It was a four-sweep night in the Midwest League playoffs Thursday, as the Lansing Lugnuts, the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Peoria Chiefs and the Cedar Rapids Kernels all advanced to the MWL semifinals.
As a result, the teams with the three best overall winning percentages in the Midwest League this season — the Quad Cities River Bandits, the Kane County Cougars and the Fort Wayne TinCaps — were eliminated from the playoffs. The Great Lakes Loons also were knocked out of the postseason.
Round two of the Midwest League playoffs begins Saturday, with Peoria hosting Cedar Rapids at Dozer Park, and West Michigan hosting Lansing at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Three of Thursday’s games were decided by one run, and the fourth one lasted 11 innings.
Lansing Lugnuts 5, Great Lakes Loons 4
The 9th inning was an exciting one in this game, as the Loons scored two runs in the top half to take a 4-3 lead, only to see the Lugnuts rally for two of their own to win in the bottom half. The winning run scored on a sac fly by Midwest League MVP Ryan McBroom.
Lansing’s D.J. Davis and Great Lakes’ Jordan Tarsovich each had three hits and a run batted in.
Cedar Rapids Kernels 3, Quad Cities River Bandits 1 (11 innings)
The Kernels and the River Bandits each scored a run in the 4th inning before home plate went uncrossed until the top of the 11th inning. Chris Paul’s two-run single made the difference for Cedar Rapids.
Minnesota Twins beat writer Mike Berardino tweeted that Twins pitcher Phil Hughes could make a rehab start for the Kernels on Monday if Cedar Rapids’ second-round series versus Peoria lasts three games.
Peoria Chiefs 3, Kane County Cougars 2
Chiefs LHP Austin Gomber extended his winning streak into the postseason with a victory in Peoria’s clincher against Kane County. Gomber gave up one run on six hits and no walks while striking out seven in six innings. Nick Thompson hit a two-run homer for the Chiefs.
Three Cougars were ejected as tempers flared in the 9th inning. In the top half, pitcher Zac Curtis and manager Mark Grudzielanek were tossed after loudly complaining about a check swing that wasn’t called a strike. In the bottom half, Joe Munoz was ejected after he struck out looking and spiked his helmet. Munoz responded to his ejection by shoving the home plate umpire.
West Michigan Whitecaps 2, Fort Wayne TinCaps 1
Whitecaps starting pitcher A.J. Ladwig gave up a 1st-inning run, but settled down from there to earn the win in West Michigan’s clincher over the TinCaps. Ladwig struck out seven batters in seven innings, and was backed up offensively in part by leadoff hitter Ross Kivett, who went 3-for-5 with two runs scored.