Season Recap; Asheville Tourists
ASHEVILLE-- The Asheville Tourists wrapped up the 2017 season on a high note. Asheville won 11 of their last 13 games and clinched a second place finish in the South Atlantic League's southern division. The Tourists went 29-39 in the first half before turning it around after the All-Star Break. Asheville's second half record was 39-31 resulting in an overall record of 68-70.
This season was filled with highlights and accolades for the Tourists. Manager Warren Schaeffer recorded his 200th career win, all with Asheville, to become just the seventh Tourists manager in history to eclipse that milestone. Outfielder Willie Abreu and Jose Gomez were named to the end of the year South Atlantic League All-Star team. Abreu was selected as one of the three top outfielders in the league while Gomez was selected as the top shortstop.
Six Tourists players were named to the mid-season South Atlantic League All-Star team. Gomez, the southern division starting shortstop, was joined by fellow infielders Colton Welker (starting third-baseman), and Max George (starting designated hitter). Vince Fernandez was voted in as the starting left-fielder and pitchers Alejandro Requena and J.D. Hammer rounded out Asheville's mid-season All Stars.
Asheville's longest winning streak of the season came right at the end of the year. The Tourists won eight straight contests from August 26-September 3. The offense finished as the South Atlantic League's best unti. As a team, Asheville led the league in batting average (.266), Home Runs (115), runs scored (660), doubles (292), and stolen bases (229). Three players won the South Atlantic League Player of the Week award at some point during the season; Welker, Manny Melendez, and Tyler Nevin.
As dominant as the Tourists hitters were this season, the strength of this year's team was in the bullpen. The Tourists had 11 relievers finish the season with individual ERA's of 3.86 or below; all of which made a minimum of 16 appearances; Hammer (1.20), Justin Lawrence (1.65), Bryan Baker (1.66), Heath Holder (2.00), Reid Humphreys (2.56), Julian Fernandez (3.26), Juan Pena (2.66), Matt Dennis (3.35), Salvador Justo (2.25), Kenny Oakley (3.86) and Ty Culbreth (3.06). The collection of talent in Asheville's bullpen ranked among the league's best and will be considered by many as the best in Tourists history.
The Tourists starting pitchers battled all season long. Antonio Santos finished first on the team in wins (9) while Erick Julio tied with Santos for the most strikeouts (106). Riley Pint limited opposing hitters to a .264 batting average and on three separate occasions went a start without allowing an earned run.
Asheville finished with a winning record in each of the final three months of the season; July, August, and September. Their longest game of the year was a 17-inning thriller in Rome in which Asheville came out on top. The Tourists, for the second straight season, led the league in extra-inning games--they played 19 of them.
The Tourists front office extends its deepest thanks to the coaches, the Colorado Rockies, the 46 Tourists players who appeared in at least one game this season, and the fans that helped make 2017 another record-setting year.
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