A Good Start

The Cubs' Double-A affiliate began its post-season quest for the 2005 Southern League championship by blanking Carolina 3-0 on Wednesday night at Pringles Park. Read what some of the Jaxx players had to say afterward.

Second baseman Eric Patterson collected three hits atop the Jaxx lineup with third baseman Casey McGehee, first baseman Brandon Sing and catcher Jose Reyes each adding two hits and an RBI apiece. Shortstop Buck Coats reached base three times and stole two bases.

On the mound, Renyel Pinto tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits to go with six strikeouts and one walk. The left-hander retired the last eight hitters he saw.

Getting off to a good start in a post-season series is important to any team, particularly one riding high after winning their final three games of the regular season to clinch their respective second half division title, as the Jaxx did on Monday with a 5-2 win over Mobile.

"Obviously, Carolina is a good team," said Patterson, who earned a promotion from Class-A Peoria to the Double-A club in late August.

"They're solid all the way around. The biggest thing tonight was to treat it like any other game. Don't treat it like anything different. You get in situations in big games like this and players want to have a lot of adrenaline. That's when you have to slow it down. I just did my job, got on base, and we got a win."

The Jaxx landed the first punch with an RBI single courtesy of McGehee in the first inning off Mudcats starter Ray Aguilar. An RBI single by Reyes in the fourth made it 2-0, and back-to-back doubles by McGehee and Sing to open the seventh made it 3-0.

"It was big to get that first win under our belt and set the tone by getting a run early," McGehee said. "[Aguilar] did a good job of making pitches when he had to. That first run kind of lets everyone settle in and relax. It gives you a little margin of error."

Aguilar went on to allow two runs and eight hits in five innings. The winning pitcher, Pinto, is now victorious in six of his last seven decisions. He finished up the regular season with a 10-3 record and 2.78 ERA in 22 outings with West Tenn.

Right-hander Jon Searles worked the eighth inning in relief, allowing one hit and one strikeout, while Andrew Shipman notched his 16th save of the year in the ninth. Shipman allowed one walk and one hit, recording the game's final out with runners on second and third.

"We knew coming in that Pinto wasn't going to need many runs to give us a good chance to win," McGehee said. "Every additional run we got was all the more precious. He did a great job of silencing their bats. They found a little weight at the end, but Shipman showed why he's been outstanding all year. "

Game 2 of the series is set for Thursday night at Pringles Park. West Tenn's Ricky Nolasco (14-3, 2.89 ERA) is scheduled to meet Carolina's Nick Ungs (7-5, 3.68 ERA). Nolasco was recently named the Southern League's 2005 Most Outstanding Pitcher while Ungs, a 26-year-old right-hander, tossed a no-hitter against the Jaxx back on July 29 at Pringles Park.

"We'll have our work cut out, especially against Ungs," said McGehee, reminiscing about Ungs' last trip to Pringles Park. "We'll have to play smart and we'll have to execute well. Even though some have been plucked from this team and sent to the big leagues, they still have a lot of talent here."

First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. CDT.


Manager Bobby Dickerson returned to the club after recently tending to his home in Laurel, Miss. The city, which is also the birthplace of Cubs pitcher Jermaine Van Buren, was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina early last week. Grady Little served as interim manager in Dickerson's place. Dickerson is in his fourth year as Jaxx manager.

Pitcher Lee Gwaltney was recently placed on the disabled list and was scheduled to visit with doctors on Wednesday. A source close to Gwaltney told Inside The Ivy that the right-hander believes he is suffering from tendonitis.

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