First of all, congratulations to Eloy Jimenez and Zach Hedges, who were your choices for the BCB Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year! There were a lot of terrific seasons in the minors, so good luck to Jimenez and Hedges and the rest of the players in the system in 2017 and beyond.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are going to their third-straight Mills Cup final as they edged the Salem Red Sox, 2-1 tonight to take the best-of-three series two games to one.
This game was a pitchers’ duel between Pelicans starter Duane Underwood Jr. and Salem starter Matt Kent, who both allowed just one run. The Red Sox scored their run in the fourth inning when four of the first five hitters in the inning singled off Underwood. But Underwood got out of the mess with minimal damage when he ended the inning with a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded.
The final line on Underwood was one run on five hits over five innings. He struck out two and walked no one.
The Pelicans tied the game in the seventh inning when pinch-hitter Daniel Spingola connected for a two-out, RBI single that scored Jeffrey Baez. They took the lead an inning later when the Pelicans loaded the bases with one out when Donnie Dewees singled, David Bote walked and Yasiel Balaguert reached on an infield single. After Ian Rice popped out, Dewees would score what turned out to be the winning run on a wild pitch with two outs.
The Red Sox threatened to tie the game back up in the bottom of the inning when Pelicans-killer (and the Red Sox third-best prospect) Rafael Devers led off the inning with a double. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third, Tommy Nance walked the next batter to put runners on first and third with one out.
It was then that Pelicans manager Buddy Bailey then summoned his closer, Ryan McNeil, to get a five-out save. McNeil got out of the inning on a line out to right field and a ground out. With the series on the line in the ninth, McNeil retired the side in order for the save. The final two batters went down swinging at strike three.
Nance got the win. The only hit he allowed in his inning of work was that double to Devers. He walked one and did not have a strikeout.
David Bote was 2 for 2 with a walk and a hit by pitch in tonight’s game.
One down note was that Balaguert exited the game after beating out his infield single in the eighth. His availability for the Championship Series is unknown at this time.
The Pelicans will take on the Lynchburg Hillcats tomorrow in game one of a best-of-five series in Myrtle Beach. They will be looking to win their second Mills Cup in their two seasons in the Cubs organization.
South Bend Cubs
The South Bend Cubs and West Michigan Whitecaps game is tied 3-3 in the top of the eighth inning when the game was finally suspended after the rain, which had been falling steadily throughout much of the night, finally made it too difficult to continue. They will finish the game tomorrow starting at 3:05 Central with the winner advancing to the next round of the Midwest League playoffs. The Whitecaps have a runner on first base with no outs.
The Eugene Emeralds stopped the Hillsboro Hops (Diamondbacks), 2-1 to win the best-of-three series two games to one. It is the first time that Eugene has advanced to the Northwest League finals since 2000.
This game was a story of the Ems pitching bending but not breaking throughout the whole game. The Hops had ten hits tonight but when 0 for 15 with runners in scoring position. They got their only run on a wild pitch in the second inning. The Hops left 11 runners on base.
Erling Moreno started and got the win after allowing one run on six hits over five innings. Moreno walked three and struck out seven.
Wyatt Short entered the game with a runner on third and two outs in the eighth. He got a groundball to third to end that threat. Short came out to pitch the ninth and gave up a leadoff hit, which center fielder D.J. Wilson turned into a double by trying and failing to make a spectacular diving catch on a dying line drive. But Short got a strikeout, a ground out to third and a foul out to claim the save and send the Ems to the Championship Series.
Both Ems runs in this game scored in almost exactly the same way. Yeiler Peguero walked in the first and third innings. In the first inning, a Chris Pieters single sent Peguero to third and he scored on a Wladimir Galindo sac fly. In the third inning, a Pieters single sent Peguero to second base and a wild pitch would move him over to third. From there, he scored on a Galindo RBI ground out.
Left fielder Kevonte Mitchell had a pair of doubles in a 2 for 4 game.
The Ems will take on the Everett AquaSox in a best-of-three finals starting on Sunday in Everett. Game two will be on Monday in Eugene and Tuesday, if necessary.