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Minor League Playoff Update

Zach Warren
Zach Warren locked down Lakewood’s 4-2 win over Kannapolis in the opening game of the SAL playoffs on Wednesday September 5, 2018. (Photo courtesy Lakewood BlueClaws)

IronPigs get walked-off on in opener

In game one with the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, Mark Payton homered to right field to walk-off the RailRiders in a 3-2 win over Lehigh Valley Wednesday night.

The Railriders took a 1-0 lead against Enyel De Los Santos in the bottom of the third inning. After Erik Swanson had stranded the bases loaded in the top half of the inning, the Railriders took the lead on a RBI fielder’s choice by Payton.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning against De Los Santos. A single by Gio Urshella skipped past left-fielder Danny Ortiz to score Francisco Diaz making it 2-0 Railriders.

Brady Lail took over for Swanson in the top of the fourth inning and provided two perfect innings for the Railriders. Lail in three post-season games against the IronPigs is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA allowing just two runs over 12 innings.

Justus Sheffield was next out of the pen for the Railriders in the top of the sixth. With two outs and Mitch Walding on first, the IronPigs strung together three straight hits to tie the game at two. An infield single by Andrew Knapp and a throwing error by Urshella made it 2-1. One batter later with runners on the corners, Trevor Plouffe single to left to tie the game at two.

De Los Santos went six-innings and allowed seven hits and walked one. He was charged with two runs, one earned and struck out six but did not earn a decision. Edgar Garcia was first out of the pen for the IronPigs and worked a scoreless seventh. After retiring the first two hitters of the inning, Payton singled and Urshella drove one to the wall in right field by Ryan Goins tracked it down to end the frame.

With runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth against Tyler Gilbert (0-1); Gary Jones elected to load the bases with an international walk. Gilbert rebounded get LJ Mazzilli to ground into an inning ending 5-4-3 double play.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Payton homered to right field to give the Railriders the game one victory. The Railriders are now 4-0 against the IronPigs at home with two-walk off wins in the Governor’s Cup Playoffs.

Game Two: Cole Irvin (14-4, 2.57) will be opposed by Nestor Cortes (6-6, 3.71) on Thursday night at PNC Field in Moosic.

Elsewhere: Toledo downed Durham 10-3 Wednesday night to take a 1-0 lead in the other ILDS. The two teams meet again Thursday night with Toledo throwing Jacob Turner (3-4, 3.50) going against Durham’s Austin Pruitt (3-0, 2.95).

Daytona evens series with Clearwater thanks to 6-5 game two win

Clearwater jumped out to an early 4-0 lead on Wednesday night, but the Daytona Tortugas surged for six runs over the first two innings and held off the Threshers 6-5 to force a decisive game three in the Florida State League North division series.

The winner of Thursday night’s contest will face off against the Fort Myers Miracle in the FSL Championship series beginning on Friday. The Miracle won the South by defeating the Palm Beach Cardinals, two games to none.

The Threshers led early on Wednesday, grabbing a four-run lead in the top of the first. Daniel Brito got it going with a leadoff single, and a fielding error on third baseman Brantley Bell allowed Arquimedes Gamboa to reach and Brito to sprint into third.

With one out, Henri Lartigue came through, getting Clearwater on the board with an RBI single to left-center. Luke Williams and Edgar Cabral each added run-scoring singles of their own, and Grenny Cumana sent a sacrifice fly to right to score Williams and make it 4-0.

Daytona cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the inning.

With two outs, a single, an error, and a wild pitch put two men in scoring position, and Courtney Hawkins grounded a base-hit up the middle to bring Daytona to within two.

The Tortugas overtook Clearwater for their first lead of the series in the second. Three straight hits and an error opened the inning against Alejandro Requena, and one out later, Taylor Trammell‘s two-run single gave Daytona a 6-4 lead.

Clearwater inched closer in the fourth. With two outs, Brito was hit by a pitch, and Gamboa lined a single to center. Mickey Moniak followed by striking a line drive to centerfield to score Brito and bring Clearwater to within one, trailing 6-5.

Alberto Tirado worked around a bases-loaded, no out situation in the bottom half, striking out a pair before getting Hawkins to fly out to left-center to end the threat.

After Tirado turned in 2 2/3 scoreless, Jonathan Hennigan spun two perfect innings in relief, picking up a pair of strikeouts in the sixth.

JD Hammer issued a leadoff walk in the seventh, before Kevin Markham made a diving catch on a Tyler Stephenson fly in foul territory and managed to double off Trammell at first after he failed to tag up. Jakob Hernandez worked a scoreless eighth.

Joel Kuhnel and Ryan Hendrix combined to keep Clearwater off the board in the final three innings, sending the series to a decisive game three on Thursday.

Game Three: Clearwater has Mauricio Llovera (8-7, 3.72) on the mound in game two tonight, while Kannapolis goes with Austin Orewiler (5-5, 3.72).

BlueClaws take 4-2 win to open series in Kannapolis

Dalton Guthrie scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the ninth inning and Zach Warren slammed the door to give the BlueClaws a 4-2 win at Kannapolis in Game One of the South Atlantic League Northern Division Championship Series on Wednesday.

Lakewood returns home on Friday night with a chance to sweep the Intimidators in the best-of-three series and advance to their fifth SAL Championship Series.

Madison Stokes started the ninth inning with a double before Guthrie came in as a pinch-runner. Colby Fitch followed with a single that moved Guthrie to third and Fitch to second on the throw home. With Jose Antequera batting, a Will Kincanon wild pitch scored Guthrie. Antequera followed with an RBI single to put the BlueClaws up 4-2.

Warren came on in the ninth and struck out all three hitters he faced to slam the door. Warren has struck out 49 of the last 76 hitters he’s faced.

Jake Elliott (0-1) was charged with both runs in the ninth and suffered the loss.

James McArthur (1-0) threw two scoreless innings to earn the win in relief. He was aided by left fielder Matt Vierling, who threw Tate Blackman out at home plate to end the eighth and preserve the 2-2 tie.

Trailing 2-0, the BlueClaws tied the game with two runs in the fourth. Rodolfo Duran led off the inning with a home run after he led the team with 18 in the regular season. Jhailyn Ortiz followed with a double and he was tripled home by Nick Maton to tie the score.

Kannapolis took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on RBI singles from Tate Blackman and Carlos Perez off Andrew Brown.

Those runs, however, would be the only two allowed by the right-hander. The 20-year old gave up two runs over six innings while striking out four.

Intimidators starter Zach Lewis gave up two runs over six innings while striking out eight. He did not factor in the decision.

The BlueClaws are now 19-7 all-time in the playoffs including 9-1 in the opening round.

Game Two: RHP Spencer Howard (9-8, 3.78) starts for the BlueClaws opposite LHP Parker Rigler (6-9, 4.43). The BlueClaws can sweep the best-of-three series or Kannapolis can force a decisive game three Saturday.

Elsewhere:  Lexington beat Rome 3-1 in the opener of their series. Nick Pratto, the Royals number-six prospect, had a home run, two RBI and stole two bases in the win. The teams play game two Friday night in Rome, Georgia. Daniel Lynch (5-1, 1.58) starts for Lexington against Rome’s Walter Korkovich (4-1, 1.83).

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