Akron RubberDucks 4, Trenton Thunder 2
Box Score - RubberDucks lead series, 2-0 (Best of 5)
The Akron RubberDucks took Game 1 with a big inning, and they did the same in Game 2. This time around, it was not quite a grand slam, but Greg Allen, Yan Gomes, Jordan Smith, and Nellie Rodriguez all started off the third inning with hits and scored three runs, giving Akron a lead they would never relinquish.
Smith was the only RubberDucks batter with a multi-hit day, racking up three total, including two doubles.
The real star of this game was pitcher Rob Kaminsky, who turned in an excellent 6.2 innings of work, complete with eight strikeouts and no walks. Considering his rough start to the season, seeing Kaminsky finish so strong — not just today, but over the last several months — is very encouraging.
With a commanding two-game lead, the ‘Ducks will look to clinch the Eastern League title Friday night at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Lynchburg Hillcats 5, Myrtle Beach Pelicans 3
Box Score - Hillcats lose series, 1-3 (Best of 5)
The Lynchburg Hillcats were fighting for their playoff lives yesterday, but were sunk by a three-run seventh inning late. Unfortunately, unlike the Golden State Warriors, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans cannot blow a 3-1 lead in the finals as this is a best-of-five series.
Starting pitcher Matt Esparza started strong, but was replaced after 4.2 innings and 79 pitches. Esparza finished with six strikeouts and three walks — only one of the two runs that crossed the plate while he was on the mound counted as an earned run. Billy Strode closed out the fifth successfully, as well as part of the sixth inning. Then it was Mitch Brown’s turn.
The 22-year-old Brown has had a rocky season with the Hillcats, which apparently carried over into his lone relief appearance in the Mills Cup finals. He started by walking leadoff batter Charcer Burks then allowed two singles and a wild pitch before recording his first out. By the time the inning was over, the Pelicans had scored three runs.
Although the game was still in range, especially for this Hillcats offense, they were shutout in the final three innings. The only production came from the top-third of the Lynchburg lineup. Tyler Krieger, Francisco Mejia, and Yu-Cheng Chang combined to go 7-for-16 with a home run and two doubles, while the rest of the lineup was a combined 1-for-17 with 12 strikeouts.
Bobby Bradley all but disappeared in the playoffs, especially the finals. Between the series against the Potomac Nationals and these finals against the Pelicans, Bradley went 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts. At 20 years old and with 485 plate appearances under his belt this season, fatigue could definitely be a factor.
The Hillcats season is officially over. Between Francisco Mejia’s hit streak, Bobby Bradley’s power, talent continually flowing in from Lake County, and a great pitching staff early on, they provided us with one of the most-fun teams to watch in the Tribe farm system.