Midland Mounts Late Rally, Evens Series
Needing a win to avoid heading home facing elimination, the Midland RockHounds scored twice in the sixth to tie the game at three and then three more times in the ninth to earn a 6-3 win. Midland now has homefield advantage, as the best-of-five series becomes a best-of-three with the next two games at Citibank Ballpark in Midland.
A night after the RockHounds committed three errors, it was the RoughRiders' turn to boot the ball around. Frisco committed four errors, including three by catcher Jorge Alfaro. The four errors resulted in only one unearned run, however. Midland also scored a run on a wild pitch and another on a balk.
The RockHounds had 10 hits and eight walks in the win. Kenny Wilson had three hits, while Kent Matthes and A's 2014 top pick Matt Chapman each had two. Chapman also walked. He got the start in the game a night after Max Muncy started at third for Midland in Game One. Muncy moved to first in Game Two, as Game One first baseman Hiroyuki Nakajima broke his hand in a collision at first in that game. Nakajima will miss the rest of the series and is out for the year.
The RockHounds were set to have Texas League All-Star Chris Jensen make the start on Thursday, but he was a late scratch with illness. Tim Sexton got the spot start and threw well in a short outing, allowing two runs in three inning. Ryan Doolittle allowed a run in two innings in relief of Sexton, but Frank Gailey, Ryan Dull and Jose Flores combined to throw four scoreless to close out the game. Gailey got the win and Flores earned the save by leaving the bases-loaded in the bottom of the ninth.
Ports Drop Pitcher's Duel; Stellar Season Ends
The 2014 Stockton Ports had an outstanding season, but they fell short of their goal of a California League title, losing a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Visalia Rawhide. The Rawhide advance to the Cal League semi-finals.
The game featured a stellar match-up of two tough lefties: Stockton's Chris Lamb and Visalia's Andrew Barbosa. Both pitchers dueled into the sixth inning. Lamb was touched for single runs in the fifth and the sixth, but he pitched very well. The Berkeley native struck-out eight and didn't walk a batter. He made one mistake, a pitch to Rudy Flores in the sixth that resulted in a solo homer. That run would be the difference in the game.
Barbosa was nearly unhittable, facing the minimum through five (two runners reached but were erased by caught stealing). In the sixth, he ran into some trouble, however. Tyler Marincov led-off the inning with a long drive to left that was caught on the track. Jaycob Brugman followed with a groundball single to center and Boog Powell bunted for a hit to give the Ports runners at second and third. Daniel Robertson followed with a walk to load the bases and Chad Pinder hit a sacrifice fly to left to score the Ports' only run. Matt Olson made a bid for a three-run homer, but his high fly ball to center was caught at the track.
Brendan McCurry and Austin House combined to keep the game close in relief. McCurry, making only his second appearance at the High-A level, pitched 2.1 outstanding innings. He allowed just two hits and he struck-out three and walked none. McCurry also made an outstanding defensive play on a high chopper to the mound. House had a dominant ninth inning, retiring the Rawhide in order with two flyouts and a strike-out.
In the ninth, the Ports had a chance to tie or win it. Enrique Burgos, the Rawhide closer, came into the game with 29 saves in 30 chances. He struggled out of the gate, however, walking Robertson to start the inning. Pinder followed with a single and Olson worked a full-count before drawing a walk to load the bases. Unfortunately, the Ports' rally would end there. Renato Nunez hit into a fielder's choice force out at home and Beau Taylor popped out before Ryon Healy struck-out swinging to end the game.
The Ports finished the season with an 85-55 regular season record and a season filled with standout performances.