Wild Things Win Series Opener Behind Dominant Pitching, Meeker Makes MLB Debut

Friday, June 7, 2024
By Kyle Dawson
Wild Things Win Series Opener Behind Dominant Pitching, Meeker Makes MLB Debut

WASHINGTON, Pa. (June 7) – In front of a sellout crowd at Wild Things Park, The Washington Wild Things took game one of the weekend series against the Joliet Slammers, 3-1, thanks to a dominant performance from starting pitcher Jordan DiValerio, which saw him set season highs in innings pitched and strikeouts, as well as a season low in walks, earned runs and hits.

The night also saw former Wild Thing RHP James Meeker, a Pittsburgh native whose contract was purchase from the Wild Things by the Brewers in 2021, make his big-league debut in the ninth inning in Detroit. Meeker put up a zero to finish a Milwaukee win while Washington did its part at home.

After two clean innings from Wild Things starter Jordan DiValerio, the Slammers rallied in the top of the third thanks to a leadoff double from catcher Brandon Heidal. Heidal moved over to third base on a groundout from Jake Allgeyer before ultimately scoring the first run of the game thanks to a sacrifice fly from Liam McArthur. The double from Heidal also represented the first hit of the game as both pitchers dueled through the first two innings.

Quincy Latimore put Washington on the board with an RBI triple to left center, scoring Robert Chayka. Chayka walked then stole second to put himself in scoring position before Latimore drove him home. Tommy Caufield singled to center to bring in Latimore, giving the Wild Things a 2-1 advantage at the end of the fourth inning.

Between the third and sixth innings, DiValerio retired eight consecutive batters following the McArthur sac fly. This included a stretch when he struck out four consecutive batters after striking out the side in order in the fifth and victimizing Allgeyer to begin the sixth. DiValerio struck out five of his eight batters between those two innings while only allowing a single with one out in the sixth.

In the bottom of the frame, Andrew Czech blasted his team-leading seventh home run over the left field wall to extend the Washington lead. The homer extended Czech’s on-base streak to 56 games.

DiValerio continued his dominance through the eighth inning as the Slammers attempted to stop his momentum by bringing in consecutive pinch hitters at the bottom of the order. Despite the changes, he continued to carve through hitters as he struck out the side once again in the eighth inning for the second time on the evening as Washington held onto a 3-1 lead heading into the ninth inning. DiValerio concluded his night with a team-high tying 10 punch outs, while allowing just one run on three hits.

Gyeongju Kim entered the game in the ninth for the Wild Things and continued the domination from the mound against the top of the Joliet order. Kim left off where DiValerio finished his outing as he struck out the first two batters he faced in Chris Davis and Antonio Valdez. With two outs in the ninth, designated hitter Matthew Warkentin lifted a fly ball into left field that hung up long enough for Latimore to record the final out in a 3-1 victory. The save was Kim’s seventh of the season which leads the Frontier League.

Offensively for Washington, Czech, Latimore and Caufield recorded hits with each of them driving in one run apiece. Chayka had a productive night himself with two walks and two stolen bags. Santini and Wilder both reached base on walks as well.

The Wild Things and Slammers meet for the middle game of the series on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. It is Salute to Service Night presented by Nicole Malesic at Realty ONE with a jersey auction presented by 84 Lumber. The first 1,000 fans will receive a Salute to Service hat presented by GI Plumbing. Additionally, it is Westmoreland County Community Night presented by Fibrenew Laurel Highlands and Scout Night.