LAKEWOOD, NJ– It had been 2181 days since the Lakewood BlueClaws played in the postseason. It was worth the wait as the BlueClaws took a 1-0 lead on Wednesday night in the best-of-three South Atlantic League division series against the Hagerstown Suns (Nationals affiliate) by a score of 6-1 behind excellent relief pitching and clutch hitting.
Shortstop Emmanuel Marrero notched the first of his three hits in the 5th inning to tie the game at one run apiece. In the same frame, third baseman Damek Tomscha stroked a two-run ground rule double down the right field line to put the BlueClaws ahead 3-1.
“That’s exactly what he’s done all year,” BlueClaws skipper Shawn Williams stated about the righty batting Tomscha. “Seems like he’s always up in a big situation and that’s what he does- he comes through with a big hit.”
Those runs would be enough as the Lakewood bullpen was strong. It was righty reliever Grant Dyer that tossed three scoreless frame to earn the victory. He was followed on the mound with a scoreless frame from both lefty Zach Morris and righty closer Sutter McLoughlin.
“For me, it’s great to watch,” said Williams. “You have these guys that are staying pretty consistent and aren’t really fazed by a playoff game and they showed it tonight.”
Lakewood starting pitcher Alberto Tirado, who had a 7-1 record with a 2.50 ERA in 12 regular season games since the All-Star break, pitched just four innings in the postseason opener. Allowing one run, the righty’s pitch count was high as he threw 81 pitches, 48 of those for strikes.
Hagerstown will host game two (and three, if necessary) when the series resumes on Friday night at Municipal Stadium.
Playoff action elsewhere-
The Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs dropped their International League playoff opener against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre by a score of 2-0. Righty Ben Lively tossed 7 2/3 innings allowing two earned runs on five hits, two walks and eight strike outs, to take the loss. The ‘Pigs notched just four hits in the losing effort.
The Double-A Reading Fightin Phils lost their playoff opener in the Eastern League with a 3-2 loss at Trenton. Right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. (7IP, 5 hits allowed, 3 runs/2 earned, two walks, 10 strike outs) was tagged with the loss. Slugger Dylan Cozens collected two hits, a walk and drove in a run.
The rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies lost the deciding game of their best-of-three title series on Wednesday. Top draft pick Mickey Moniak missed games two and three of the series with an apparent hip issue but is expected to play in the Florida Instructional League later this month.