GreenJackets' Messner stifles Tourists

Giants prospect holds SAL's top offense to one hit over seven innings

Steven Messner is 7-3 with a 4.18 ERA in 29 games, including 10 starts, for Augusta. (Shane Roper/

By Robert Emrich / | August 16, 2014 11:12 PM ET

Steven Messner gave the Tourists a sinking feeling on Saturday night.

The Giants prospect kept the South Atlantic League's best offense in check, allowing one hit over seven innings as Class A Augusta blanked Asheville, 5-0.

Messner struck out four, walked one and faced one batter over the minimum. He did not allow a hit until Wilfredo Rodriguez doubled to lead off the sixth inning, then retired the final six batters he faced for the GreenJackets.

"I think I was just working a lot of first-pitch strikes and throwing a lot of strikes," said Messner, who threw 53 of 80 pitches for strikes. "The defense was flashing a lot of leather behind me. They were making plays behind me that in other games were doubles. Today was just one of those days that the defense was just getting everything."

After recording 13 ground-ball outs, the 24-year-old left-hander credited his sinker for his success.

"I was throwing a lot of sinkers early," Messner said. "The ball was sinking pretty good, they were pounding them into the ground. After the third, I started flipping my curveball. I like throwing a lot of curveballs to these guys. Just keeping it down, curves and sinkers, mixing in and out and getting in on their hands."

Making his success on Saturday even more impressive is the fact that it came against the Tourists, who lead the South Atlantic League with 705 runs scored, a .292 batting average and .806 OPS. The Cal State-San Marcos product came into the series aware of both Asheville's prodigious offensive output and its park, McCormick Field, where the right-field fence is 297 feet from home plate.

"I think my catcher, Ty Ross, was really good about picking out their hitters," Messner said. "We were on the same pitch tonight. I would have the pitch gripped and he would call it. We had a game plan, saving our stuff 'til later, throw a lot of fastballs until they prove they could get some bat on it.

"Our pitching coach, Steve Kline, was telling us the whole series, 'Don't let the park affect the way you throw.' If you try to stay away, that team is good about peppering the ball to right-center field gaps. He really encouraged us to stick to our game plan."

The GreenJackets gave Messner the lead in the seventh as Randy Ortiz broke a scoreless tie with a two-run single. Will Callaway and Rafael Rodriguez added RBI singles and Ross drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Kyle Freeland, the Rockies' No. 4 prospect, gave up three hits over 4 2/3 scoreless innings but did not figure in the decision for the Tourists.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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