Daytona Advances in FSL; Great Falls Clinches In Pioneer League

Daytona Advances in FSL; Great Falls Clinches In Pioneer League

Thursday Sept. 8, 2011
Posted: 10:00 p.m.
CUBS Daytona A
The Cubs exploded for four eight-inning runs Thursday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, racing by Dunedin, 4-3, to capture their opening-round series in the Florida State League playoffs. Daytona will face St. Lucie, which topped Bradenton, in the best-of-five finals beginning Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Dunedin held a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the eighth before Mike Brenly and Evan Crawford led off with back-to-back singles. Logan Watkins walked to load the bases and the Jays changed pitchers, bringing in Aaron Loup. He fared no better, though, giving up consecutive run-scoring singles to Matt Cerda and Justin Bour.

Greg Rohans sacrifice fly then tied the score. Abner Abreu singled to reload the bases and Dunedin went to the bullpen again, bringing in Vince Bongiovanni. He promptly allowed an RBI single to Matt Szczur, giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead.

Jordan Latham earned the victory while Frank Batista picked up the save.

Tennessee AA
Tennessee used five pitchers and a monstrous fourth-inning outburst Thursday night at Smokies Stadium to earn a 9-6 victory over Chattanooga in the Southern League semi-final playoff series opener.

Hung-Wen Chen pitched 1 13 shutout innings in relief of Brooks Raley, who lasted only 3 23 innings, to pick up the win. He was the beneficiary of the big fourth inning in which the Smokies scored seven times. Josh Vitters and Blake Lalli each connected for two-run homers in the inning to fuel the rally. Lalli finished with three RBIs while Jim Adduci chipped in three hits.
WHITE SOXGreat Falls Rookie
The Voyagers clinched the Pioneer League North Division title Thursday night, topping Missoula, 11-8, in the regular-season finale. Great Falls will host Missoula in Game One Friday night before the series shifts for Game Two and Three, if needed.

Mike Earley, Andrew Douglas and Martin Medina were dominant for the Voyagers, combining to go 7-for-14 with two homer, nine RBIs and six runs scored. Earleys three-run double in a five-run sixth erased an Osprey lead, giving the Voyagers an advantage they wouldnt relinquish.

Stew Brase 3-2 earned the win despite allowing three runs on a pair of homers in 2 13 innings of relief. The Voyagers have reached the playoffs five consecutive seasons. Pioneer League pitcher of the year Blake Walters 9-0 will start the opener.
Birmingham AA
The Barons exploded early and then left the game in the hands of Terry Doyle and the ace did the rest in a 9-1 victory over Mobile at Regions Park in a Southern League semi-final playoff series opener.

Doyle, who had eight wins during the regular season, allowed a run in 6 23 innings. He allowed one run or less 10 times during the regular season between Birmingham and Winston-Salem, finishing the regular season with four consecutive victories.

The offense made it easy for Doyle, though, scoring five times in the first and four more times in the third inning. Jake Oesters three-run homer in the first inning was the big blow. He would added a run-scoring sacrifice fly to kick off the fourth-inning barrage. Ken Williams, Tyler Kuhn and Brandon Short added RBI singles.

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

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USA TODAY

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

Illinois' last-ditch effort to reach the NCAA tournament is still alive.

The Illini won for the third straight time and the fourth time in their last five games Sunday night, using a monstrous second half to fly past the Nebraska Cornhuskers by a 73-57 score in Lincoln.

Illinois started the Big Ten season 3-8, but with this recent surge it's up to 7-9 and with two regular-season games remaining has at the very least given itself a much better position in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and perhaps has played itself into a spot on the NCAA tournament bubble.

Defense has been the driving force throughout this recent stretch, and Sunday was no different, with Nebraska scoring just 57 points, the second straight game in which Illinois has held its opponent under 60 points.

But offense told the story Sunday, with the Illini catching fire in the second half and shooting the lights out at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Illinois shot 59.1 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes, including a stellar 8-for-13 from 3-point range. The Illini outscored the Huskers by a 43-29 margin after halftime.

All in all, Illinois shot 48.1 percent on the night and 13-for-26 from behind the 3-point line. The Illini's 73-point output was their highest since Jan. 25.

Malcolm Hill had a game-high 19 points and moved past Cory Bradford for fifth place on the program's all-time scoring list. Tracy Abrams joined Hill in double figures with 13 points. Hill and Abrams each hit four 3-pointers. Maverick Morgan scored 12 points.

Tai Webster scored 17 points for Nebraska, the only Husker in double figures on a poor offensive night. The team shot 37.5 percent from the field and went just 4-for-15 from 3-point range.

Illinois still seems like a bit of a longshot to make the NCAA tournament given its 17-12 overall record and the weakness of the Big Ten this season. But things are getting real late in the season. This surge could very well help the Illini end their three-year tournament drought and could do big things for head coach John Groce, who has had his job status talked about all season long.

Illinois' final two regular-season bouts come this week against Michigan State and at Rutgers.

How Indians regrouped and reloaded after losing unforgettable Game 7 to Cubs

How Indians regrouped and reloaded after losing unforgettable Game 7 to Cubs

MESA, Ariz. — As Major League Baseball officials responded to an unbelievably timed rain delay, Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti huddled in a suite beneath Progressive Field and recognized what he saw in Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer after nine innings in a World Series Game 7.

"(We're) trying to figure out: Hey, what's going to happen here? How long are we going to have to wait? Are we going to have to pick up this game tomorrow?" Antonetti said. "I remember the look on both Jed and Theo's faces — it was the same as mine — just like exhaustion and fatigue and angst."

Soon enough, Epstein would be standing in the visiting dugout, his black suit completely drenched, winging it through a CSN Chicago postgame show interview: "Jed's in charge. I'm going on a bender."

However Cleveland fans processed the 10th inning — at least LeBron James had already delivered the city's first major sports title since 1964 — the Indians regrouped and reloaded as one of the favorites to win the 2017 World Series.

Danny Salazar — who hadn't built himself back up to full strength by the Fall Classic — threw two scoreless innings during Sunday afternoon's 1-1 tie in front of a sellout crowd at Sloan Park in Mesa. The Indians also survived and advanced into early November without frontline starter Carlos Carrasco (broken right pinkie finger) throwing a single playoff pitch or All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley (right shoulder complications) playing beyond May.

But the Indians didn't just sit back in their comfort zone this winter and simply hope for good medical reports and assume their young core players would improve. Sensing an opportunity, Cleveland swooped in around Christmastime and made a three-year, $60 million commitment to Edwin Encarnacion, who put up 42 homers and 127 RBIs last season for the Blue Jays, weakening the team that lost the American League Championship Series.

"It certainly has a positive impact on the momentum that we established and revenue heading into the following season," Antonetti said. "But I still think beyond that, it's been a big leap of faith by our ownership to really step out beyond what may make sense, just looking at where our projections might be.

"It's really a belief in our fan base that they'll continue to support our team and build on the momentum from last year."

Cleveland already paid the price for Andrew Miller — the Yankees wanted Kyle Schwarber or Javier Baez from the Cubs as a starting point last summer — and now control the game-changing reliever for two more pennant races. The Indians also invested $6.5 million in Boone Logan — a reliever the Cubs had monitored closely — when the lefty specialist lingered on the open market until early February.

Between the future Hall of Fame manager (Terry Francona), a Cy Young Award winner (Corey Kluber), the young All-Star shortstop (Francisco Lindor) and the dude from Glenbrook North (Jason Kipnis), Cleveland has way too much talent to be consumed with what could have been in Game 7.

"Hopefully, our guys learned from all of their experiences," Antonetti said. "They went through a lot last year. But I think at the same time, we have an appreciation and realize how hard it is to win, and how hard it was to get to the postseason.

"Continuing that mindset — and remembering what helped us get there — will benefit our guys the most. They'll reflect back and realize we didn't just show up and end up in the postseason and in the World Series. We started that work on Day 1 of the offseason and Day 1 in spring training."