We've got good news down on the farm tonight as both teams rode a big inning to playoff wins. Since Daytona's win was more important, we'll start with them.
The Daytona Cubs scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning tobeat the Dunedin Blue Jays, 4-3. The D-Cubs won the best-of-three series, two games to one.
Daytona's gotten excellent starting pitching in this series and tonight was no exception as Matt Loosen went six innings and allowed a run on six hits. Loosen did not walk anyone and he struck out seven. Still, when he exited the game, he was looking at getting the loss.
He was relieved by PJ Francescon, who gave up a two-run home run in the eighth inning before getting pulled for Jordan Latham with two outs in the inning. Latham got a ground out to end the inning and got the win when Daytona came back in the bottom of the inning.
Frank Batista had blown his last four save attempts, but he was back on track tonight as he pitched a scoreless ninth to get the win. Batista gave up a hit to the leadoff hitter, who was bunted over to second base and went to third on a ground out. Batista got a soft line drive to shortstop Elliot Soto to end the game and send Daytona to the Florida State League Championship Series.
Daytona's bats had been silent all night until catcher Michael Brenly led off the bottom of the eighth with a bunt single. The next five D-Cub hitters had four singles and a walk, each single only advancing the runners one base, to cut the deficit to 3-2. After a Greg Rohan sacrifice fly with the bases loaded tied the game, Abner Abreu's single loaded the bases again for Matt Szczur, who singled to give Daytona the eventual winning run. All in all, the Daytona Cubs had six singles and a walk in that four run eighth inning.
Third baseman Matt Cerda was 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. Left fielder Evan Crawford, right fielder Abreu and shortstop Soto were all 2 for 4. Soto had a triple and Crawford scored once.
The Daytona Cubs will take on the St. Lucie Mets at Jackie Robinson Ballpark for game one of a Best-of-Five Championship series tomorrow night at 6:05 Central. Daytona last won the Florida State League Championship in 2008.
The Smokies had a seven-run fourth inning to erase a four-run deficit and cruised to a 9-6 win over the Chattanooga Lookouts (Dodgers) in game one of the best-of-five series.
Brooks Raley got the game off to a rocky start when he gave up five runs in 3.2 innings. He allowed six hits, three of which were home runs. Raley walked one and struck out three.
Hung-Wen Chen relieved Raley and collected the win with 1.1 innings of perfect relief. Chen struck out two.
Third baseman Josh Vitters hit a two-run home run in that seven-run inning. Vitters was 1 for 4 with the two RBI. First baseman Blake Lalli hit another two-run home run later in that inning. Lalli was 2 for 5 with three RBI.
Center fielder Jae-Hoon Ha went 2 for 5. He scored once and knocked one in.
The Smokies and Lookouts will play game two tomorrow night at 6:15 central time.