Omaha lost to Albuquerque, 6-5. A five-run top of the 6th inning wasn’t enough for the Storm Chasers. The Isotopes clinched the Pacific Coast League’s American Southern Division. The two teams will finish up their series in Albuquerque on Monday afternoon and fly to Omaha to begin the PCL playoffs on Wednesday.
With the playoffs just three days away, Storm Chasers starter Ryan Verdugo reached his pitch limit after just 2.2 innings (46 pitches). He allowed three runs on five hits and a walk.
Wil Myers (2-for-5) stepped to the plate in the 9th inning with the tying run on third base, but flied out to end the game. Rey Navarro and Adam Moore both collected two hits and Moore hit a two-run homerun.
NW Arkansas lost to Tulsa, 3-1 despite out-hitting the Drillers 10-9. JC Sulbaran finally pitched well for the Naturals since coming over from Cincinnati in the Jonathan Broxton deal. He allowed one run on six hits over seven innings. He walked four and struck out four.
The Naturals scored a run in the 9th inning and had the tying run on base, but could not score. Yem Prades went 2-for-5 and drove in the only run. Brian Fletcher and Kevin Kouzmanoff each collected two hits in the loss.
With just two regular season games left before beginning a playoff series at home, Wilmington fittingly played an extra inning affair on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Rocks lost to visiting Potomac, 4-0 in 11 innings. The P-Nats won in Wilmington for the first time in 2012 (they were 0-8). It was a scoreless affair until that fateful 11th inning when Steven Souza hit a no-doubt grand slam out to left field off losing pitcher Nick Graffeo (who struck out the side in his first inning of work). It came with two outs.
It was a great pitcher’s duel between Blue Rocks starter Andy Ferguson and P-Nats starter Matt Grace. Ferguson allowed seven hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings. He struck out six, as he put himself into the running for a rotation spot for the postseason. Grace, who has struggled all season, allowed six hits and a walk over eight scoreless innings.
The Blue Rocks only had multiple base runners in an inning three times, the final time being the bottom of the 11th inning. They loaded the bases with one out, but couldn’t come up with the clutch hit. Nick Van Stratten and Lane Adams both collected two hits in the loss with Van Stratten extending his hitting streak to nine games.
Ferguson threw 95 pitches, 65 for strikes (by my count). He had three innings where he threw less than ten pitches. Ferguson talked following the game about his outing, the defense being excellent behind him, the potential of him starting in the postseason, and his adjustments to the Carolina League:
With Burlington losing earlier on Sunday, Kane County had a chance to stave off elimination once again. And they did, with a 5-4 win over Peoria in ten innings. Their playoff season will come down to the final game of the regular season. A Cougars win and a Bees loss will send the Cougars to the Midwest League playoffs.
Down 3-0, the Cougars scored three runs in the bottom of the 5th inning with two triples, a double, an RBI ground out, and three wild pitches. Down 4-3 in the 8th inning after a Jorge Soler homerun, Dean Espy drove in the tying run with a single (he went 2-for-4). With two outs and the winning run on second base, Alex Llanos drove in the winning run with a single to set off the celebration (Llanos went 2-for-5).
Bubba Watch: Burlington was one win away from the Appalachian League title, but a long rain delay in Elizabethton delayed the start. They scored three runs early on two homeruns, one by Bubba Starling (a two-run shot that gave the Royals the lead). However in the bottom of the 11th inning, Elizabethton won the game on a wild pitch to force a deciding Game 3. Starling went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts.