For the first time in the twenty-four year history of the franchise, the Lowell Spinners are playing for the New York Penn League Championship vs the Brooklyn Cyclones. The two teams met nine times over the course of the regular season with the Spinners winning five of the nine matchups. For the Cyclones, making the finals is something they are used to. It is the fifth time overall and the first time since 2010. Brooklyn is 1-6 all-time in the finals. With this being a best of three for a championship, Game 1 was very important for Lowell since Brooklyn has the best home record in the league this year at 26-14. In the month of August, they were 15-2 at home.
The Spinners sent Brock Bell to the mound to start the finals. The seventh-round pick in this past June’s draft has spent most of this summer pitching in the Gulf Coast League. He was 0-1 in his brief time in Lowell. Brooklyn countered with Garrison Bryant who during the season was 5-1 in 12 starts. Bell, who is on an innings and pitch limit, took care of the first two frames giving up two hits and no runs. He was piggybacked by another newcomer to the Spinners roster, Jorge Rodriguez, who also threw two scoreless frames. Bryant was also dealing, not allowing a base runner until the fourth when he walked Spinners catcher Jaxx Groshans. One out later, he gave up his first hit to DH Joe Davis. The first and second threat came to an end when Bryant got Lowell second baseman, Cameron Cannon, to weakly ground out to shortstop.
As the latter innings arrived, the game remained scoreless. The Spinners had another first and second shot in the sixth, but Bryant escaped by getting Davis to fly out to left. Bryant went six giving up only one base hit and three walks. Rodriguez gave the Spinners five strong innings out of the pen allowing only one hit and two base runners all told. Both teams were getting excellent pitching. Lowell brought on Tom Windle in the eighth and he got into trouble right away by giving up hits to the first two men he faced. A single to left by Brett Baty was followed by a high bouncer over the head of Spinners third baseman Nick Northcut by Cyclones RF Ranfy Adon. With runners on second and third and no one out, the Cyclones uses two sac flies to score the games first runs. First, it was pinch hitter Jose Reyes who drove one to right to plate Baty. Then, leadoff man Antoine Duplantis did the same thing to the same spot that scored Adon and gave Brooklyn a 2-0 lead in the eighth.
The Spinners made it interesting in the ninth. Matt Mullenbach was brought on by Cyclones manager Edgardo Alfonzo to close the game out. He ran into some trouble by walking both Davis and Nick Decker with two down. Both of them was pinch-run for by Spinners manager Luke Montz. It would also be the end of the line for Mullenbach as Alfonzo went back to his pen and summoned Reyson Santos to finish it. Santos did not get off to a good start in that department as he gave up an RBI single to left by Northcut that scored pinch-runner Luke Bandy and cut the lead to 2-1 Brooklyn.
With the tying run 90 feet away, Montz made one more move. He sent Roldani Baldwin to pinch-hit. This time there would be no Spinners magic as Baldwin hit a fielder’s choice ground ball to Cyclones shortstop Wilmer Reyes who made the flip to second to get Wil Dalton to end the ball game. Brooklyn takes Game 1, 2-1 over Lowell.
After the game, both Northcut and Montz had nothing but good things to say about Cyclones starter Garrison Bryant. Both guys pointed out how Bryant “kept them off balance.” Montz did go on to say “we had chances late in the game, but this time the big hit was not there.” Northcut said: “this team always battles” and they are not afraid of having to go on the road to win this. The road has not been a problem this summer for the Spinners. They won a franchise-record 23 games away from home this summer. Game 2 is Monday night in Brooklyn with a first-pitch start time of 6:30 PM.
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