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Reading clinches playoff berth behind Spencer Howard

Spencer Howard helped lead the Fightin Phils to their first playoff berth since 2016. (Steven Kiebach)

As the Philadelphia Phillies continue to fight for a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2011, their prospect-laden Double-A affiliate punched their ticket to the Eastern League playoffs on Wednesday night at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading. The 2-1 victory over the Bowie Baysox sends Reading to their first playoff appearance since 2016, when they lost in the Seminfinals to the Trenton Thunder.

The Fightin Phils were led by a pair of Phillies top prospects. No.4 prospect Spencer Howard made his seventh Double-A start since being promoted from Clearwater on July 26. The 23-year-old right-hander tossed 5.2 innings of one-run ball, scattering three hits while striking out six and walking three. The outing lowered his ERA to 2.35 with Reading and 2.03 across 15 starts this season between four minor league levels.

Philadelphia’s No. 8 prospect, Mickey Moniak, supplied Reading with their lone two runs on the night. He got a little help from the Baysox defense in the third inning, though. Fightins second baseman Jose Antequera singled to lead off the third. Catcher Henri Lartigue hit a grounder that looked like it would be an easy double play, but the throw wasn’t online and the backstop made it to second with one down. Two batters later, with two outs in the inning, Mickey Moniak hit a single that deflected off the first baseman to score the game’s first run.

Bowie tied things up in the fifth courtesy of a Spencer Howard wild pitch with the bases loaded.  In the bottom of the sixth, Moniak stepped to the plate and launched a solo home run to right field to regain a one-run advantage. Jeff Singer relieved Howard in the sixth and pitched 2.1 scoreless innings with four strikeouts before handing it over to Jakob Hernandez for the 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Moniak and Antequera each had two hits on this night while Cornelius Randolph went 1-for-3 with a double. Following the game, the Fightin Phils celebration spilled over to the pool in right field at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Double-A Reading Fightin Phils conclude their regular season home schedule on Thursday, August 29 against Bowie. They travel to Trenton for a four-game series with the Thunder to close out the regular season campaign before the playoffs begin.

Reading looks to be the lone affiliate headed to the playoffs in 2019. Williamsport, Lakewood, Clearwater and Lehigh Valley are all under .500 entering the final games. The Gulf Coast League Phillies West made the GCL playoffs, but they were cancelled in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian.

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