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MiLB update: Howard quality start, Justus snaps streak

It was another no-decision for Cartersville’s Sam Howard Wednesday night in his six inning start for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League, but the southpaw produced another quality performance in a 5-2 victory at the New Orleans Baby Cakes.

Howard allowed a pair of earned runs on seven hits and two walks in his six innings of work. The runs came on a two-run homer in the first inning off the bat of New Orleans’ first baseman Chris Parmelee to snap a previous shutout string of 13.2 innings by Howard.

Howard picked off one baserunner and produced a pair of sacrifice bunts in his plate appearances.

The 24-year-old former Georgia Southern pitcher selected in the third round of the 2014 draft by the Colorado Rockies, is now 5-6 for the year with a 3.19 ERA. He has 91 strikeouts in 11 starts for Albuquerque and nine starts earlier in the season for the Eastern League, Double-A Hartford Yard Goats.

Albuquerque (58-59) is only one game behind the Salt Lake Bees (LAA) in the PCL Pacific Southern Division.

Former Cartersville High School and Georgia Tech shortstop Connor Justus drove in a run with an RBI single Wednesday night for the Adavanced Class A Inland Empire 66ers of the California League.

Unfortunately, the game resulted in a 6-5 loss for the 66ers, but the hit snapped a five-game hitless streak for Justus.

Justus, 22, 5th-round selection of the Los Angeles Angels in 2016, has a .207 batting average in 96 games this season with five homers, 28 RBIs, 26 extra-base hits, 51 walks, and a dozen stolen bases. His high base on balls rate has his on-base percentage at .325.

The middle infielder has a fielding percentage of .952 in 354 chances this season with 93 starts at shortstop, two at second base, and one as DH.

Inland Empire (23-23, second half) is at the .500 mark for the California League’s second half standings and in third place. They trail the division-leading Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (LA Dodgers affiliate) by six games in the South Division.

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