Big innings sink Tides in series opener

Vincej homers and drives in three in 13-4 setback

Zach Vincej is congratulated after connecting on a two-run homer Monday night at Harbor Park.

By Norfolk Tides | June 24, 2019 10:47 PM

Zach Vincej homered and drove in three, but the Gwinnett Stripers used three different four-run innings to charge past the Tides 13-4 Monday night at Harbor Park. 

Vincej gave the Tides an early lead with a two-run homer in the second inning off of Patrick Weigel (1-1), his fifth home run of the season. Vincej later drove in run with a sixth inning double, and the 28-year-old infielder is now batting .268 with 11 doubles and 24 runs batted in this season. 

Tweet from @NorfolkTides: How To Turn On A FastballA story by @ZVincej #TidalTown #Birdland

Norfolk starter Tom Eshelman (2-2) got off to a tremendous start, retiring the first 10 batters of the contest before hitting Jack Lopez with a pitch with one out in the fourth inning. Lopez eventually scored on an RBI double from Adam Duvall, and the Stripers struck for four more runs off of Eshelman one inning later, with the big blow of that frame being a two-run homer off the bat of Travis Demeritte. 

Eshelman, making his third start in a Norfolk uniform, allowed five runs on seven hits over 5.2 innings of work. He walked two and struck out four while throwing 60 of his 97 pitches for strikes. The 25-year-old right-hander now owns a 3.33 ERA through seven starts between Norfolk and Lehigh Valley this season. 

Norfolk pulled within 5-4 in the sixth inning on Vincej's run-scoring double, but the Stripers broke the game open with four runs in the seventh frame off of Evan Phillips and Paul Fry. Rafael Ortega completed the scoring barrage with a grand slam off of Fry in the eighth frame that gave the Stripers a 13-4 advantage. 

Ryan Mountcastle had two hits to up his average to .306, while Jace Peterson added a double and a sacrifice fly. 

With the loss, Norfolk has now lost a season-high eight consecutive games. The Tides were 19-19 when play began on May 17th, but Norfolk (28-47) has gone 9-28 in its last 37 contests. 

The two clubs will wrap up their brief two-game set on Tuesday night at Harbor Park, with first pitch slated for 7:05. Keegan Akin (3-2, 4.29) is set to start for Norfolk and be opposed by right-hander Ben Rowen (4-3 3.24). 

Notes: The Tides wore throwback Norfolk Tars uniforms as part of a Turn Back The Clock Night at Harbor Park… Earlier Monday, left-handed pitchers Paul Fry and Sean Gilmartin were added to Norfolk's roster after both were optioned from Baltimore, while pitchers Zach Muckenhirn and Francisco Jimenez were transferred to Double-A Bowie…Despite Monday's game being the 75th contest of the season, it was the first time the Tides and Stripers have met at Harbor Park this year.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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