Asheville buries Power 16-0
The Power's recent run of big offensive production and overall efficiency had produced a four-game winning streak, as well as expectations of more to come.
Not that any of those things mattered to the Asheville Tourists, most notably catcher Will Swanner and pitcher Vianney Mayo.
Swanner contributed two home runs and seven RBIs and Mayo pitched a complete-game shutout - a minor league feat on the verge of extinction - as the Tourists routed the Power 16-0 Monday night at Appalachian Power Park. A paid crowd of 1,400 attended.
In an era when strict pitch counts often force minor leaguers from the mound in the sixth inning or earlier, Mayo economized by throwing first-pitch strikes, not walking a batter and allowing just three hits. He struck out nine.
But with two outs in the ninth, as his pitch count moved past 90, he faced the Power's Josh Bell and stood on the brink of removal.
"That was his last hitter. He was done,'' said Asheville manager Joe Mikulik. "We were going to stall and get another guy ready and take him out. I would have liked to leave him in, but you have to take him out.''
Mayo, however, fanned Bell for the South Atlantic League's first complete game of the season.
"He just got ahead of the hitters and kept the ball down with plus command,'' said Mikulik. "Then he showed a breaking ball when he had to. He was very, very impressive. It was good to see.''
Swanner, who entered the game as a .227 hitter with no homers or RBIs, hit a grand slam to left-center to cap a seven-run third inning and added a two-run blast in the seventh. He also doubled and scored in a four-run fifth inning.
His three hits lifted his average to .308 in what has been an impressive offensive start for the Tourists (8-4), a Rockies team that started the night with a league-leading .306 team batting average.
Last week, they swept the Power, scoring 29 runs in a three-game series in Asheville.
"Every one of our guys could hit third or fourth in our lineup the way we've been swinging,'' said Swanner, a 20-year-old California native. "It's amazing.''
When he batted in the ninth, a pitch from Power reliever Jordan Cooper caught Swanner in the back, earning Cooper an ejection and raising the hint of some bench-clearing activity.
A smattering of Tourists emerged from the dugout but did not cross the foul line. Several Power players positioned themselves between Swanner and Cooper.
"We were up 15 or 16 at that point,'' said Swanner. "There's no real point in getting mad. Obviously I'm mad I got hit, but I'm not going to lose my temper over something so silly. It's really not that big of a deal to me.''
The Tourists totaled 17 hits, including six doubles and three homers, and benefited from five Power errors. Mayo, a 22-year-old right-hander from Venezuela, did not give up a hit until Jose Osuna led off the fifth with a double.
Reach Mike Whiteford at email@example.com.