One man over the first six innings reached scoring position against Josh Geer, as he worked to two over the minimum while scattering four hits.
"What I usually do – fastball inside and going with my changeup – keeping them off-balance," He said of his early success in the contest. "I didn't throw many curveballs but just kept working in and out and keeping them off-balance."
In the span of five batters in the seventh, however, Geer was tagged by three solo homers, including back-to-back jacks with two outs. Ironically, he fanned the side in the frame. Geer allowed three bombs in a April 26 start but had allowed three homers in his last 20 starts.
"I hung a changeup and (German) Duran took advantage," Geer said of the first homer he allowed. "I got two quick strikeouts and I threw what I thought was a good changeup that was almost in the dirt to (Brandon) Boggs, and he got out in front and pulled it over the right field fence, and the first pitch to (John) Mayberry – an inside fastball – he just turned on."
The Missions managed two hits over the first eight frames and both were solo homers. Chase Headley led off the fourth with a line drive homer to left field, and Brett Dowdy followed with a solo bomb of his own to open the fifth.
It was the two hits in the ninth that mattered most. Nick Hundley singled to leadoff the frame and scored the tying run on a bases loaded walk from Drew Macias. Luis Cruz delivered a two-out, two-run double to give the Missions a 5-3 lead. The shortstop had gone 0-for-6 with the bases loaded in San Antonio this year and had just three RBIs with runners in scoring position and two outs.
"It was my biggest walk of the year. The pitcher had trouble finding the zone on Pete. I went up there thinking that I would take until he threw me a strike. Of course, the first pitch was a strike. After a ball, 1-1, I had a check-swing which was really close, 1-2. ‘It is time to bear down and put this ball in play.' Ball, Ball, 3-2 – a straight fastball that came in just down in the zone. I clapped my hands all the way to first.
"Cruz came up and delivered the big hit."
"Two outs. Two strikes – a 1-2 count," Cruz began. "He threw a changeup and I hit right over third base.
"It was a really good game."
"It was until the seventh when I gave up the lead," Geer said of it being an exciting game. "We turned it on and it made it much, much better."
Geer went 0-1 with a 1.59 ERA in one start for the Lake Elsinore Storm in last year's playoffs. In 5.2 innings he allowed one run while giving up five hits and walking four. Headley had a homer and reached base 13 times in 30 plate appearances for Lake Elsinore. Nick Hundley tied with a team-high four runs scored for the Storm last season.
"(Geer) pitched a great game," said Macias. "He kept us in the game and that is all we can ask him to do."
"He pitched really well," Cruz said of Geer. "They hit a couple of pitches in the seventh inning but he pitched well."
"Playoff time," Macias said. "It is time for the adrenaline to kick in.
Lake Elsinore lost 4-3 to Inland Empire in 14 innings (down 0-1 – best of three)
The Storm got on the board first when David Freese hit a one-out homer to right-center in the fourth. Craig Cooper followed with a triple and was plated on a Seth Johnston single. Cooper has five triples on the year.
Stephen Faris pitched to the minimum over three innings before a leadoff triple in the fourth led to a run. A leadoff homer in the fifth tied the contest at 2-2 and two hits, a single and double in the seventh, gave the opposition a one-run advantage. He allowed five hits and struck out five in 6.2 innings.
Johnston added a crucial double in the top of the ninth to put two in scoring position and Juan Ciriaco's sacrifice fly drove in pinch runner Josh Howard. Ciriaco went 3-for-5 with a double, triple, and an RBI. Josh Alley reached base five times, going 4-for-6 with a walk but he did not score a run.
The bullpen worked 6.2 scoreless innings before Inland Empire broke through. Greg Burke (0-1) surrendered two doubles with one out in the 14th to take the loss. While R.J. Rodriguez, Ernesto Frieri and Wilton Lopez surrendered one hit over 5.1 frames, Burke surrendered three, hit a batter, and walked one in an inning and a third.
Freese went 3-for-10 and reached base six times in the playoffs for the Fort Wayne Wizards last season. He notched two doubles and tied for the team lead with two RBIs. Johnston went 2-for-12 with the Wizards, doubling and tripling while scoring twice. Burke went 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA last season for the Wizards. In six innings he allowed one run on five hits.
Eugene lost 10-8 to Salem-Keizer (Giants) in season finale
Andrew Parrino notched his fourth straight multi-hit game and the fifth time in six games, going 2-for-5 with two RBIs. He collected seven RBIs in his last eight games, scoring seven times in his last five contests. The infielder ended the year second on the team with 38 RBIs and tied for the team lead with 24 extra base hits. He also placed fifth in the Northwest League with 20 doubles.
Jeremy McBryde (1-6) allowed five runs on six hits and a season-high three walks in three innings, striking out three. Thee of his hits went for extra bases and 26 of 67 overall have gone for extras this season. He had allowed four runs just once over his first 13 outings but has given up five or more in three of the past four. The right-hander has allowed 20 runs on 29 hits over his last 16 innings of work, seeing his ERA balloon from 3.12 to 5.31. McBryde has lost his last three games and last four decisions.
Colt Hynes finished off the season with a six-inning scoreless streak, including one on Wednesday, that saw him allow a single baserunner over that span. He worked to the minimum in five of his outings, including three of the last four. The left-hander allowed seven earned runs in 41 innings of work, walking just six batters and posting a .90 WHIP. He allowed runs in six of his 30 appearances on the season. He surrendered just seven hits in 54 at bats with runners in scoring position.
Luis Durango led the Northwest League in batting average, the first Emerald to win since Adam Johnson in 1995. He collected three hits on the final day, falling three hits shy of the Northwest League record of 113 in a season.