Captains Sweep, Clippers and RubberDucks Even in Thursday Playoff Action

Bulls Battle Back To Even Series With Clippers; Bulls 4, Clippers 3 

For the first time all season, the Columbus Clippers took a lead to the ninth and didn’t come away with a victory.

Trailing 3-2, the Durham Bulls got to Columbus reliever J.C. Ramirez and sent the game to extras. Cole Figueroa opened a wild 10th inning with a triple and later came crossed the plate on Tim Beckham’s sac fly to give Durham a 4-3 win and even the Governors’ Cup semi-finals at one game apiece.

Columbus got on the board first when Audy Ciriaco launched a solo home run to left in the bottom of the second.

The Clippers threatened to add to their lead in the third, but a Carlos Moncrief-like throw from Durham left fielder Mikie Mahtook shut the door on that notion.

Francisco Lindor reached with a single to left. David Murphy followed with a deep drive to center that fell short on the warning track. With Giovanny Urshela batting, Lindor took second on a wild pitch by Durham starter Enny Romero. After falling behind 1-2 to Romero, Urshela drove a pitch the other way, but the ball landed foul by inches.

Two pitches later, Urshela laced a single to left fielder Mikie Mahtook, who fielded the ball and fired a bullet to catcher Luke Maile, who didn’t have to budge to apply the tag for the final out of the inning.

Beckham, the first overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, tagged Columbus starter Tyler Cloyd for a double in the top of the fourth. With one out, Vince Belnome singled to plate Beckham and even the score at 1-1.

With the score tied at one in the fifth, Dusty Brown drew a two-out walk off Romero to open the door for the Clippers’ go-ahead rally.

After Brown’s walk, Lindor singled and Murphy walked to load the bases for Urshela. The 23-year-old from Cartagena, Colombia poked a single through the left side to Mahtook, who crow-hopped and launched in hopes of gunning down Lindor at the plate a second time. But this time Mahtook’s throw hit the backstop, allowing Brown and Lindor to score and push the Clippers ahead 3-1.

Merrill Kelly relieved Romero in the top of the sixth. Romero, a top prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, allowed three runs on six hits. He struck out six and walked two.

In the seventh, Durham used an RBI single from Maile to cut the Columbus lead to 3-2. Nick Franklin doubled to right with one out before Maile brought him home two batters later.

J.C. Ramirez entered in the eighth to relieve Cloyd, who turned in a strong pitching performance. In seven innings of work, Cloyd struck out seven Bulls’ batters, allowed six hits and walked one.

After working a 1-2-3 eighth, Ramirez returned to the hill in the ninth for the save attempt. However, a one-out walk and back-to-back singles from Franklin and Mike Fontenot found pinch-runner Ray Olmedo rounding third as Carlos Moncrief fielded Fontenot’s single.

The International League outfield assist leader Moncrief’s throw one-hopped to the plate, but Brown couldn’t hold on and Olmedo tied the game at 3-3.

“He [J.C. Ramirez] has thrown the ball really well in the last three weeks and done a nice job,” Columbus manager Chris Tremie said. He threw the ball good tonight, too. In the eighth inning, really effective, and in the ninth, he walked a guy in a battle at bat. Not taking anything away from their hitters but he got a couple roll over ground balls that got through the infield and they ended up scoring a run. Sometimes that happens in baseball. He threw the ball really well. He shouldn’t be down on himself at all. If he has the same kind of outing again, he’ll probably have better results.”

Tyler Sturdevant took the ball from Ramirez in the 10th. Figueroa welcomed Sturdevant to the game with a triple off the top of the wall in center. Mahtook followed with a hot shot up the middle. Justin Sellers laid out to make a web-gem worthy stop, hopped to his feet, and fired to first. But the throw was high and wide, ricocheting off the top of the dugout and into first baseman Ciriaco’s glove. Ciriaco turned and eyed down Figueroa, who trotted back to third base.

Two batters later, Figueroa scored on Beckham’s sac fly to push Durham ahead 4-3.

Sturdevant took the loss for the Clippers. Josh Lueke pitched two scoreless innings to pick up the win for the Bulls.

Before tonight, the Clippers were 65-0 when leading after eight innings.

“Obviously, we’d like to go up 2-0 but it’s three out of five,” Tremie said. “You have to win three games. It doesn’t matter if you win the first game, second game. You have to win three. It’d be nice going into Durham 2-0 but it didn’t work out tonight. Guys played hard and we had some bad luck. They [Durham] battled so I give them credit. I think we’ll be fine. We’ll go in there and play tomorrow. We know what kind of club we got and we just have to play an extra game.”

Game three of this Governors’ Cup best-of-five semi-final series with Durham is tonight at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC. Right-hander Shawn Marcum (1-0, 2.35) will take the mound for the Clippers against Bulls’ righty Matt Andriese (11-8, 3.77). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET.

Akron Snaps Skid and Evens Series with Richmond; RubberDucks 3, Flying Squirrels 1

By Danny Madden

After losing game one to the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the RubberDucks were hoping to even up the series before heading to Richmond. Entering Thursday’s game, the RubberDucks had lost 12 out of their last 13 games and were in a 5 game skid.

The RubberDucks finished the season with a record of 73-69 in the Eastern League Western Division. After a strong start to the season, the RubberDucks had an up and down season after some devastating injuries to some key players, promotions to Tyler Holt, Francisco Lindor, and Giovanny Urshela, and inconsistent offense and starting pitching. Going into the playoffs in midst of a long losing skid did not bid well for the chances of the RubberDucks, but that wasn’t on their minds tonight as they were able to unleash their frustrations on the Flying Squirrels.

Will Roberts was on the mound for the RubberDucks. Prior to the playoffs, Roberts posted a record of 12-12 with an ERA of 4.08. In 161 innings pitched, he started in 27 games, struck out 98 and only walked 36. His season has been as consistent as any pitcher could have in an inning. Roberts averaged just under 6 innings per outing. He’s been a workhorse for the rotation, but his problem this season has been the amount of base runners he allows during the game. This was not the issue tonight for the right hander as he pitched a solid 7 innings and only allowed 5 hits. Jack Snodgross was on for the Flying Squirrels tonight. During the regular season, Snodgross had a record of 11-6 with an ERA of 3.56.

The RubberDucks were able to get on the board first in the third inning. After Erik Gonzalez, Anthony Gallas, and Bryan LaHair all reached via back-to-back singles and a walk, Alex Lavisky hit into a double play to end the inning. Gonzalez was able to score and Gallas reached third. Following Lavisky’s double play, Wendle laced a single to center field to drive in Gallas. The RubberDucks were leading 2-0 at the end of the third.

In the top of the fourth, the Flying Squirrels got their first run on the board after a leadoff double by Kelby Tomlinson and then back-to-back groundouts by Blake Miller and Mario Lisson to score Tomlinson. Jaime Pedroza had the chance to throw out Tomlinson at home, but went for the sure out at home instead. This ended up being the only run that Richmond would go on to score in the game. As a team, they collectively hit .211 and went 0-6 with RISP.

The run scored by the Flying Squirrels wouldn’t put a damper on the RubberDucks offense as they were able to get a response run in the bottom of the fourth. Ollie Linton led off the inning with a triple to deep right field. The 5’8” center fielder bolted around the diamond and slid into third easily before the ball even made it into the infield. While Pedroza was batting, a wild pitch by Snodgrass scored Linton from third, bringing the score to 3-1 RubberDucks.

Roberts continued to shut down the Flying Squirrel as he struck out five consecutive batters between the fourth and sixth innings. Coming into tonight’s game, Robert’s career high amount of strikeouts was 8. After 7 solid innings, Roberts struck out 11 batters for a new career high, and in one of the most important games of the season.

“I just basically pitched off of my fastball. I was able to command that early in the game and that sort of setup off speed stuff to start some counts later in the game and then I could finish hard,” Roberts said on his performance.

With a solid 3-1 lead in the sixth, the RubberDucks needed to get some insurance runs. They were able to get some runs off the bat of Jordan Smith who blasted a liner to deep right field for his third home run of the season, his first in the playoffs scoring Wendle who had an infield single earlier in the inning. This home run was crucial for a team who has been searching for offense in the last two weeks. After a solid pitching performance from Roberts, they needed to support their starter by getting him some runs to hold on to the lead.

Trey Haley came on to relieve Roberts in the eighth. Haley, who has struggled during his time at Akron as he’s posted an ERA of 7.02 was solid for the RubberDucks. He got a groundout, a fly out, and a strike out in an easy 1-2-3 inning to hold on to the lead. Josh Martin came on to close the game in only his second appearance as a RubberDucks gave up a hit to lead off the ninth, but was able to get out of the inning by striking out Tomlinson and then getting Miller to hit into a double play. The RubberDucks split the series at home and busted their losing streak.

In tonight’s contest, the RubberDucks were able to achieve something they haven’t been able to very much in the last two weeks, a win. This type of momentum is something the RubberDucks need to build off of.

“It makes this bus ride a lot shorter,” manager Dave Wallace said. “It would have been a tough one had we not got this game, and not having the threat of driving there for one game and driving right back. At least we know we’re there for two, but we’re going to go and try and take care of business as soon as we can.”

If the RubberDucks are going to win these next set of games in Richmond, then the starting pitching will need to continue to pitch well as Duke von Schamann and Roberts have already shown. They need to keep building off this momentum, but the starters need to keep control of the run game and follow suit of von Schamann and Roberts.

“That’s just my job as a starter, to get as deep as I can for the team. Whether it’s going well or going bad, when I leave the game I have us in a position to win.”

The keys to winning in Richmond, and continuing their success on the road, as they have a record of 41-30 in away games, will be to continue to have solid pitching, and actually hit the ball. They were able to show tonight that they want to be in the playoffs and that they have the potential to contend, but they need to show consistency. Solid pitching is an absolute must.

“Everything starts with pitching. Great batting goes with the starting pitcher,” Wallace said. “They’ve stepped up and gave us a chance and kept us in the game. That’s what we need from them going forward. We feel good with Cody tomorrow. We’ll try and do it again.”

Cody Anderson (4-11, 5.44) will be on the hill for the RubberDucks, and he’ll be facing Ty Blach (8-8, 3.13) for the Flying Squirrels. The game starts at 7:05 P.M. at Richmond. This will be Game 3 of potentially 5 games.

Captains Sweep Silver Hawks, Advance to MWL Semi-Finals; Captains 7, Silver Hawks 2

Courtesy Lake County Captains

Lake County batted around and used six hits in the top of the fifth inning to score five runs and spark a 7-2 win over South Bend on Thursday. The Captains swept South Bend and will advance to take on the winner of West Michigan and Fort Wayne in the Mid West League Eastern Division Championship Series.

South Bend scored first in the bottom of the third inning. South Bend used two hits in the inning and took the 1-0 lead. Justin Williams had the RBI single. The Captains took the 2-1 lead on back-to-back homers from Nellie Rodriguez and Mike Papi in the top of the fourth inning. The Captains led 2-1 headed to the fifth.

Trailing 7-1 South Bend added a final run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Williams doubled and came in to score and the score, which was the final, was 7-2.

LHP Anderson Polanco started for the Captains. Polanco pitched five and two thirds innings allowing two earned runs on four hits, three walks and four strikeouts. Polanco earned the win. Justin Brantley, Carlos Melo and Jordan Milbrath held the lead out of the bullpen and the Captains moved on.

RHP Blake Perry got the start for the Silver Hawks and took the loss. Perry didn’t make it out of the fifth inning. Perry went four and one third inning and allowed five hits, four earned runs, two walks and six strikeouts. South Bend used four pitchers in relief.

The Lake County Captains, class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, have advanced to the Midwest League Eastern Division Championship round and will take on the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers) or Fort Wayne Tincaps (Padres) for the right to play in the Midwest League Championship next week.

Tickets for every potential home game are only $9 in advance and all tickets will be $10 on the day of the game. Fans may also pre-purchase parking in the Classic Park Gold Lot for $6 ($8 on game dates).

Tickets for the three remaining regular season home games are on sale at the Classic Park box office, online at and by phone at 440-954-WINS (9467).

Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer

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