While the Fort Wayne Wizards dropped their opening playoff game, the Mobile BayBears and Portland Beavers accomplished their goal by going up 1-0 in their respective series. A grand slam by San Diego Padres top prospect Josh Barfield ensured victory for Mobile. Jon Knott opened things up with a three run blast in the seventh for Portland. Travis Chick, meanwhile, was bested by timely South Bend hitting.
Portland beat Sacramento 7-2
Every Beaver except J.J. Furmaniak had a hit. Seven different players scored runs. Jon Knott and Ben Risinger had three hits apiece to pace the squad. Portland scored a run in each of the first three innings on singles before busting out with four in the seventh.
Knott broke the game open with a three run homer in the seventh inning. He went 3-for-5, scored two runs and drove in five. Knott had been on fire heading into postseason play. Including Wednesday, Knott is 14-for-34 with five homers, 11 runs scored, and 13 RBI’s in his last seven games.
Brian Sweeney, pitching on three days rest after a short outing on the fourth of September, went 5.1 innings having allowed two runs on five hits and three walks. Sweeney breezed through the first five innings before allowing a homer to open the fifth. That was followed by a triple, a sac fly and a walk before he was pulled. Sweeney has now allowed homers in six straight games.
Mike Bynum, second in the Pacific Coast League with 62 appearances on the year, closed the game out by working two innings. He walked one and struck out five, including whiffing the side in the eighth. It was a season high in strikeouts for Bynum. He had previously recorded four strikeouts in a game four times.
Including the regular season, Bernie Castro has hit safely in seven straight games. He went 2-for-5 with a run scored on Wednesday and is 13-for-27 over the streak. He has, however, only scored four runs.
Mobile beat Birmingham 5-2
With one out in the fourth inning, newcomer Paul McAnulty singled to right for the BayBears first hit of the game and consequently McAnulty’s first hit as a member of the squad. Ben Johnson followed with a single to center, and Rico Washington walked to load the bases. Josh Barfield followed with a home run to left to give Mobile a 4-1 lead.
After a stretch where Barfield had just four RBI’s in 19 games, he turned it on late in the season. Including today, he has driven in 14 runs over his past 14 games.
McAnulty would later drive in Marcus Nettles with a single, his first RBI as a BayBear. McAnulty and Nettles had two hits apiece and accounted for four of Mobile’s six hits on the evening.
McAnulty was the Lake Elsinore Storm’s MVP and a California League post-season All-Star. He drove in 87 with 23 homers. He also tied for the Cal League lead with 88 walks. The outfielder faced a tough month of August, running into a wall and coming away with a just a bump on his head and leaving a game early in mid-August with a foot injury.
Clay Hensley went 6.2 innings, leaving the game with a man on first. Geoffrey Jones could not keep that runner from scoring, tossing a wild pitch and allowing a single. Hensley ended his night charged with two runs on six hits and four walks.
Hensley has allowed nine runs in his last five games dating back to the regular season. The four walks matched a season high, last accomplished on September 3 and fourth time he has walked four in 29 starts.
Dale Thayer pitched the eighth and R.D. Spiehs came on to earn his first playoff save and third save since taking over the full time closing duties. Spiehs has not allowed a run in 11 straight appearances.
Fort Wayne lost to South Bend 4-2
George Kottaras tried to single-handedly carry the Wizards on his back. No other batter on either side had more than one hit – except Kottaras. He went a perfect 4-for-4 with a double and the only two RBI’s for Fort Wayne.
Including the regular season, Kottaras has reached base in 25 straight games. He is 32-for-85 over that span with 23 walks. Over his last five games he is 13-for-22 with five RBI’s.
Christopher Kolkhorst also reached base four times, via a hit and three walks. Yet, he was unable to come around to score. He was picked off first base in the fifth to end the inning. In his 12 game stint to end the year with Fort Wayne, Kolkhorst was hitting .340 and had an eight game hitting streak mixed in.
Travis Chick went seven innings and allowed four runs on six hits, while striking out seven. Chick gave up five of those hits in two innings as South Bend came up with timely hitting. A single in the first was followed by a triple and an RBI ground out. In the seventh, Chick allowed a double to leadoff the inning and a single and stolen base followed to put runners on second and third. A two out single brought both runners home.
Chick had allowed four runs over his last five starts in the regular season, spanning 32.1 innings of work. His six hits allowed matched his second highest total of the season as a Wizard.
Matt Varner struck out the side in his inning of work, getting two hitters looking before the final batter swung and missed. Varner pitched in 15 games with Fort Wayne during the regular season and allowed runs in four games. His ERA was 1.61.
Fernando Valenzuela ended the season with a ten game hitting streak but was held to a whisper, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Valenzuela left seven men in scoring position and eight on base – one in the first, two in the third, two in the sixth and the bases juiced in the seventh.
The Wizards were 1-for-8 as a team with runners in scoring position. With runners on second and third and nobody out in the sixth, they failed to plate a run. In the seventh the bases were loaded with one out and they only got one run.