Thomas strikes out seven in season debut

Pittsburgh Pirates’ number seven overall prospect, Bahamian pitcher Tahnaj Thomas, struck out seven batters in three innings of play in his 2021 Minor League Baseball (MiLB) debut for the Greensboro Grasshoppers (1-1) on Wednesday night at the First National Bank Field in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Grasshoppers took down the Hickory Crawdads (1-1), 8-4, getting revenge on the Crawdads for spoiling their season opener, losing 7-5 on opening night.

Thomas started the game and only played three innings. It was enough to strike out seven Crawdads batters. He gave up a solo home run in the top of the second inning, but that was the only hit he surrendered.

In the top of the first inning, Thomas struck out the Crawdads’ first two batters – Johnathan Ornelas and Chris Seise. Both went down swinging on full counts. The third batter in that inning, Justin Foscue, made contact on a 3-1 count as the ball went to Thomas who threw it to first baseman Aaron Shackelford for the out.

The Grasshoppers took an 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a solo home run by Liover Peguero. The Crawdads’ Blaine Crim got a solo homer off Thomas in the top of the second inning to tie the game 1-1. The three outs in the second inning for the Crawdads were all strikeouts as Thomas did not give up any more runs.

In the third inning, Thomas struck out two more batters. He fanned Miguel Aparicio for the first out of that inning. A fly out to centerfield was the second out. Thomas picked up his seventh strikeout, 

catching Chris Seise looking, to shut down the Crawdads in the third inning.

The Grasshoppers led 3-1 at the end of the third inning.

Thomas was subbed out in the top of the fourth inning. The Bahamian finished with an impressive WHIP (Walks and Hits Per Inning Pitched) of .67.

Also in action on Wednesday was first baseman Warren Saunders and his team, the St. Lucie Mets. They endured a 10-inning battle with the Jupiter Hammerheads and fell 6-5 at Clover Park, in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Saunders finished the game 2-for-5 at the plate, and now has a batting average of .333.

He got his first hit in the bottom of the third inning when he hit a line drive to center field for a single. The New York Mets prospect was able to hit another single in the bottom of the fifth inning. This time it was a shot to right field. Saunders stole his only base of the game in that same inning. The Mets went up 4-1 at the end of that inning.

In the top of the eighth inning, the Hammerheads scored three runs to take a 5-4 lead. Saunders’ team was able to score one run in the bottom of that inning to tie the game 5-5, and after a scoreless ninth for both teams, the Hammerheads scored in the 10th inning to win the game.

No other Bahamians were in action on Wednesday. No scores were available at news time for yesterday’s games. Action continues for the Grasshoppers and Mets today.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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