Wizards pitch shutout; Storm lose tight game

Wade LeBlanc and four relievers led Fort Wayne to a deciding game three with a 4-0 shutout. David Freese led the offensive assault and was aided by Mike Sansoe and Will Venable. Manny Ayala pitched well but took the loss while Nick Hundley brought the Storm within a run but that would be as close as they got in a 3-2 loss, despite a single and double in the ninth.

Lake Elsinore lost 3-2 to High Desert (Royals) – series tied 1-1 in best of three

Manny Ayala was charged with two runs, one earned, on six hits and a walk while striking out six over 6.1 innings. A Skip Adams error in the seventh eventually led to the unearned run and a loss on his playoff docket. The right-hander has allowed two earned runs over his last 12.2 innings, the eighth time in 13 starts that he has allowed two runs or less. Ayala has walked just nine batters in 76 innings as a starter with Lake Elsinore.

Matt Varner relieved Ayala with one on and one out in the seventh and proceeded to give up three hits and two walks in a third of an inning – but just one run scored. Peter Ciofrone provided the only out while Varner was on the bump, throwing out a runner at home plate to save a run. While he had allowed just eight earned runs over a 33 inning span to end the season, 21 runs crossed the dish and the opposition hit .328 off him.

Richie Daigle ended a threat in the seventh when he came in with the bases juiced and two outs, closing the frame with a ground out. He went on to pitch a scoreless eighth. The right-hander has given up one run over his last 12 appearances, spanning 17.2 innings. He has given up ten hits and walked seven over that time, striking out 11. The leadoff hitter in an inning has batted .212 off him this season, including the playoffs.

Nick Hundley hit a solo shot in the seventh inning to close the gap to one run and went 2-for-4 on the day, picking off a runner at first base with a snap throw. He was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double in the ninth inning. The next batter, Tim Brown, would double. He went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the series opener. For Hundley, it was his second homer in three games and his third multi-hit game in four contests.

Fort Wayne won 4-0 over West Michigan (Tigers) – series tied 1-1 in best of three

Wade LeBlanc on the mound versus West Michigan in playoff action

Wade LeBlanc allowed just three hits over 5.2 innings of scoreless ball to pick up the win. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven, retiring the first 11 batters he faced. Leblanc has allowed just two runs over his last 20.2 innings, a 0.87 ERA. Over that span he has yielded 16 hits, walking six and striking out 17. LeBlanc has gone four innings or more and allowed one run or less in five of his eight starts with the Wizards, including the playoffs. He has allowed five hits in 27 at bats with runners in scoring position with Fort Wayne.

David Freese drove in the first two runs for Fort Wayne with a double. He would add another double in four at bats, walk once and score a run, accounting for three of the four runs. Freese went 1-for-3 with a walk in the opening game of the series. The third baseman has collected 46 RBI's in 55 games for the Wizards, including the playoffs. It is the 15th time he has driven in two or more since joining the Wizards.

Will Venable went 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored. He is 5-for-9 with two runs scored through two playoff games, extending his hitting streak to nine games. He is 16-for-36, a .444 average, with nine RBI's and six runs scored over the streak. The outfielder tied for the Midwest League lead in runs scored with 86 while also placing second in RBI's with 91. He also ended the year second in batting average at .314 in a league that had just seven batters hit over .300, among those who qualified.

After going 0-for-3 in the playoff opener, Mike Sansoe collected three hits in five at bats on Thursday and scored a run. The outfielder hit .371 over his final 28 games of the season, scoring 24 runs during that span with 19 runs scored. It is the ninth time on the year he has collected three hits in a game.

John Madden surrounded a single by striking out the side in the ninth inning to close out the game in a non-save situation. The right-hander has allowed runs in two of his last 23 appearances. It is the fourth time this year he has struck out the side. Madden saved 20 games for Fort Wayne this season with 14 of those saves coming over the final two months. He held the opposition to a .202 average on the year.

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