After a thrilling walk-off win on Thursday night, the Lowell Spinners returned to the park on Friday looking to do something they have never done in their history in the New York Penn League. That would be to win a playoff series. Ryan Zeferjahn was given the baseball in hopes of putting Lowell into the championship series. Batavia countered with Jackson Rose whose regular-season numbers did not put fear into many lineups he faced during the regular season.
Both starters gave up first-inning runs. For the Muckdogs their run crossed after a leadoff single to center by J.D. Orr. He then stole second and score on an RBI base hit by Troy Johnston to center. The Spinners came right back in the bottom of the first. DH, Jaxx Groshans, delivered a single to center field. He went first to third on another base hit to center by Stephen Scott. Groshans came home on an RBI single by one of Thursday nights heroes, Joe Davis, who dropped a single into right-center field. It could have been worse for Batavia. Nick Decker kept the inning alive for Lowell by gaming a walk to load the bases. Roldani Baldwin then stepped to the plate and drove one to the gap in right-center field. Batavia’s center fielder, Milton Smith II, raced over to the gap and made an outstanding diving backhanded catch to save possibly three runs. After one inning the game was tied at one all.
Rose got into more trouble in the second, but with the help of his bullpen was able to escape with the game still tied. Rose went an inning and two-thirds gave up three hits and one earned run. The Spinners kept putting pressure on the Muckdogs pen. Andrew Miller came on to get the last out of the second. Miller ran into trouble in the third and it was not all his own doing. An infield error and two base hits put the Spinners in business. With two down and Alex Erro coming to bat, Batavia manager Tom Lawless went back to his bullpen. It paid off as Geremy Galindez got Erro to swing at the first pitch and pop out to shortstop.
Zeferjahn got it together and went three allowing three hits, the run, fanned four, and walked one. Aldo Ramirez took over in the fourth and put up zeros in both the fourth and fifth. Despite stranding eight runners thru three innings, Lowell broke through in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead. Davis was in the middle of it as he began the inning by reaching on a strikeout wild pitch. He advanced to third on a Nick Decker (2-for-2, 2 BB) single to right and then scored the go-ahead run on a Baldwin single to right to make it 2-1 Spinners. The base hit came off of Josh Simpson, the fourth pitcher of the night for Batavia. It could have been worse for the Muckdogs when Baldwin lifted a fly ball to center. Smith made the catch then hit the cut off man Harrison DiNicola who threw out Decker at the plate.
The lead was short-lived the next half inning as the Muckdoge took the lead back. Johnson singled to center off of Ramirez. Nick Ready then plated him with a double to center field to tie the game at 2-2. Ready moved up on a wild pitch then scored the second run of the frame on a base hit to left by Andres Sthormes. It was 3-2 Batavia.
The Spinners came right back and tied the game in the bottom of the sixth when Erro doubled off the wall in right. He moved up to third when Gilberto Jimenez hit a soft line out to Batavia second baseman Nasim Nunez. He made the catch then tried to get Erro going back to the bag and threw the ball away allowing Erro to get to third. He crossed home plate to tie the game on a Scott (2-for-4, RBI) RBI double down the right-field line. The game was now 3-3 going to the seventh.
It would stay tied into the ninth and neither team could push across the game-ending run. So, it was on to extra innings with both teams going to their closer to settle this and move on. Batavia could not push across a run vs Spinners closer Kris Jackson. Lowell came to bat in the bottom of the tenth taking on Evan Brabrand, the Muckdogs closer who had 13 saves during the regular season. Erro got the inning started with a double to left-center (2-for-4, 2 RS). He was advanced to third on a sac bunt by Jimenez. Batavia decided to walk the next two hitters to set up a bases-loaded, one-out chance for Davis. He said he “was trying to hit a ball into the outfield” but instead, he hit a slow chopper to Muckdogs SS Dalvy Rosario who made the grab. He whirled to try and get Erro at the plate. The throw was wide up the first baseline allowing Erro to score the game-winning and series-clinching run. The Spinners won 4-3 and for the first time in franchise history will play for the New York Penn League Championship on Sunday afternoon at 1 pm vs the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Afterward, both Davis and manager Luke Montz said that “we know how to grind out games.” The last two nights would be proof of that. Montz could not say enough good things about his pitching staff, saying “our pitching was outstanding in the series.” G.M. Shawn Smith said, “this is 24 years in the making for everybody that has been a part of this since the beginning”.
We look forward to Sunday afternoon and NGSC Sports will be in the house.
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