Pulaski Plays For Appy League Title

Tacoma split a doubleheader on Tuesday to stay five games behind Salt Lake with seven games remaining. Meanwhile, the Pulaski Mariners prepare to play in the Appalachian League's championship series in the team's first season as an M's affiliate. Read on for the details of the Appy League series and all the action on the farm on Tuesday.

Tacoma split a doubleheader with Sacramento on Tuesday, leaving the Rainiers five games out of first place with seven games remaining. The first game was the resumption of an April game that was suspended in the first inning. When the game started, current Mariners Bryan LaHair, Wladimir Balentien, Jeff Clement, and Tug Hulett were in the starting lineup. The original lineup also featured the long-since-departed Bronson Sardinha and Greg Norton. Last night, the Rainiers got four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to stake Brandon Morrow to a lead. But the River Cats got to Morrow in the fifth inning with five runs on four hits and two walks, including a three-run homer by Justin Knoedler. Morrow was lifted after 4 2/3 innings, and has a 6.75 ERA in five games with Tacoma. This 79 pitch outing was his longest in AAA. The Mariners would still like to use Morrow as a starter in September despite his struggles in Tacoma.

In game two, the Rainiers got a two-run walk-off homer from Craig Wilson to win 7-6. Prentice Redman homered to lead off the seventh inning, followed by a Luis Valbuena single. After a sac bunt and a Victor Diaz strikeout, Wilson came to the plate needing a base hit to keep the game alive. The long ball was Wilson's 10th with Tacoma and technically gives the Rainiers a six-game winning streak (for statistical purposes, the first game of the doubleheader actually took place on April 6th, even though it was completed yesterday). Justin Thomas earned the win with 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Bill Shoemaker, who gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings.

West Tenn dropped both ends of a doubleheader at home to Montgomery last night. In game one, Gaby Hernandez allowed just an unearned run in 4 1/3 innings, but the bullpen blew up. Jason Kershner and recently-added Aaron Cotter combined to give up nine runs in the last two innings as the Biscuits rolled to a 10-2 win. Mark Kiger had three hits to lead the Jaxx. In game two, the Jaxx were stymied by the Montgomery pitching staff, collecting just three hits in a 3-0 loss. Kiger had two of those three hits, and he's hitting .406 over his last 10 games. He's batting just .227 on the season (he went through a 5-for-50 July) but is getting on base at .356 courtesy of 71 walks. Luis Munoz pitched well enough to win, giving up two runs on three hits in six innings, striking out six. But with the bats silenced, it was a tough-luck loss for Munoz. The Jaxx have six games left on the regular-season schedule. They are in fourth place at the moment, but already earned a postseason spot by winning the first half of the season.

High Desert had Tuesday off. The Mavs have six games remaining and begin their final home series tonight against Rancho Cucamonga. At 54-80, the Mavs have the worst record in the Cal League, but can play the role of spoiler as the Quakes are battling for a playoff spot. Chris Minaker currently stands second in the league with 40 doubles, one behind Lake Elsinore's Eric Sogard.

Wisconsin was shut out for the third time in nine games, this time 4-0 by Cedar Rapids. The Rattlers are 53-77 with six games remaining. Keith Renaud allowed three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings to drop to 1-5 since joining the Rattlers. He walked none and struck out five. Rattler hitters struck out 12 times in the game. Alex Liddi and Alex Meneses had two hits each. Michael Pineda throws tonight for perhaps the last time this season. Pineda leads the Rattlers with a 7-5 record, 2.05 ERA, and 1.13 WHIP.

Everett won a rain-shortened game last night, 4-2 over Vancouver. The game was called with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. Jharmidy De Jesus had the big blow with a three-run homer in the fourth inning that gave the AquaSox the lead. The Frogs have eight games left in the season and are nine games behind Salem-Keizer in the division race, meaning they have been eliminated officially from postseason play.

Pulaski's game in Bristol was canceled last night due to rain. It was the final game of the regular season and, thus, will not be made up. The M's are East Division champs in the Appalachian League and will play against Elizabethton in the league championship series. The best-of-three series was slated to start tonight in Pulaski but has been postponed due to rain. The series will get underway tomorrow night, then shift to Elizabethton for the final two games. The Twins are making their fourth straight appearance in the championship series, and are defending league champs. The Pulaski franchise last made the series in 1999, and was not even in the league in 2007. This is the first year Pulaski has been affiliated with the Mariners, and there's no guarantee the M's will be back next season (it was a one-year deal). Nick Czyz will start game one for Pulaski. Czys was 6-5 with a 4.08 ERA this season in 57 1/3 innings. Brooks Mohr and Jose Rios are slated to start the final two games of the series. The M's had two players selected to the league's All-Star team: catcher Juan Fuentes and third baseman Mario Martinez. Fuentes was third in the league with a .337 batting average, and Martinez hit .319. Manager Rob Mummau was named the league's Manager of the Year for his efforts in leading the team to a division title.

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