There will be a decisive Game 3 played in Beloit on Friday night at 6:30. The Snappers took Game 1 in Clinton on Wednesday night. On Thursday night, the LumberKings returned the favor, topping the Snappers 7-5 in ten innings.
Cole Johnson started for the Snappers and had a real up-and-down start. In the top of the first, his nerves seemed to show. He gave up back-to-back hits to lead off the game and a walk to load the bases. However, he got a strikeout and a double play to get out of the inning unscathed.
The Snappers got on the board first in the bottom of the 2nd frame. Miguel Sano led off with a double and advanced to third base on a ground out by Kennys Vargas. Drew Leachman flew out to deep-enough right field to score Sano with the gameís first run.
In the top of the 4th inning, the LumberKings got on the board. Ramon Morla doubled and scored on a Guillermo Pimentel home run that put them ahead 2-1.
The Snappers answered in style in the bottom half of the inning. Wang-Wei Lin singled. Eddie Rosario hit a ground ball that could have been a double play. Instead, a throwing error meant that the Snappers had runners on second and third. Miguel Sano came to bat and hit a long blast for a three-run homer. The Snappers held a 4-2 lead.
Again, the lead was short-lived. In the top of the fifth, Clintonís Ji-Man Choi hit a two-run homer to tie the game at four.
The Snappers answered right away again in the bottom of the fifth. Matt Koch doubled and was advanced to third base by an AJ Pettersen sacrifice bunt. Nate Roberts grounded out to second base to score Koch with the Snappers fifth run and a one-run lead.
Cole Johnson settled down at that point. He had 1-2-3 innings in the top of the 6th and the top of the 7th. He went back out for the top of the 8th frame, but he walked the first hitter and was replaced by Corey Williams. The left-hander led the Twins minor leagues this season with 17 saves, but he certainly wsa no dominant. On this night, he really struggled. After getting a fielderís choice, he gave up a long double to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with just one out. An intentional walk loaded the bases to set up a potential inning-ending double play.
Unfortunately, it also set up a potential RBI walk, which is exactly what happened when Williams could not throw strikes to Guillermo Pimentel.
Hard-throwing Zack Jones was brought in to a 5-5 game, but the bases were still loaded and there was just one out. He struckout the next two batters to end the inning. The Snappers went scoreless in the bottom of the 8th. Jones came out for the top of the 9th and struck out the side.
Yes, he faced five batters and struckout all five of them.
The Snappers nearly won in the bottom of the 9th. With one out, Kennys Vargas walked. After a strkeout, Stephen Wickens blooped a single to right field and Vargas advanced to third base. Inexplicably, Nelson Prada then had JD Williams pinch-run for Vargas. Matt Koch struck out on three pitches to end the inning. In the end, the move didnít hurt the Snappers on the surface, but once Vargas was at third base with two outs, it would have taken a hit to score anyone from third, and either would have scored. It would have made sense to have Williams pinch run for Vargas at 1st base. They could have tried to steal second and then a single would have scored him with the winning run. I guess the one reason to put Williams in at third base would have been if a ball got past the catcher. Like I said, in the end, the decision didnít hurt.
Taylor Rogers came in for the top of the 10th inning. The lefty 2012 draft pick has been very good since signing, but this was a rough night for him. Ji-Man Choi hit a leadoff single and advanced to second on a fly ball caught by Eddie Rosario at the wall in right centerfield. Jabari Flash singled to center. Rosario came up with a perfect throw, but it hit something in the infield and bounced over the catcherís head. One pitch later, Guillermo Pimentel drove an RBI single to center, giving the LumberKings a 7-5 lead. After another single put runners on 1st and 3rd, Rogers was able to coax an inning-ending double play.
Needing to score two runs to keep the game going, AJ Pettersen led off the bottom of the 10th inning by being hit by a pitch. Nate Roberts took his spot at first base with a fielderís choice. Wang-Wei Lin walked to set up a scenario that Twins fans would hope for. #3 hitter Eddie Rosario batted with the game-tying run on base and representing the game-winning run himself. Hope was strong in the air until Rosario hit a hard ground ball to the shortstop who converted it into a game-ending double play.
After ending Clintonís 10-game winning streak on Wednesday night on the road, the LumberKings evened the series with a win at Pohlman Field. That is where Game 3 will take place tonight at 6:30. The winner will advance to the semi-finals of the Midwest League. The Snappers will start lefty David Hurlbut who went 6-6 with a 2.76 ERA in 111 innings during the regular season. He walked just 25 batters and struckout 85 (6.9 per nine).Fellow left-hander Matt Tomshaw will also be ready to go if necessary as will right-hander Tyler Jones. It is also likely that Game 1 bullpen arms, DJ Baxendale, Tyler Duffey and Mason Melotakis may be available.
- Cole Johnson 7.0 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
- Corey Williams 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
- Zack Jones 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
- Taylor Rogers 1.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
- Miguel Sano 2-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
- Matthew Koch 2-4, 2B
- Wang-Wei Lin 2-4, HBP