Over the last few weeks, Justin Donatella and Double-A Jackson pitching coach Doug Drabek worked on some mechanical tweaks and made sure the hurler could focus on "attacking the box" with all of his stuff. That approach and the small adjustments have paved the way for his best stretch of
Over the last few weeks, Justin Donatella and Double-A Jackson pitching coach Doug Drabek worked on some mechanical tweaks and made sure the hurler could focus on "attacking the box" with all of his stuff. That approach and the small adjustments have paved the way for his best stretch of the season, which has coincided with the team's most important stretch.
The D-backs prospect carried that momentum into Friday's start, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out seven over six innings as the Generals topped Montgomery, 3-0, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 Southern League semifinals.
"The game plan was to just attack these guys, the hitters. That's been kind of the trend of late," Donatella said. "I was just trying to stay competitive in the zone and let defense and the stuff work. It worked out. ... I've made a little mechanical change and it's given me confidence to be competitive in the zone."
The right-hander fell on hard times in early August when he allowed 12 runs over his first three outings of the month. But things started to click in the final two weeks when he yielded one run over in his final three regular-season starts and was unscored upon over his last 15 innings.
Gameday box score
The 2016 15th-round pick kept that scoreless stuff going against Montgomery, throwing 63 of 98 pitches for strikes. While he picked up seven punchouts, he let his defense work, recording five groundouts and seven in the air.
Two of Montgomery's three hits came in succession in the second inning when Rays No. 3 prospectJesús Sánchez and Nathan Lukes singled to start the frame. Donatella didn't get rattled, retiring David Rodríguez on a fly ball to center field before fanning Miles Mastrobuoni and ninth-ranked Lucius Fox to quell the threat.
Brett Sullivan put the pressure on in the third with a two-out single and stole second before Michael Brosseau walked. Donatella again worked around the traffic by fanning Sanchez after a nine-pitch battle. The UC-San Diego product set down the next 12 hitters and closed out his second straight start with six scoreless innings.
Donatella didn't totally change his game plan, but he bent it a little to make it through the high-leverage situations unscathed.
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"My mind-set is not to give in. We're playing a very good baseball team," he said. "We have a pretty good team ourselves, so I just figured I if I could keep my team in the ballgame with as little damage as possible, then [we] could put some runs together. It was 0-0 at the time, so I was just not trying to give up the runs because I knew our offense was eventually going to get through and put some runs on the board."
The offense came through in the fifth when D-backs No. 30 prospectDominic Miroglio broke the ice with a two-run double. Domingo Leyba, ranked 17th in the Arizona system, padded the lead with an RBI single in eighth.
Sam McWilliams (0-1) took the loss, yielding two runs on three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings.
Game 4 is Saturday night in Montgomery.
In other Southern League playoff action: Shuckers 3, Wahoos 2Top Brewers prospectKeston Hiura
capped an eighth-inning rally with a go-ahead RBI double to put Biloxi up, 2-1, in the other semifinal. Jon Olczak
and Nate Griep
each tossed a scoreless frame to close out the victory. Reds No. 5 prospectTony Santillan
started for Pensacola and allowed a run on two hits and walk while striking out eight in 6 1/3 innings. Gameday box score
Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.