It’s Kate and Ethan, back at it again for day 2 of the minor-league playoffs. You can catch up with the Day 1 action here. Today we had a full slate of games, as the AquaSox returned to play after being rained out yesterday, and no one has been eliminated yet. Remember, you can follow all the games on the free First Pitch app, or listen for free on TuneIn radio.
Tacoma 1 - El Paso 7 (AAA)
Best-of-five series tied, 1-1
Tacoma turned in a stinker in game two of their five-game series with El Paso. The Rainiers managed 10 hits on the night, but only mustered a single run in a woeful 7-1 loss.
Cody Martin and Zach Lee split up the night and both were largely ineffective. Martin started off the night well, beginning with five straight strikeouts, but would surrender four runs on six hits in five innings; Lee allowed three runs in his three innings of work. Martin did manage to strike out eight in the outing, but the Chihuahuas were too much for the lowly pitching of Tacoma.
Perhaps the toughest part of the night came in the fourth when old friend Patrick Kivlehan singled and eventually scored to put El Paso ahead 3-0 (two runs scored on the play). The very next inning, Kivlehan drew a walk and stole second base. I miss you, Kiv.
The Rainiers’ lone run came in the seventh, when James Ramsey rolled a ball through the infield to score Mike Baxter. Outside of that moment, the night was full of stranded baserunners, disappointment, and baseball. Stefen Romero also recorded three hits, because that is just what Stefen Romero does: hit the living tar out of Triple-A pitchers.
Thankfully for the Rainiers, the rest of the series will take place in Tacoma starting tomorrow. It is now a best-of-three series, with the Rainiers holding home field advantage for eternity. Best of luck to the Rainiers the rest of the way.
Jackson Generals 2 - Montgomery Biscuits 1 (AA)
Jackson leads best-of-five series, 2-0
Tyler O’Neill provided the offensive fireworks last night with a dramatic extra-innings walkoff home run; today it was both of the Tylers, O’Neill and catcher Tyler Marlette, teaming up for a pair of solo home runs that proved to be all the Generals would need to squeeze out a win over the Biscuits. Top prospect Brent Honeywell, pitching for Montgomery, turned in a fine performance over seven innings, striking out seven and giving up just one walk, but the two Tylers got the better of him in consecutive innings. Brett Ash turned in six solid innings for the Generals, and even though he didn’t have his best stuff—no strikeouts, and he only threw 54 of his 91 pitches for strikes—he was able to generate a ton of ground ball outs and let his strong defensive infield of Adam Law, Benji Gonzalez, and Tim Lopes do the rest of the work, including an awesome snare by Adam Law at third when Brian O’Connor smoked a line drive to him at 106 mph. Montgomery’s only run, their first in the 14.75 innings since the series began, came in the 6th, when definitely-not-a-golem Cade Gotta walked and stole second before Patrick Leonard singled him home. Ryne Harper and his deadly curveball (which needs a nickname—the Harpoon? The Lorelai?) took over in the seventh and eighth for the hold, and then Matt Anderston, stepping into the closer role for the departed Dan Altavilla (who in turn had stepped into the role for the departed Edwin Díaz), closed things out with an exclamation point by striking out the final batter. The series returns to Montgomery tomorrow at 5:05 PT with the Generals looking for a sweep with Paul Blackburn on the mound, acquired from Chicago in the Mike Montgomery trade.
Bakersfield Blaze 7 - San Jose Giants 1 (A+)
Best of three series tied, 1-1
Zack Littell made sure that professional baseball in Bakersfield had one more day in the sun, as the righty surrendered just one run over 7.1 innings in what truly was one of the better performances of the year from a pitching prospect.
Littell struck out eleven over the course of the night, with his only blemish coming on a Bryan Reynolds home run in the 7th. Overall, Littell gave up just four hits and one walk and recorded a game score of 76. He threw 75 of his 106 pitches for strikes.
Drew Jackson led the offense for the second straight night, coming up a home run short of the cycle in a three-hit performance. 1B Kyle Petty and 3B Joe DeCarlo bashed solo homers to back Littell, as well.
The Blaze and the Giants will square off in a decisive game three Friday night at 7:15 pm at Sam Lynn Ballpark. It could be the final game the Bakersfield Blaze ever play, or it could be a part of a magical playoff run. Either way, it’s been a wild ride and they should be proud as hell of all they’ve done. Sam Lynn was nearly sold out for yesterday’s game and Friday will probably be the same; it’s nice to tune in and hear the fans cheering.
Clinton LumberKings 4 - Peoria Chiefs 3 (A)
Clinton WINS best-of-three series, 2-0
The LumberKings rode the arms of Luiz Gohara and Luis Liberato to a game two victory over the Peoria Chiefs, 4-3, giving them a clean sweep in the best-of-three series.
For most of the night, Gohara was his typical dominant self. The lefty struck out eight over six innings and carried a shutout into the seventh inning before the Chiefs tagged him for three runs on two homers. He threw 60 of his 81 pitches for strikes and was overwhelming the vast majority of the time. Prior to the blip in the seventh, the only baserunners he surrendered came on infield singles.
Things got very interesting in the ninth, when the Chiefs put the tying run on second. With two outs, Chiefs outfielder Mangeuris Sierra grounded a single to left fielder Luis Liberato. Liberato picked the ball up in stride and fired a strike to catcher Arturo Nieto to nab the tying run, clinching the game and the series.
The LumberKings had several contributors on offense. OF Alex Jackson started things off by doubling home Liberato in the third. Two innings later, Jackson and OF Conner Hale would come around to score on a RBI double by Nieto. Their final (and playoff-clinching) run would come via a Chris Mariscal home run.
The LumberKings will play Cedar Rapids in the next round of the Midwest League playoffs. The best-of-three series will run Saturday through Monday.
Everett AquaSox 8 - Spokane Indians 5
Everett leads best-of-three series, 1-0
Bryson Brigman collected two hits, scored a run and drove in two more, helping the AquaSox to an 8-5 victory over the Spokane Indians in their playoff opener.
The AquaSox jumped ahead in the third inning on RBI singles from Brigman and OF Eric Filia, along with a sac fly from INF Nick Zammarelli. One inning later, an Austin Grebeck RBI groundout and a Spokane error made it 5-1.
The rest of the game was a combination of the AquaSox bullpen hanging on for dear life while the offense tacked on a few insurance runs. Lane Ratliff picked up the win for Everett, tossing two shutout innings of relief.
Game Two of the series will be played tonight at Safeco Field. If you’re in the Seattle area, you can get a ticket for the game at the Safeco Field box office for only twelve bucks, which will allow you to sit in the box seats and pretend to be a fancy version of yourself (I’m naming my alter-ego Phinneas). Gates are at 6 p.m., and the game starts at 7:15.