This One Hurt for Spinners
LOWELL -- It was a game the Lowell Spinners desperately needed to win.
Vermont 4, Lowell 3
And just when it appeared an important victory, one that would provide some much needed momentum heading into the final playoff push, was in the Spinners’ grasp, it slipped away.
The Vermont Lake Monsters tied the score with a run in the top of the ninth inning and pushed the decisive run across the plate in the 10th while handing Lowell a 4-3 loss at LeLacheur Park Saturday night.
Lowell has sputtered down the stretch. The Spinners (33-33) have lost their last five games.
Lowell began play Saturday trailing the first place Tri-City ValleyCats by four games in the New York-Penn League’s Stedler Division standings. The Spinners were two games in the rear of the Staten Island Yankees and Brooklyn Cyclones in the wild card race. The Auburn DoubleDays and State College Spikes were also ahead of Lowell in the wild card standings.
With only nine regular season games left to play, the Spinners have their work cut out for them if they plan on dipping their toe in the playoff pool.
“We’re definitely still in it,” said Spinners manager Corey Wimberly. “The only thing we can do is keep battling. I think the guys have done a really good job of that.”
Lowell has been struggling to come through with timely hits recently. But Jonathan Ortega battled through a 10-pitch at-bat before ripping an RBI-triple that evened the score, 2-2, in the seventh. Then Devlin Granberg, who banged out three hits with two doubles, ripped a run-scoring double to left in the eighth to give Lowell a 3-2 lead.
“There were some clutch hits that got us back in the game, and actually got us the lead going into the ninth,” said Wimberly. “And we just couldn’t hold on.”
Vermont tied the score, 3-3, in the ninth on Joseph Pena’s sacrifice fly.
In the 10th inning, each team began the inning with a runner on second base. The runner at second base was the player, or a substitute, in the batting order previous to the leadoff batter of the inning.
Jeremy Eierman drove in the winning run for the Lake Monsters with a sacrifice fly to left field.
In the bottom of the tenth, Lowell had the potential tying run on third with only one out and failed to score.
“We battled,” said Wimberly. “I think the difference in that ball game was executing situational hitting. We left some runners on third base with less than two outs. That turned out to be the difference, especially in an extra-inning ball game. The team that does the fundamentals usually ends up on top.”
Lane Milligan had two hits for Lowell, including a triple, and scored a run. Milligan also made a nice diving catch in right field for the third out in the top of the fourth.
Ortega notched three hits.
Vermont reliever Jaimito Lebron (1-0) earned the win on the mound. Kevin Biondic (1-2) was the losing pitcher.
Brian Brown started on the mound for Lowell, and pitched two scoreless innings. Brown didn’t allow a hit, walked one had three strikeouts while lowering his ERA to 2.08. The start was Brown’s 10th of the summer.
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi