Baby Bombers 2018 playoff blog: Long Friday night leaves just one team standing
Both of the Yankees' minor-league playoff games took a lot longer than expected to come to fruition on Friday night, but after the third day of the postseason, one squad remains a win away from the next round while the other is headed home for the winter.
TRIPLE-A: Lehigh Valley 3, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 2 (13 innings)
After 13 innings of play at Coca-Cola Park, the second walk-off win of this series went to Lehigh Valley, who staved off elimination by making three the magic number of runs for the third straight game.
Rey Navarro's leadoff homer in the fifth gave SWB a 1-0 lead, and in the sixth, his double made it 2-0 and almost 3-0, if not for Bruce Caldwell being thrown out at the plate; that would turn out to be huge, as Lehigh Valley tied it in the bottom of the frame on Collin Cowgill's two-run homer, and thus it remained into bonus baseball.
SWB had a chance to pull ahead in the 12th, loading the bases with one out, but Ranfi Casimiro struck out Zack Zehner and got Caldwell to ground out to escape. An inning and change later, Danny Ortiz doubled to open the bottom of the 13th, and after an intentional walk, Ryan Goins sacrificed the runners over and Nick Rickles ended it with a walk-off single off Brady Lail.
At the plate, SWB pounded out 15 hits with every player in the lineup recording at least one. The stars of the game, though, were Navarro (4-for-6, 2 RBI, run), Ryan McBroom (3-for-6) and Gio Urshela (2-for-5, BB), and Shane Robinson singled in the seventh to snap an 0-for-12 skid in the series.
On the mound, lefty Ryan Bollinger was strong over his 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on one hit and two walks while striking out four. Behind Bollinger, George Kontos allowed just the homer in his 1 1/3 innings, Cale Coshow (two hits, two walks, four strikeouts) and David Sosebee (one hit, three walks, two strikeouts) pitched two scoreless innings apiece and Lail took the loss after allowing the final run on two hits and an intentional walk in 1 1/3 innings.
The RailRiders still lead the series 2-1, though, and will look to clinch a berth in the Governors' Cup Finals on Saturday. Game 4 will be a 6:35 p.m. ET start and the pitching matchup features SWB righty Michael King against IronPigs lefty Ranger Suarez.
DOUBLE-A: New Hampshire 5, Trenton 1
Trenton and New Hampshire had to wait nearly four hours after scheduled game time to throw the first pitch of Game 3 of their Eastern League Division Series, but in the end, it was worth it for the visiting Fisher Cats, who were victorious in the final game of 2018 at ARM & HAMMER Park.
Thanks to stormy weather in the area, first pitch cams just after 11 p.m. - three hours and 58 minutes behind schedule - and before the clock struck midnight, New Hampshire took the lead, plating three runs in the third on three walks, a wild pitch and a two-run Cavan Biggio single.
Trenton got one back in the bottom of the frame on two singles and a Gosuke Katoh RBI forceout, but Angel Aguilar grounded into a double play to end that inning and Fisher Cats starter Jordan Romano retired the next eight in a row until Aguilar's two-out double in the sixth broke that string.
Brandon Wagner then drew a walk to chase Romano, but reliever Corey Copping got Trey Amburgey to fly out to end the inning, singles by Harold Ramirez and Biggio gave New Hampshire two back in the seventh, and Trenton left a runner in scoring position in each of the final three innings before the 25th season of Thunder baseball ended when Jorge Saez fouled out.
At the plate, Aguilar (1-for-3, HBP) was the only Thunder player to reach base twice. Katoh, Trey Amburgey, Dom Thompson-Williams, Rashad Crawford and Wendell Rijo had the other five hits - the latter two coming ahead of Katoh's RBI - and Wagner's walk accounted for the only other baserunner.
On the mound, Nick Nelson started for Trenton and allowed three runs on four hits over five innings, with four walks and six strikeouts. Matt Wivinis allowed two runs on four hits and struck out two in his two innings, and James Reeves finished the season with two scoreless, his only blemish a hit batsman that was immediately erased on a ninth inning-ending double play.
With the loss, the Thunder are officially swept out of the Eastern League playoffs, dropping the best-of-five series three games to none and concluding their 2018 season. New Hampshire moves on to the Eastern League Championship Series, where they will face the winner of the Western Division Championship Series between Akron and Altoona.