom of the ninth but Simon would strand the tying and winning runs on base by getting Johnson to bounce out to short to end the game. The right-hander earned his fifth save in six tries and made a winner out of Biddle who picked up his second Double-A victory.
The Fightin Phils continue their three-game series with the Senators on Tuesday night. Right-hander Seth Rosin (1-1) is scheduled to start for Reading opposite Harrisburg righty Caleb Clay (2-0). First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM and pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 PM on Oldies 1340 WRAW.