The Lowell Spinners came into Thursday night’s doubleheader needing to win one game or have the Connecticut Tigers lose a contest to clinch the Stedler Division championship. Game 1 did not have a happy ending on either count. First, the Spinners blew a 3-1 lead by giving up five runs in the sixth as the Tri-City Valley Cats batted around in the frame on the way to a 6-3 Game 1 victory. Meanwhile, in Vermont, it took extra innings, but the Tigers prevailed over the Lake Monsters to stay alive in the division chase.
The five-run sixth came at the expense of Lowell relief pitcher Ryan Fernandez who in two-thirds of an inning gave up four hits and five earned runs. Lowell (39-32 ) was unable to muster a comeback in the later stages of the game. So it was on to Game 2 to see if the Spinners could clinch at home for the second time in team history.
Lowell came out in the second game like a team that wanted to finish this scoring five times against Valley Cats starting pitcher Manny Ramirez, who could not escape the inning, The Spinners batted around with the key hit being a two-run single to left by Nick Northcut.
Lowell trotted out Chris Murphy to start Game 2. He was making his tenth start of the season. In his previous nine starts, Murphy had allowed only two earned runs in twenty-nine inning of work.
Things were looking up for the team and their fans. Murphy’s four innings on Thursday night was just what the Spinners had in mind. He would make only one mistake, a fastball that was crushed into the trees in left-center by Valley Cats DH Korey Lee, his third of the season and RBI 26 and 27. It made the score at the time 6-2 Lowell after four.
The Spinners added single runs in both the second and fourth frames. An RBI single by Nick Decker plated the fifth run of off Tri-City (29-42) relief pitcher Shea Barry. Then, in the fourth, Cameron Cannon blasted his third HR of the year over the scoreboard in left off of Yeremi Ceballos to give Lowell a five-run advantage of 7-2 after four.
Since both games in the doubleheader are seven-inning affairs, the Valley Cats needed an explosion like the one that took place in Game 1. The Spinners got a solid inning of relief work from Tom Windle, whom the Red Sox pluck from Lehigh Valley earlier this month. Manager Luke Montz went back to his pen and called on Yasel Santana who threw two scoreless innings to get the job done. Lowell won game two 7-2 and with that are heading to the playoffs for the fourth time in franchise history.
After the game, Montz said, “it’s exciting we have seven guys under 21 years of age getting their first taste of pro ball.” After losing Game 1, he said the team “was ready to play game two.” He praised the way the ballclub brought in from day one.
The Spinners still have games left to play before the playoffs get started. Their final home game of the regular season is Friday night vs the Valley Cats. They head to Connecticut to finish the regular season over the weekend against the Tigers.
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