While Wilson Countians were wrapped up in the opening of high school football season or the penultimate night of the Wilson County Fair last Friday, a Triple-A baseball double header in upstate New York had a strong Mt. Juliet thumbprint left on it.
Rochester took on host Syracuse in the resumption of a suspended game from the previous night before the International League rivals played the scheduled contest.
Stephen Pryor, Friendship Christian Class of 2007, pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief, allowing a hit and two walks with three strikeouts to pick up the 4-2 win in his first decision since being traded by the Seattle Mariners to the Minnesota Twins last month.
In the regularly-scheduled game that followed, reduced to seven innings per minor-league double header, Taylor Hill, Mt. Juliet Class of 2007, tossed a complete game 3-0 shutout. The right-hander scattered three hits and a walk with two strikeouts to improve to 11-6.
Pryor and Hill are in opposing dugouts as the Chiefs and Red Wings battle for playoff positions, but they were teammates at Mt. Juliet Middle School and, for at least their freshman seasons, at Mt. Juliet High before Pryor transferred to Friendship.
“That was a loaded team,” Mt. Juliet coach Mark Purvis said. “We had Caleb Cotham [a teammate with Hill at Vanderbilt who now pitches in the New York Yankees system] then, too.”
While Syracuse was finishing salvaging the split, Albuquerque was taking on Colorado Springs in the high Colorado altitude with Lebanon’s Jeff Bennett on the mound for the visiting Isotopes.
In an atmosphere conducive for high-scoring games, Bennett battled through 5 2/3 innings in which he allowed four earned runs on nine hits and two walks with five strikeouts in a 13-7 victory.
Pryor’s been back on the mound since Friday, surviving a two-out solo home run Sunday to save a 5-4 home win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It was his second save in his last three outings. He only pitched one inning Sunday, but was coming off five straight outings of at least two innings as he lowered his Rochester earned-run average to 1.02 and Triple-A season ERA, counting his time at Tacoma, to 3.33 as he awaits a possible callup to Minnesota when the major-league rosters expand to 40 on Sunday.
Hill, after shooting out to a 9-2 mark which was one of the best in the International League, endured a three-game losing streak sandwiched around a trip to the disabled list. His ERA is 2.81 as he too, awaits a possible recall to the parent Washington Nationals, though the Nats, who have an eight-game lead on the Atlanta Braves atop the National League East standings, could keep him in Syracuse for the IL playoffs.
Bennett, who lives in Lebanon after prepping at Gordonsville nearly 20 years ago, is 8-6 with a 3.95 ERA in 20 starts for the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate, which plays many of its games, including its home contests, in thin-air ballparks which give the Pacific Coast League its reputation for offense. His next scheduled start is Wednesday night at Oklahoma City.