The pitching matchup last night at Prince George's Stadium was an odd one: The host Bowie Baysox started Matt Riley, a 20-year-old left-hander who throws his fastball more than 90 mph, while the Erie SeaWolves opted for Paul Morse, a 26-year-old right-handed knuckleballer.
Experience prevailed over youth, and Morse led Erie to a 3-1 victory in a Class AA Eastern League game before 4,036. Morse contributed 7 1/3 innings while yielding five hits, six walks and striking out six.
Riley also pitched well, but surrendered a two-run home run to Shawn Wooten in the fourth inning and an RBI double to Michael Wolff in the sixth. Riley (10-5) left after the sixth inning, with nine strikeouts and four walks.
Riley has been pitching in the minor leagues for a little more than a year, but is widely regarded as the Baltimore Orioles' best prospect. Orioles Manager Ray Miller earlier this season recommended that Riley be promoted to Baltimore.
Morse, a six-year minor league veteran, was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1994 and is with his third organization, the Anaheim Angels. Late in the 1997 season, Morse began experimenting with the knuckleball in the bullpen.
Morse, who signed with the Angels this spring, started this season at AAA Edmonton, then was demoted to Erie on June 21. In 12 starts before last night's game, he was 7-5 with a 3.30 earned run average.
"I've only been throwing the knuckleball for a year and a half," said Morse, who worked with former major leaguer Charlie Hough for a year. "It's such a finicky pitch. . . . I think my best knuckleballs are ahead of me."