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Andy Van Hekken hopes for September promotion to Astros

BY ED GODFREY, Staff Writer, Published: August 28, 2011

RedHawks' hurler Andy Van Hekken hasn't pitched in the major leagues in nine years. His manager, Tony DeFrancesco, is wishing that changes soon.

“Hopefully, he will get a chance in September and help the Astros down the finish line,” DeFrancesco said Sunday after Van Hekken pitched Oklahoma City to a 2-1 victory over the Iowa Cubs at RedHawks Field in Bricktown.

Van Hekken scattered six hits over 5 2/3 innings and allowed just one run on a scorching Sunday afternoon to improve to 8-6 on the season. Game time temperature was 106 degrees.

The left-hander started the day with the second best ERA in the Pacific Coast League at 3.51, which Van Hekken lowered to 3.42 after Sunday's contest.

Last week, Van Hekken faced the Cubs in Des Moines, Iowa, and gave up seven earned runs and 11 hits in four innings. On Sunday, he was a different pitcher.

“I just kept the ball down a lot better,” Van Hekken said. “The last time I faced them, I got behind a lot, left my pitches up in the zone. For the most part (on Sunday), I just kept the ball down and mixed up my pitches a lot.”

Van Hekken has been the most consistent pitcher for the RedHawks this season. He started the season in the bullpen and made 16 relief appearances before moving into the starting rotation when Jordan Lyles was called up to Houston.

Van Hekken has started 18 games, and his ERA trails only the 2.15 ERA of Luis Mendoza of Omaha as the league's best.

“Andy has been one of our best pitchers. There has been no doubt,” DeFrancesco said. “He has a chance to be our team MVP.”

Van Hekken is in his 14th season of professional baseball. He made five appearances with the Detroit Tigers in 2002, going 1-3 with an ERA of 3.00.

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