Patriot League Division Series – Game 6

PBL Western Division Series, Game 6

CALIFORNIA SHARKS 5, SILVER CITY OUTLAWS 2

It’s been a difficult year for California Sharks starter Pierre LaRue.  The right-hander was expected to be California’s ace, but his numbers this season have been more in line with a mid-rotation innings-eater.  Both young righty Kevin Conner and quirky lefty Stu Palmeiro have outshone him this season; accordingly, the coveted Game 1 start in this division series went to Conner, not LaRue.

The bugaboo that’s plagued LaRue all year: home runs.  The right-hander has been unusually gopher ball-prone this season.  The 42 homers he allowed in the regular season were by far the most on the Sharks’ staff.  In his unimpressive Game 2 start, LaRue yielded three homers to the Silver City Outlawsand was fortunate to be bailed out by a late California rally.

LaRue is known as a studious, hard-working, and slightly obsessive technician on the mound.  He has spent much of the season tinkering with his arm slot and delivery, trying to keep the ball in the park.  After Game 2, the righty spent the next two days studying tape, throwing balls against the wall, trying to hone his mechanics in preparation for the critical Game 6.

Was he successful?  It depends on how you measure success.  LaRue was unable to avoid the home-run ball, allowing dingers to RF Nathaniel Wason and C Toby Watson.  But those were the only hits LaRue allowed, and his performance was strong enough to power the Sharks to a 5-2 win that forced a Game 7 in the series.

“When Pierre is on his game, he is a delight to watch,” said Sharks manager Eduardo Aponte.  “Today was a complete joy.”

LaRue (1-0) was aggressive in attacking the strike zone; of the 107 pitches he threw over 8 innings, 70 were strikes.  He kept the ball low and got the Silver City hitters to chase, racking up 12 groundball outs and eight strikeouts.

“Pierre was just toying with them today,” said C Thaddeus Lockley.  “I hardly even had to call any pitches.  I just stuck out my glove and he hit it, over and over.”

Facing a tough opponent in lefty Pedro Rodriguez, the Sharks got their licks in early.  1B Max Ortiz got California on the board with a solo homer in the 1st.  Then they hung three on Rodriguez in the 2nd inning.  Lockley worked a leadoff walk.  3B Johnie Oller tripled him home, and 2B Palmer Strachan followed with a single that plated Oller.  Thanks to an error by Outlaws 2B Dominique Barkan that extended the inning, LF Kenneth Mader had a chance to single home Strachan to make it 4-2.

Rodriguez (0-2) didn’t allow another run over the rest of his 7 1/3 innings of work, but the damage was already done.  “There’s no room for error in these games,” said Silver City skipper John Jarha.  “One bad inning is all it takes.  That’s life in the big leagues.”

Sharks closer Chris Lendon atoned for his Game 4 collapse by striking out the side in the 9th inning to earn his second save of the series.

The series now comes down to a winner-take all matchup at Blue Note Stadium tomorrow, with Palmeiro facing off against Silver City southpaw Rob Tildon.  “As close as this series has been, it always felt like we were gonna end up here,” said Wason.  “We’re ready to go out there tomorrow and take care of business.”

 

9/25/2017, SCO16-CAL16, Blue Note Stadium
 
                       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     R  H  E   LOB DP
2016 Outlaws           0  1  0  0  1  0  0  0  0     2  2  1     2  0
2016 Sharks            1  3  0  0  0  0  0  1  x     5  9  0     8  0
 
Outlaws              AB  R  H BI   AVG    Sharks               AB  R  H BI   AVG
Ivey              dh  4  0  0  0  .130    Corona            rf  5  0  0  0  .250
Brewmaker         3b  4  0  0  0  .200    Ortiz             1b  4  1  2  1  .353
Taylor            ss  4  0  0  0  .200    Smyth             ss  4  0  1  0  .280
Wason             rf  3  1  1  1  .478    Mader             lf  4  0  1  1  .292
Elliott           1b  3  0  0  0  .167    Nix               dh  3  0  0  0  .182
Barkan            2b  2  0  0  0  .176    Canales           cf  4  0  1  0  .174
Watson            c   3  1  1  1  .250    Lockley           c   2  2  1  0  .316
Cardona           cf  2  0  0  0  .368    Oller             3b  3  1  2  2  .333
 Barraza          ph  1  0  0  0  .167    Strachan          2b  3  1  1  1  .400
 Whittier         cf  0  0  0  0  .250                         32  5  9  5
Hintz             lf  3  0  0  0  .214
                     29  2  2  2
 
Outlaws                          INN  H  R ER BB  K PCH STR   ERA
Rodriguez        L 0-2           7.1  8  5  4  5  4 139  79  4.11
Abbas                            0.2  1  0  0  0  0  10   7  0.00
                                 8.0  9  5  4  5  4 149  86 
 
Sharks                           INN  H  R ER BB  K PCH STR   ERA
La Rue           W 1-0           8.0  2  2  2  2  8 107  70  4.50
Lendon           S 2             1.0  0  0  0  0  3  17  11  7.71
                                 9.0  2  2  2  2 11 124  81 
 
SCO: Barraza batted for Cardona in the 8th
     Whittier inserted at cf in the 8th
 
E-Barkan. 2B-Oller(1). 3B-Smyth(1), Oller(1). HR-Wason(4), Watson(2), 
Ortiz(2). RBI-Wason(8), Watson(3), Ortiz(5), Mader(3), Oller 2(4), 
Strachan(5). SB-Barkan(2). CS-Ortiz, Canales. K-Ivey, Brewmaker, Taylor 4, 
Wason, Elliott, Watson, Cardona, Hintz, Mader 2, Lockley, Strachan. BB-Wason, 
Barkan, Nix, Lockley 2, Oller, Strachan. 
GWRBI: Oller
Temperature: 70, Sky: clear, Wind: none.

 

PBL Eastern Division Series, Game 6

KNOXVILLE SMOKIES 5, JACKSONVILLE DRAGONS 3

Knoxville Smokies SS Armand Moriarty is not a household name.  He’s not among the league leaders in batting average or home runs.  He’s a steady but unspectacular fielder.  He’s not the type to boast or give colorful quotes to the press.  He’s a professional, reliable player, but not someone who stands out in a crowd.

Moriarty might become a household name after this series, though.  In today’s Game 6, Moriarty went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .375 for the playoffs.  And one of his hits was a two-run homer that broke a tie in the 8th inning and lifted Knoxville to a 5-3 victory over the Jacksonville Dragons that tied the series at three games apiece.

“Y’all ain’t rid of me yet!” crowed Smokies manager Snuff Wallace after the game.  “But y’all better get used to saying Armand Moriarty’s name.  He ain’t a big talker, but he’s a damn assassin.  He’s one of those guys that just does his business and moves on.  Just like we’re gonna do after tomorrow!”

The Smokies didn’t expect that the game would be as close as it was, based on the pitching matchup.  Knoxville sent their ace, Elicio Santana, to the hill in this must-win game.  Jacksonville was expected to counter with Bryce Hobbs, following the examples of Biggs McGee and Kyle Palmer and starting on short rest.

But Hobbs indicated that he wouldn’t be able to go today, so manager Steve Califano turned instead to 24-year-old Juan Sarmiento.  The young right-hander is famous for two things: a fastball that regularly touches the triple digits, and a complete lack of control.  “Juan can throw a grape through a brick wall,” said Califano, “if he can find the wall.”

When his team needed him, though, Sarmiento delivered.  Over 7 innings, Sarmiento was effectively wild, striking out nine and walking four while allowing only five hits.  Of the three runs he gave up, only one was earned.

“I was proud to be the man for my team,” said Sarmiento.

Santana was even stronger for Knoxville.  After allowing two runs in the 1st on a mammoth blast by Dragons LF Rob Hartley, Santana gave up only a single over the next 5 innings.  In the 7th, though, Jacksonville tied the score on a solo shot by DH Sandy Soltero.

In the bottom of the 8th, Sarmiento gave way to reliever Razor Corridon, one of the Dragons’ rock-solid troika of late-inning relievers.  Today, though, Corridon was off his game.  The first pitch he threw was ground back up the middle by Smokies 1B Eddie Battin for a single.  The next batter, RF Jackson Campo, got overeager and popped a changeup to third for the first out.  That brought Moriarty to the plate.

Corridon started Moriarty with a slider that dove out of the zone; the shortstop didn’t bite.  Ball one.  Corridon then went for an inside fastball; Moriarty offered at it and missed.  One and one.

Dragons C Judson Teachout called for another fastball, but Corridon shook him off and went to the changeup.  “I thought I could get Moriarty out front, like I did with Campo,” said Corridon after the game.  “I figured he was sitting dead red.”

Moriarty, though, was ready for the pitch, and drove a high fly ball to left center.  Dragons CF Alfonso Leon raced back toward the track, but the ball kept carrying and finally came down ten rows deep for a two-run homer.

“When I saw him shake [off the sign], I figured he was going to something off-speed,” said Moriarty.  “So I took a beat, then I swung.”

Knoxville closer Charlie Pasternak succeeded where Corridon had failed, tossing a scoreless 9th for his second save of the series.

Brash as ever, Wallace guaranteed a victory in tomorrow’s deciding game.  “Now’s the time for the champs to rise up,” said the Knoxville skipper.  “This is our time.”

 

9/25/2017, JAX16-KNX16, Rocky Top Park
 
                       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     R  H  E   LOB DP
2016 Dragons           2  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0     3  4  1     4  1
2016 Smokies           1  2  0  0  0  0  0  2  x     5  9  1     8  1
 
Dragons              AB  R  H BI   AVG    Smokies              AB  R  H BI   AVG
Taliaferro        2b  4  0  0  0  .192    Johnson           lf  3  1  1  0  .250
Kapoor            3b  3  1  0  0  .409    Campo             2b  3  0  1  2  .250
Hartley           lf  4  1  2  2  .304    Battin            1b  4  1  1  0  .261
Soria             1b  2  0  0  0  .217    Campo             rf  4  0  1  0  .304
Hopps             rf  4  0  1  0  .273    Moriarty          ss  4  1  2  2  .375
Leon              cf  4  0  0  0  .136    Credle            c   3  1  1  0  .318
Soltero           dh  4  1  1  1  .190    Blair             cf  4  1  0  0  .095
Teachout          c   3  0  0  0  .190    Valentim          dh  2  0  1  1  .316
Herdt             ss  3  0  0  0  .412     Arias            pr  0  0  0  0  .000
                     31  3  4  3           Gaytan           ph  0  0  0  0  .000
                                          Figeroa           3b  3  0  0  0  .250
                                           Aceuedo          ph  1  0  1  0 1.000
                                                               31  5  9  5
 
Dragons                          INN  H  R ER BB  K PCH STR   ERA
Sarmiento                        7.0  5  3  1  4  9 120  69  1.29
Corridon         L 0-1           1.0  4  2  2  1  1  28  15  9.00
                                 8.0  9  5  3  5 10 148  84 
 
Smokies                          INN  H  R ER BB  K PCH STR   ERA
Santana          W 2-0           8.0  3  3  2  2 11 114  79  1.69
Pasternak        S 2             1.0  1  0  0  1  0  20  12  0.00
                                 9.0  4  3  2  3 11 134  91 
 
KNX: Arias ran for Valentim in the 7th
     Gaytan batted for Arias in the 8th
     Aceuedo batted for Figeroa in the 8th
     Aceuedo moved to 3b in the 9th
 
E-Taliaferro, Figeroa. 2B-Johnson(1). HR-Hartley(4), Soltero(1), Moriarty(2). 
RBI-Hartley 2(10), Soltero(3), Campo 2(4), Moriarty 2(5), Valentim(1). 
SB-Campo(1), Arias(1). K-Taliaferro 3, Kapoor, Hartley, Soria, Leon 2, 
Soltero, Teachout, Herdt, Johnson, Battin, Campo, Moriarty, Credle, Blair 2, 
Figeroa 3. BB-Kapoor, Soria 2, Johnson 2, Credle, Valentim, Gaytan. SH-Campo. 
PB-Teachout 2. 
GWRBI: Moriarty
Temperature: 79, Sky: cloudy, Wind: left to right at 6 MPH.
Advertisements