Wisconsin’s Michael Pineda pitched a gem, Chris Nash tore up Hagerstown and Mike Stanton came one home run away from making history.
South Atlantic League
Prospect Of The Day
It’s been a tough season for Lake County (Indians) first baseman Chris Nash, a player whose career is expected to be carried by his bat, but he certainly ended it on a high note. Nash went 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and a stolen base as the Captains closed out their regular season with a 12-8 win over Hagerstown (Nationals). The home run was Nash’s fifth of the year, and he drove in a season-high four runs. Nash ends the regular season with a line of .230/.293/.348 in 270 at-bats.
Mike Stanton came tantalizingly close to tying Russell Branyan’s single-season SAL home run record of 40. The Greensboro (Marlins) center fielder hit five home runs over the season’s final six games to finish the year with 39. He hit two, inlcuding a walk-off, on Sunday, then added another yesterday in the third inning of Greensboro’s season-ending 7-6 win over Lexington (Astros). He also drew four walks yesterday (one of which was intentional) and finishes his outstanding year with a line of .293/.381/.611. In the second-half of the season alone, he hit 24 home runs and slugged a monstrous .685 … Lefthander Christian Friedrich had his best outing since the Rockies promoted him to Asheville. Friedrich went five innings against Augusta (Giants) and allowed only one run on four hits while strking out six and walking two … Hickory (Pirates) righthander Duke Welker is another guy who ended a rough season on a positive note. Welker went five innings against Greenville (Red Sox), giving up a run on three hits as the Crawdads went on to win 8-2, allowing Welker to claim just his fourth victory of the season and end the year at 4-13, 5.51. He struck out five and walked two.
Asheville and Augusta will meet for the Southern Division title in a best-of-three series starting tomorrow in Augusta. These two teams ended the regular season against each other with Augusta winning two of three in Asheville. Lake County and West Virigina (Brewers) will meet for the Northern title, starting Wednesday at West Virginia.
Prospect Of The Day
For the last day of the regular season, we’ll recognize the superb effort of Wisconsin (Mariners) righthander Michael Pineda. The 19-year-old struck out 14 Quad Cities (Cardinals) hitters in throwing a one-hit complete game shutout. He retired the first 14 hitters he faced, and the lone hit he allowed was a two-out infield single in the bottom of the fifth. Pineda struck out at least one hitter in every inning and didn’t walk anyone, missing a perfect game by just the infield single. He finishes the year 8-6, 1.95 in 138 1/3 innings, with a 128-35 K-BB ratio.
“I concentrated on keeping the ball down and knowing that they like to swing at a lot of first pitches," Pineda told the Quad City Times through a translator. "I wanted to get that first strike over and get ahead in the count. That let me mix in my slider to go along with my fastball. It was all working.”
Clinton (Rangers) first baseman Justin Smoak went 2-for-5 with a run scored in a 5-4 loss to Cedar Rapids (Angels), putting his line at .304/.355/.518 in 56 at-bats … Dayton’s (Reds) Neftali Soto manned first base for just the second time all year in yesterday’s game against West Michigan (Tigers). He went 2-for-5 at the plate, ending the regular season with a line of .326/.343/.500 in 218 at-bats … Beloit (Twins) righthander Shooter Hunt had a tough outing against playoff-bound Burlington (Royals). Hunt went only two innings while giving four runs on four hits and four walks, with one strikeout. After he tore up the Appachian League, the MWL wasn’t as kind to Hunt, who went just 1-4, 5.46 and posted a 34-27 K-BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings for the Snappers.
You might say the MWL’s playoff system is a little convoluted, but it breaks down this way, with first-half division winners playing the second-half wild-card winners, and vice versa. All first and second-round series are best-of-three. In the Eastern Division playoffs, West Michigan (Tigers) will face South Bend (Diamondbacks) and Lansing (Blue Jays) will face Dayton. In the West, Kane County (Athletics) goes against Burlington (Royals), while Clinton (Rangers) faces off with Cedar Rapids (Angels).