Missions eliminated, AquaSox stay in playoff hunt

With Triple-A Tacoma being eliminated on Friday night, Double-A San Antonio and Short-season Everett look to prolong their season for at least another day. Check out Saturday night's action as pennant fever continues down on the farm.

Done rocked early as Round Rock clinches playoff berth
Needing to win both Saturday and Sunday to advance to the Texas League playoffs, the San Antonio Missions came up short on the front-end of the task, losing 12-4 to the Round Rock Express at The Wolff in San Antonio, Tex.

Missions's starter Juan Done couldn't last five innings, and was touched for seven runs (five earned) in 4.2 innings of work. He also gave up nine hits to the Express, which took an early lead with three runs in the third, another in the fourth and a five-spot in the fifth.

Despite their best efforts, the Missions (36-31) never recovered.

Shin-Soo Choo provided one of the lone bright spots for the Mariners' Double-A affiliate on the night, going 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. Choo, one of the top two outfielders in the M's system along with Tacoma center fielder Jeremy Reed, now has 15 homers and 84 RBI on the season with one game to play. As it stands now, he's at 39 stolen bases, needing one against Round Rock on Sunday to get to the illustrious 40-mark.

Hunter Brown, Jon Lindsey and catcher Rich Rodriguez had two hits apiece for the Missions.

San Antonio's starter for the season finale is somewhat up in the air. Felix Hernandez was schedule to pitch, but with the team now officially eliminated his start may be skipped. At 18-years-old, the Mariners' organization doesn't want to wear out his arm any more than they have to.

Trolia superb in Everett's win, giving AquaSox hope heading into season finale
With a little help from Lady Luck, the AquaSox still have life heading into their season finale on Sunday against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Heading into Friday, Everett trailed Vancouver by three games with three games left to be played for each. But consecutive losses by Vancouver and two-straight wins by the AquaSox, including their 8-3 victory over the Volcanoes on Saturday, puts them in position to still have an outside shot at making the Northwest League playoffs.

Vancouver, which has had a magic number of one since games started on Friday, will try to take matters into their own hands and win their way into a playoff spot on Sunday against Eugene. A win by the Canadians and it won't matter what Everett (40-35) does. A Vancouver loss coupled by an AquaSox victory, and it's playoff time in Everett, since the Mariners' Low-A affiliate holds the tie-breaker between the two clubs.

On Saturday, the AquaSox put the ball in the hands of Aaron Trolia, a Washington State product who began the season as the team's closer in June. Unfazed by the pressure that came with the start, Trolia answered by tossing his best game as a pro, limiting Salem-Keizer to two runs on two hits over 7.2 innings.

Cibney Bello came in to record the final four outs of the game with the outcome already well in hand. Trolia earned the win to improve to 2-3 on the season.

That late cushion in the final innings came thanks in large part to the well-rounded offensive attack by the AquaSox, which had each starter get a hit in the team's 15-hit effort. Outfielder Mike Wilson led the way with three base knocks, while Brandon Green, Yung-Chi Chen, Marshall Hubbard and Matt Tuiasosopo each added two.

The AquaSox have two candidates to throw against the Volcanoes in Sunday's regular season finale. Shawn Nottingham, the team's ace all season long, pitched two innings on Thursday and would be available to go. Aaron Jensen, who lasted just 1.2 innings and gave up four runs on five hits in his last start on Tuesday, is another option Everett could turn to.

Check back with InsidethePark.com on Sunday night to see if the AquaSox can pull off the near impossible and advance to the playoffs after having their backs against the wall.

In other news:

Tacoma (78-64) split a double-header on Saturday, losing the first game to Tucson, 2-1, and rebounding to win the second with a 2-0 shutout. The Rainiers, whom were eliminated from the playoffs on Friday, have two home games remaining on the season. Both Sunday and Monday's games are scheduled for 1:35 p.m. at Cheney Stadium.

Inland Empire (42-26 in the second half), already a lock to make the California League playoffs, pounded out 16 hits on Saturday but lost anyway, falling 13-8 to Rancho Cucamonga. Torrid-hitting third baseman Jesus Guzman and second baseman Michael Garciaparra led the Sixty Sixers' batters with three hits apiece. Four others finished with two.

One-time top prospect RHP Rett Johnson started the game for Inland and was pounded for nine runs on 11 hits in just 3.1 innings. Rancho Cucamonga went ahead 9-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, and never looked back.

Inland will play host to Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday and Monday to round out regular season play. The playoffs will begin shortly thereafter.

Stay logged in to InsidethePark.com as we bring you all the action from Arrowhead Credit Union Ballpark.

Last but not least, the Mid-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers lost their fifth-straight game on Saturday and 17th in their last 20 games, falling 6-2 to Fort Wayne. The offense managed just five hits on the day, giving Michael Moorehead (9-10) the hard-luck loss. Moorhead struck out nine and gave up three runs in 6.2 innings of work before giving away to the bullpen, but the Rattlers couldn't manage to get back into the game. Wisconsin (26-42 in the second half) rounds out the season with two more home games, facing Fort Wayne for a pair of afternoon affairs on Sunday and Monday.

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