Three of the four teams left in the playoffs have a chance to advance to the Midwest League Championship Series with a win Monday. The fourth team would need a win Monday and Tuesday to go to the league finals.
After losing the series opener 9-3 Saturday, the Clinton LumberKings rebounded with a 6-1 win Sunday to tie the best-of-three Western Division finals at a game apiece, forcing a decisive Game 3 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels to be held at Ashford University Field on Monday night.
The LumberKings got a dominant start from RHP Kevin Gadea, who gave up only one unearned run on four hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out 11 batters before three Clinton relievers combined to fan six more over the next three innings.
Chris Mariscal led Clinton’s offense with two doubles and three runs batted in. Rayder Ascanio also drove in two runs for the LumberKings.
The Game 3 starting pitchers will be RHP Nick Neidert for the LumberKings and RHP Sean Poppen for the Kernels.
Loons take 1-0 lead in ED finals
The Eastern Division finals got underway at Dow Diamond on Sunday, as the Great Lakes Loons beat the West Michigan Whitecaps to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. The Loons rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 7th to make the score 4-1 in their favor, and it stayed that way.
Neither starting pitcher figured in the decision, but both pitched well. Whitecaps LHP Eudis Idrog gave up one run on two hits and three walks while striking out eight batters in five innings. Kernels LHP Caleb Ferguson gave up one run on six hits while striking out six batters and walking none in five innings.
Kernels RHP Ivan Vieitez got the win in relief after giving up only two hits and striking out three batters in three scoreless innings.
The Whitecaps will send RHP Sandy Baez to the mound for Game 2 of the series Monday at Fifth Third Ballpark. (The Loons hadn’t announced their starting pitcher as of when I wrote this.) The Loons need one win to advance to the Midwest League Championship Series. The Whitecaps need to win Monday and Tuesday to advance to the league finals.