When this series with the Vermont Lake Monsters began, the Lowell Spinners were in great shape to capture a playoff spot. Three days and four games later, they are hanging on by a thread. The theme of this set of games, if you are a Spinners fan, is all the missed opportunities that took place.
Vermont did things a little better than Lowell did like pitch better, a few more clutch hits, and better defense. It added up to a Lake Monster sweep of the Spinners, four to three in ten innings.
After the game, Spinners manager Corny Wimberly praised his team for the way they battled. But their shortcomings, especially in the clutch with the bats, was a constant theme all series long.
Brian Brown got the start for the Spinners (33-33), on Saturday night. He went the first two frames and threw the ball very well allowing nothing over those innings.
For the Lake Monsters, Adam Reuss, got the start and was just as good. He threw six innings of five hit, one run ball throwing more strikes (46) than balls (32).
Vermont (33-34 ), struck first, which was also a theme of this series. With Taylor Ahearn on to replace Brown, he gave up a single to center by Max Schuemann. He got to second on a fielder’s choice ground ball off the bat of Devin Foyle that Spinners second baseman Grant Williams could not throw him out on.
After a fly ball to center produced the inning first out, Ahearn then walked Noah Vaughn to load the bases full of Lake Monsters. Jonah Bride, who had a good series against the Spinners, drove home the game’s first run with a base hit to left field. It scored Schuemann and gave the Lake Monsters a one to nothing lead.
As was the case on Friday night, the Spinners had a great chance to take he lead in the third. A walk to Korby Batesole was followed by a single to center by Jonathan Ortega, one of three hits on the night for him. With runners at the corner and no one out, the Spinners squandered the opportunity. First, Grant Williams popped out to third base, then Cole Brannen hit a fly ball to center field that would have been deep enough go score Batesole. Lake Monster left fielder, Joseph Pena, had other ideas. He threw a strike to first baseman Aaron Arruda to double off Ortega who was caught napping at second base. Instead of at least one run, the Spinners came up empty.
Lowell did tie the game off Reuss in the fourth after one out. Left fielder Devlin Granberg doubled to the gap in right-center, (three for five for him). DH Tyler Esplin brought him home with a single to right field. Game tied at one.
In the seventh, Vermont took the lead back with a leadoff walk to catcher Jose Rivas. He moved up a base on a groundout. Ahearn was replaced by Danny Bethea who wild pitched Rivas to third. Two outs later, Pena doubled home Rivas and the Lake Monsters have a two to one lead.
The Spinners tied the game in the seventh against Bryce Nightengale. With two down, Batesole dropped a bunt down the third base line. Ortega was the next man up and a ten-pitch at-bat that Ortega finally won by ripping a triple to left field scoring Batesole and tying the game at two.
The Spinners took the lead in the eighth when Milligan beat out a grounder to deep second. He came all the way around to score on a Granberg double to right. 3-2 Spinners.
Three outs away from a much-needed win, Andrew Politi came on for his second inning of work. He would hit the first man in the ninth, Rivas. He moved to second on a wild pitch and went to third on a base hit to left-center by Schuemann. After Devin Foyle struck out, Pena collected his second RBI of the night with a sac-fly to center. The game was tied at three going on to extra innings.
In minor league ball, you start extra-innings with a man on second base and no one out. You use the batter that made the last out of the inning before. Noah Vaughn was that guy. The Spinners brought on Kevin Biondic to pitch the tenth. He then gave up a single to Bride that was followed up by a sac-fly to left that scored Vaughn by Jeremy Eierman and gave Vermont a four to three lead.
The Spinners had one last chance under the same rules. Williams began the tenth at second base. He was sacrificed to third by Cole Brannen. He never came home as Lake Monster relief pitcher Jaimito Lebron got Milligan to strike out and Granberg to fly out to right to end the ballgame. Vermont swept series winning four to three. Lebron get the win and is now one and zero. Biondic took the loss and is now one and two.
With nine games left the Spinners have no more margin of error. They still trail Tri-City by four games in the loss column as the Valley Cats also lost on Saturday night to Hudson Valley. In the wild-card race, the Spinners are two games back of Brooklyn in the loss column, and two and a half back overall.
The Spinners will look to get a winning streak going when they travel to Connecticut to take on the Tigers. First pitch is at four pm.
With Saturday’s announced attendance, of 3,914, Lowell has gone over 100,000 in attendance for the home season.
There was a roster move made as well. Infielder Andre Colon was sent back to the Gulf Coast Red Sox.
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