River Cats clinch; Lil'A's fall; Kane County rolls

Sacramento advanced to the championship series and Kane County moved to within one win of the championship series with big victories on Saturday night. Modesto got off to a rough start to their post-season, as they dropped the first game of their series. Find out how the games played out in this edition of <i>Minor League Notebook</i>...

Sacramento River Cats

Sacramento will have a chance to defend their Pacific Coast League Championship, as they secured a first round victory with a 5-2 win over the Portland Beavers. Sacramento will take on the winner of the Iowa Cubs-Oklahoma RedHawks series. That series is currently knotted at two games a piece.

After losing the first game, Sacramento rebounded to take the next three from Portland behind strong pitching and timely hitting. Saturday night's winning starting pitcher was Adam Pettyjohn, who was acquired from the San Francisco Giants organization when Steve Woodward left the team mid-season. Pettyjohn pitched well, going five innings and allowing only single runs in the first and third innings. Mario Ramos and Chris Mabeus combined to throw four shut-out innings, securing the series victory for Sacramento.

Ramos, who began the season in the starting rotation but was moved to the bullpen after a number of poor starts, took over for Pettyjohn in the sixth inning with the River Cats leading 5-2. He retired the first four batters he faced before he allowed a single to Bobby Scales and a walk to Humberto Quintero. Chris Mabeus, who failed to retire a batter in his appearance in Friday night's game, came in for Ramos and struck out Jon Knott (who drove in the Beavers' only two runs) and Yamid Haad to end the 7th. Mabeus retired the side in order in the 8th and then struck out the side in order in the 9th to finish the game. In total, Mabeus faced eight batters, retiring all eight and striking out six. Pettyjohn (8), Ramos (2) and Mabeus (6) combined to strike out 16 Beavers in the game.

The River Cats were losing 1-0 going into the top of the 3rd inning when Dan Johnson drove in two runs on an RBI single to left with two-outs. Johnson finished the game with two hits and a walk and those two RBIs. Portland tied the game in the bottom of the 4th, but Sacramento recaptured the lead – this time for good – when Mike Rivera singled in a run on a one-out single. The River Cats added their final two runs in the bottom of the 5th inning when Mike Edwards doubled home Steve Stanley and Rivera was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

As he was during the regular season, Dan Johnson was the offensive MVP for the River Cats. He hit .400 in the series, compiling six hits, four RBIs and two homeruns. Matt Watson also chipped in with a .333 BA on the series. Sacramento's bullpen was stellar during their three wins. They threw 9 innings, allowing only one run while striking out 13 batters.

Modesto A's

The Modesto A's, first and second-half Northern Division champions, dropped the first game of their playoff series, 7-5, to the San Jose Giants. Starter Matt Lynch got the loss for the A's, allowing five runs in only four innings pitched. The A's had had a first round playoff bye.

Lynch, who won a league-leading 13 games for the A's this season, struggled throughout his outing. He allowed seven hits and two walks, including five doubles. Elvis Avendano relieved Lynch in the 5th inning, but allowed two more runs in his first inning of work. He recovered to throw a scoreless 6th inning and Chris Shank and Shawn Kohn threw three combined shutout innings to keep the Giants to seven runs.

The A's made the game close, scoring single runs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings and two runs in the 8th inning. That two-run rally drew the A's to within two runs of the Giants, but they were unable to make headway against the Giants' closer, Jeremy Accardo.

Third baseman Isaac Garcia went 3-4 with an RBI and Marcus McBeth had a perfect 2-2 night and added a walk. In total, the A's amassed 13 hits and 4 walks, but stranded 8 runners and hit into three double-plays.

Modesto will play San Jose tomorrow night at 5:05 pm PST in Modesto. The A's will send Brad Zeigler to the hill.

Kane County Cougars

Kane County got off to a great start in the Western Division championship series, as they crushed the Clinton Lumber Kings by a score of 18-4. The Cougars scored two in the 1st, six in the 2nd, one in the 3rd, three in the 5th, two in the 7th, one in the 8th and three in the 9th inning. Vasili Spanos and Richie Robnett hit homeruns and every starter except catcher David Harriman had at least one hit. Robnett was promoted to Kane County after the Vancouver Canadians' season ended earlier this week. The A's 2004 first round draft pick had three hits in five official at-bats and scored four runs.

Brian Ingram went 4-6 with three RBIs in the lead-off spot and first baseman Eddie Kim went 3-6 with two doubles and three RBIs. Kim, who has struggled at times this year at the plate, started the Cougars' scoring barrage with a clutch, two-out, two-run RBI double in the top of the 1st inning.

Starter Chris Dunwell ran with the early lead, pitching six solid innings. He gave up all four of the Lumber Kings' runs in the bottom of the 5th inning when he allowed three hits and hit two batters. He gave up only one hit and four walks in his other five innings pitched. JR Pickens threw two scoreless innings in relief, striking out four of seven batters faced and Mike McGirr pitched a scoreless 9th.

The Cougars can clinch a series victory in this best-of-three game set with a win on Sunday in Kane County. Jared Trout will get the start for the Cougars. The game is scheduled to start at 3:05 pm PST.

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