Low-A: Hickory 1, at Delmarva (BAL) 0 (10)
Hickory wins semifinal 2-0
SP Abdiel Mendoza: 6.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO
RP Hever Bueno: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R 0 BB, 3 SO
RP Kelvin Gonzalez: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
RF Pedro Gonzalez: 2-4, SB
LF Ryan Anderson: 2-4
SS Frainyer Chavez: 1-2 2 walks
In the 10th, Kole Enright (walk), Matt Whatley (HBP) and Frainyer Chavez (walk) loaded the bases with none out, and Enright scampered home on Jax Biggers' safety squeeze to score the game's only run. Miguel Aparicio tired to mimic Biggers' accomplishment, but Delmarva forced out Whatley at home.
Abdiel Mendoza threw the game of his life, taking a no-hitter into the 6th and limiting the Shorebirds to a single, walk and hit batter. Hever Bueno did the same, retiring seven straight. Kelvin Gonzalez worked around a single in the 10th.
Delmarva's Gray Fenter lost his no-hit bid early but was no less dominant, striking out 13 of 23 batters.
In the series, Hickory batted only .161/.235/.258 with a 39% strikeout rate but won both games. Jonathan Ornelas was not in last night's lineup.
Poor Delmarva. The Shorebirds reached the playoffs for the first time since 2005 and posted the first 90-win season in the league since 2006, and they're two and out. Minor league playoffs are capricious and cruel.
In the finals, Hickory will face KC-affiliated Lexington, which had a losing record in the regular season but swept 77-61 Augusta.
Short-A: Spokane 2, at Tri-City (SDG) 3 (10)
Spokane loses best-of-three semifinals 1-2
SP Joshua Javier: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R< 3 BB, 1 SO
RP Luis Rosario: 4.2 IP< 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO
RP Werner Leal: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
CF Kellen Strahm: 2-5, double
SS Derwin Barreto: 2-4, walk
LF Luis Asuncion: 1-3, double, 2 walks
Capricious and cruel, I say!. Last year, you knew of Emmanuel Clase's rapid ascent to prospect status, but to most of the baseball world he was the guy who stumbled off the mound with a runner on third to hand Eugene the Northwest League championship. Spokane was eliminated in similar fashion in 2019, as Nic Laio issued a four-pitch bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 10th. Laio had only a 5% BB rate during the season, but he walked the leadoff batter, and after an out and a single to put runners at the corners. After an intentional pass to put a force on, Laio couldn't find the zone.
Tri-City tried so very hard to give the series away: three hit batters, three errors, five wild pitches, a passed ball. Six of Spokane's ten runs were influenced by or directly resulting from Dust Devil miscues. But Spokane couldn't generate much offense on its own, going 3-for-23 with runners in scoring position and hitting into six double plays.
Last night, Spokane stranded 12, mostly after Tri-City built an early 2-0 leaad. The 6th hurt the most, as leadoff walks by Heriberto Hernandez and Luis Asuncion went for naught. Kenen IriIzarry, --.342 OBP, not grounder-prone, zero career GIDP -- tried and failed to bunt the runners over with counts of 1-0 and 2-1 and ended up striking out. I absolutely loathe bunting in that situation, but I'm not in charge. Davis Wendzel (1-5, 1-13 for the series) singled to load the bases, but a strikeout and fly out ended the threat.
Spokane didn't produce another runner until one out in the 9th, when the offense suddenly sparked. Pinch-hitter Alexander Ovalles and Kellen Strahm singled, and an error by the shortstop on a Derwin Barreto grounder cut the deficit in half. After a Blaine Crim ground out, David Garcia singled in Strahm to tie it. Heriberto Hernandez (.300/.417/.900 in the series) struck out to end the inning, and Spokane couldn't add much in the 10th, leading to the walk-off.
Joshua Javier lost his way early and was a necessarily quick pull after 18 balls out of 30 pitches. Joe Corbett (0.2 IP) and Werner Leal pitched effectively on one day of rest. Tri-City starter Nick Thwaits was as shaky as I could have hoped (4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 BB), but Spokane couldn't capitalize.
Ah, well. Spokane had a fine season and will combine with several from the rookie squad to present another interesting Hickory team in 2020.
Tri-City will play Arizona-affiliated Hillsboro in the finals.
Five Years Ago Yesterday
Two error and walk-marred middle innings cost Frisco a 3-1 lead and the league semifinals. In the series, Jorge Alfaro threw out three of five runners and committed four errors. Myrtle Beach won the opener of the Carolina League finals 2-0 on an unlikely homer from middle infielder Edwin Garcia. Myrtle's starting pitching, the squad's relative weak link, had allowed only two runs in 23.1 postseason innings.
High-A: Tim Brennan and Noah Bremer, I believe (doubleheader)