Sacramento River Cats
The River Cats' dropped their playoff opener, 7-2, to the Portland Beavers in Sacramento. The Beavers, who recently split a four-game regular season-ending series against Sacramento, jumped out in front early in this game. Portland scored single runs in each of the first three innings off of starter and eventual loser John Rheinecker. Rheinecker settled down for awhile after the third inning, allowing the River Cats the opportunity to climb back into the game. PCL MVP Dan Johnson hit a solo homerun off of Portland starter Brian Sweeney to begin the sixth inning, cutting the score to 3-1. Mike Edwards followed the homer with a triple and he scored one batter later on an RBI sacrifice fly by Matt Watson. Graham Koonce followed with a walk, but the River Cats could not advance him further then second base, and their threat to tie the game died there.
Rheinecker, who had faced the minimum in each of his previous three innings of work, retired the first batter in the top of the seventh before giving up consecutive singles. He was then lifted in favor of reliever Chris Mabeus, who had done an excellent job working at the end of the game for Sacramento all season. Mabeus was unable to do the job this evening, however, as he immediately gave up a three-run homerun to Jon Knott on a 1-0 pitch. He then walked the next two batters on consecutive full counts and was lifted for lefty Ron Flores. Flores struck out the dangerous Jake Gautreau, but allowed an RBI single to Ben Risinger. That single increased the lead to 7-2, a count that would stand through the rest of the game.
The best-of-five game series resumes tomorrow at Raley Field in Sacramento at 6:30 p.m. PST.
Kane County Cougars
The Cougars dropped a heartbreaker in their playoff series opener, losing 3-2 to the Peoria Chiefs in the 12th inning on a walk-off, solo homerun by Anthony Monegan. Kane County has won games on the strength of their pitching all season and for awhile it looked like the Cougars were going to get another pitching gem.
Starter Trent Peterson pitched a shutout through six innings and entered the bottom of the seventh inning holding a 2-0 advantage. The Cougars had built that lead with a two-run fifth inning that began with back-to-back doubles by Danny Putnam and Trevor Brown. Eddie Kim followed Brown's RBI double with a strikeout, but David Castillo singled Brown to third and Brown then came around to score on Kory Wayment's RBI single to right. The Cougars had a chance to add on more runs when they loaded the bases on a two-out walk by Nick Rogers later in the inning. However, that rally ended when Luke Appert grounded back to starter Michael Parisi.
Peterson allowed back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the seventh inning and was replaced by reliever Dan Fyvie. Fyvie made his outing even more difficult when he failed to field a bunt attempt by Jarrett Houffpauir, loading the bases with no outs. Fyvie then induced a run-scoring double-play and had a chance to get out of the inning with a one-run lead. However, John Paul Davis singled through the hole on the right side of the infield on a 1-2 count to tie up the ballgame.
The game remained tied through regulation. The Cougars had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the top of the 10th inning, when they were able to load the bases with only one out. However, Vasili Spanos, one of the Cougars' best hitters this season, struck out and Putnam flew out to rightfield to end the threat. Peoria mounted a small rally in the bottom of the 11th, as they had two men on with two outs, but Jose Corchado was able to strikeout Steve Sherman to end the threat. Corchado wasn't so fortunate in the bottom of the 12th inning. Beginning his third inning of work, Corchado struck out Joe Mather to start the inning. Then he fell behind Anthony Monegan, 2-1, and left a pitch out over the plate that Monegan could handle. Monegan sent it over the left-centerfield wall, and the Chiefs had the first game of the series.
The two teams head to Kane County tomorrow, where they will meet for the second game of the series at 4:30 p.m. PST. The Cougars will need to pull off a victory tomorrow to avoid elimination.
Minor League Notebook: Playoff Game Recap – 9/8
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