M's Minor League Playoff Roundup - 9/9

With Tacoma and San Antonio looking to stave off elimination, the Timber Rattlers were seeking the clincher at home.

Tacoma Stays Alive
By Jason A. Churchill

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Jesse Foppert tossed five solid inning and Shin-soo Choo went 4-for-4 to lead the Rainiers to a 7-4 win in Sacramento on Friday night.

Foppert allowed three runs on three hits and Justin Leone singled in two during a three-run sixth inning for Tacoma.

Cha Seung Baek tossed three strong innings in relief and demonstrated some damage control after the River Cats after Foppert walked Hiram Bocachica to lead off the sixth inning.

Baek allowed an earned run on three hits.

Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera scored the first Rainiers run in the third on a Leone ground out, and Aaron Rifkin drove in Abraham Nunez with two outs to give Tacoma the lead at 2-1.

Tacoma added two runs in the top of the ninth to provide some insurance for closer Masao Kida, who pitched a scoreless bottom half of the ninth to secure the win.

Cabrera, 20, ended the night 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.

Tacoma will send right-hander Francico Cruceta to the mound to try and force game five.

Rattlers Roll into Second Round
By Jeff Harrison

APPLETON, Wisc. - Just looking at the season records it would have been a safe bet that the in-state rivals Beloit and Wisconsin would take it right down to the wire - and they did just that.

It took 10 innings before Mike Wilson ended this series with one swing of the bat. With one out, a runner on first and a tie ball game, Wilson crushed J.P. Martinez's inside fastball to give the Rattlers the 4-2 victory.

"I was trying to get something up in the zone," said Wilson. "I was just trying to see a fastball up and fortunately he threw me a fastball in and I just slammed it."

After four series splits and a decisive game three the in state rivalry finally ended with the Rattlers taking the overall series 10-9. And the Rattlers couldn't have been more thrilled about putting the Snappers to rest.

"We really wanted to get on top of them," said Wilson. "We've split the series and they've been a pretty tough team."

The win sends the Rattlers to the second round of the playoffs where they will face the Clinton Lumber Kings, tomorrow night in Clinton, Iowa.

The Rattlers bats were hot early for the second night in a row. Oswaldo Navarro, who provided fireworks last night, went yard in the bottom of the first inning off Beloit right-hander Kevin Slowey. And in the second inning Brent Johnson drove Brandon Green home from third base with a double to center to make put the Rattlers up 2-0.

Robert Rorhbaugh, making his Rattlers debut, looked good until the top of the fifth inning when Johnny Woodard hit a two run blast off of Rohrbaugh. The two run shot, which was Woodard's first hit of the series, tied the game at two apiece.

Slowey continued to keep the Rattlers bat in check. After Johnson's RBI double in the second inning the Rattlers couldn't must a base hit until Johnson reached again on a single in the bottom of the seventh.

Rohrbaugh got into a bit of trouble in the seventh inning when Paul Kelly led off with an infield single and was hit by a pitch. The next play Rohrbaugh played a sacrifice bunt perfectly to nail Kelly at third.

"We thought (Rohrbaugh) would be nervous coming in but he went out there and did his job, threw strikes and made a good play on that bunt," said Wilson.

The Rattlers brought in Jon Lockwood who used fielder's choice and a clutch strikeout of Trevor Plouffe to end the Snappers hopes of taking the lead.

The Snappers continued to fight back when David Winfree led off the top of the eighth with a stand up double, his third hit of the game. Winfree advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Deacon Burns. But Lockwood again showed his ability to come through in the clutch by forcing Chris Brown to pop up and Jeremy Pickrel to ground out to secondbase.

Rattlers killer J.P. Martinez, who saw his streak of scoreless innings come to an end at 18.1, took over for Slowey in the bottom of the eighth inning and shut the Rattlers down.

Things looked bad for the Rattlers again in the top of the ninth inning when Kelly led off with a line shot to center. But Kelly tried stretching it to a double and was thrown out at second. Lockwood again closed out the inning by Woodard and forcing Javi Sanchez to pop up.

"I knew that in the seventh and eighth if I gave up a run it was probably the game," said Lockwood. "So I tried to stay ahead, throw quality pitches, and not make mistakes over the plate."

Things got tight in the bottom of the ninth inning. Martinez struck out Tuiasosopo and Brandon Green before giving up a triple by Josh Womack to the corner in right field. But Martinez crushed the Rattlers hopes in the inning by getting Johnson to ground out to second.

Lockwood shut down the Snappers in the top of 10th inning and allowed the fireworks to come in the bottom of the inning.

Jones, Huber help Missions Force Game Five
By Joe Ruiz

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Oh, the storylines were aplenty from the Wolff Friday evening.

Somebody's birthday, a big slump, win or go home and a waxing gibbous moon looking down on right field were all a piece of the San Antonio Missions 5-1 victory over the Midland Rockhounds to take the Texas League's Western Division to a one-game, winner goes to the championship series matchup tomorrow night.

Shortstop Adam Jones broke out of a 1-for-15 slump with one swing in the bottom of the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie by placing Midland LHP Steven Bondurant's pitch over the left-field wall.

"The whole series, when I've been down two strikes, they've been trying to come in and I've been fouling them off," Jones said. "So on 0-2, I knew he was going to come in and he did and I just got it."

Missions righty Jon Huber led the way on the mound going six innings and giving up two hits and one unearned run.

"I knew I could beat these guys and the goal was to keep us close in the game," Huber said.

Midland's only run came when shortstop Mark Kiger scored on Brian Stavisky's sacrifice fly to left. Kiger singled to start the game and reached third base after Missions backstop Luis Oliveros threw the ball away on Kiger's attempt to steal second.

San Antonio right fielder Jon Nelson scored the Missions first run when 3B Jesus Guzman singled to left after the throw from the outfield was cutoff.

All of the Missions runs came with two outs, including the three-spot they dropped on the Rockhounds in the fifth after Jones' home run.

"Once (Midland) got that run, we just said ‘whatever, it's just one run'," he said. "Last night, we didn't come through when we had runners in scoring position, but tonight we did."

Missions centerfielder Gary Harris led off the sixth inning by taking the first pitch down the right-field line for a home run and celebrated his 26th birthday by finishing 1-for-3 on the night and ending up with a team-leading three RBI in the series.

San Antonio went 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position Friday evening while Midland went 0-for-7.

Right-handrr Juan Sandoval is scheduled to take the ball for the Missions and lefty Drew Dickinson will go for Midland.

The decisive game moves to Midland with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CDT Saturday evening. The game can be heard by using the "Listen Live" link on the InsideThePark.com homepage.

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