San Antonio took a 2-1 series lead over the RoughRiders Friday on the back of solid pitching and Cody Decker's bat, putting the club in position to clinch the Texas League championship on the road Saturday night.
Slugging first baseman Cody Decker, who missed most of the second half with injury, came back strong at the end of the year, and has carried it into the playoffs. The 24-year-old UCLA product clubbed a solo homer in the fourth inning to put the club ahead, then launched another one in the eighth inning to provide the ultimate go-ahead run. The strong righty finished the regular season with 13 homers in 177 at-bats, flashing the plus power he has always had. Unfortunately, he continues to struggle to make contact, whiffing 59 times, or 31 percent of his plate appearances.
Casey Kelly worked six innings, giving up a pair of runs on six hits and four walks. He struck out only two, but used a double play and some strong defense behind him to short-circuit several rallies. The athletic 21-year-old was in line for the win before Frisco tied the game off of Jorge Reyes, working in relief. The back end of the bullpen continued to perform as it has all season with Nick Vincent striking out the side in the eighth and Miles Mikolas whiffing two in picking up the save.
Storm cruises into Finals
Lake Elsinore scored early and often, turning the final game of their series with Inland Empire into a 10-2 laugher. They begin a best-of-five series against Rancho Saturday night.
Nate Freiman got things started with a two-run double in the first inning, then came back with a homer with Tommy Medica on in the fifth inning to headline an offense that put up 16 hits, five for extra bases. The giant first baseman paced the Padres system with 111 regular-season RBIs while reducing his strikeout rates and improving his power production over previous years, making him an interesting watch as he jumps to Double-A in 2012.
While Jose DePaula probably appreciated the offensive support, he didn't need much at all. The lanky lefty worked seven scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and no other baserunners. The 21-year-old Dominican struck out three hitters. While his overall regular season numbers were not very exciting, he improved significantly in the second half and could emerge as he gets another offseason removed from Tommy John surgery.
Medica and second baseman Jonathan Galvez each collected three hits, joining Freiman and three others with multi-hit efforts.
TinCaps put away Bowling Green
Fort Wayne advanced to the second round of Midwest League playoffs with a 5-1 victory over the HotRods on the road Friday night. They will learn their opponent for the Division Championship series which begins Sunday later today.
League MVP and most outstanding prospect Rymer Liriano continued his torrid hitting, putting up another 3-for-4 line. The powerful righty came up just a triple short of the cycle, and also swiped two bases. First-rounder Cory Spangenberg was the only other TinCap with more than one hit, reaching base and scoring twice on the night.
Canadian lefty Mark Hardy turned in a gem to claim the victory. The 23-year-old, who finished fifth in the Midwest League ERA race, scattered four singles over eight innings of work, recording seven strikeouts along the way. He extended his personal scoreless innings streak to 21 stretching back over his final two outings of the regular season, and has allowed only 15 runners over that period.