On Friday night there was good news and bad. The good was that the Lowell Spinners captured the Stedler Division championship on Thursday. The bad is there was still a game to be played on Friday. In a performance that can be described as less than focused, the Spinners played their final regular-season home game vs the Tri-City Valley Cats. Making his Lowell debut on the hill was right-handed pitcher Brock Bell. The seventh-round draft pick from this June’s entry-level MLB draft has been tolling for the Gulf Coast Red Sox since being signed. Ryan Gusto was the Valley Cats starter making his second start and his third appearances of the year.
Bell’s outing was up and down in his inning and two thirds. He got away with giving up two walks and a base hit by striking out Joe Perez with the bases loaded in the first. In the second, not so much. It should be pointed out that Lowell’s defense, which is last in the New York Penn League in Team Fielding at .964 (94 errors), played a large role in the Valley Cats scoring two runs. The Spinners would make three infield errors while Bell allowed only one hit. It was an RBI single to right field by Luis Santana. Bell never made it through the second inning, but not all his doing. Lowell trailed 2-0 after two.
Gusto was getting the job done for Tri-City (30-42). In his four innings of pitching, he threw no-hit baseball. He threw 43 total pitches in which 34 of them were strikes. He was quick and pounded the strike zone with all his pitches. Only one man reached during his outing. That was Wil Dalton on a throwing error by Gusto in the fourth inning. With famed author Stephen King in the house on Friday night, the ‘horror show’ continued. The Valley Cats added a run in the fourth on a sac fly by Santana. It would score Bryan Arias who led off the inning by singling to center field off of Spinners bullpen pitcher Bryan Lucas. 3-0 Tri-City. They increased the lead off of Lucas in the fifth as two more runs came across on four base hits. RBI singles from first baseman Nate Perry and Arias (2-for-4, run scored, RBI) did the damage.
Lowell (39-34) finally got on the board in their half of the fifth, and yes fielding mistakes helped. Two Tri-City mistakes along with an RBI base hit to center by Spinners first baseman Joe Davis would plate two runs off of Valley Cats relief pitcher Christian Mejias. The Tri-City lead was now 5-2 heading to the middle innings.
Both teams had chances as this game moved along. Nine total errors by both teams created those chances. It is something that Spinners manager Luke Montz is concerned about. The Spinners have 94 errors made by the team this season, saying “we need to take care of the baseball and get off the field when we have the chance to.” Lowell did make things a little tense in the ninth facing the Valley Cats third pitcher of the night, Peyton Plumlee. An RBI double off the wall in left by Dalton (2-for-4, RBI, run scored) plated Alex Erro who started the inning with a single to left. Alex had a two-hit night with a run scored. Cameron Cannon came to the plate as the tying run, however, Plumlee would get him to foul out to Valley Cats catcher Korey Lee to end the ballgame. Final score Tri-City 5 Lowell 3.
Dalton talked about the fun time after Thursday night clinching. Calling it “a great time and all-time favorite.” He talked about how this team has “worked their butt off all season long.” As for the final weekend of play in Connecticut, both Dalton and Montz said: “we need to finish strong.” Montz also mentioned that some of his regular players may get one more day off. The win goes to Mejias for Tri-City and he is now 2-2. Plumlee picked up his second save of the year. The loss goes to Bell who the manager thought “threw the ball well.” He is now 0-1.
The Spinners head to Connecticut to finish the regular season vs the Tigers. Then, it’s on to the Penn League playoffs next week.
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