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Minor Lines 9/14: Greenville Advances To Championship Behind Yordanny Monegro

Paulino, Campbell, and Monegro lead the Drive to a Division Series sweep and Kyle Teel hits his first home run in Portland.

Divisional Series Game 2: Greenville Drive 6, Hickory Crawdads 3

When the Greenville Drive are in the playoffs, they get top billing on Minor Lines. And with a chance for a Divisional Round playoff clincher against the Hickory Crawdads and my boy Yordanny Monegro on the mound, this game reached living room TV status last night.

Monegro looked amped up early, and understandably so considering he was pitching in the Complex League less than three months ago and was now pitching in a playoff game two levels above that. He was missing way up in the zone on many of his fastballs and getting behind in counts but the Crawdads were bailing him out in the first two innings, with Monegro only walking one batter in the five-inning outing. In the first with a man on second and one out for the Crawdads, Max Acosta knocked in Alejandro Osuna with an RBI hit but Allan Castro cut it off in the gap and fired a great throw to second to cut him down.

Things escalated quickly in the bottom of the second inning. After Crawdads starter Emiliano Teodo cruised through the first, his second baseman Cameron Cauley made an error to open the inning. He then had Tyler Miller struck out but the umpire called the “6” a ball for ball four.

Yikes. With the third batter grounding out, Teodo should have had a 1-2-3 inning. Instead, he gave up five runs, four of them unearned, and didn’t make it through the second inning. Credit to the Drive hitters for taking advantage. First, with one out, 2023 fourth-rounder Kristian Campbell knocked in two to put Greenville up 2-1.

Gilberto Jimenez then went the other way with a single, and after yet another error by the second baseman Cauley, Eddinson Paulino made everybody pay and cleared the bases.

Staked to a 5-1 lead, Monegro pitched with confidence allowing just an RBI double in the fourth after that, occasionally skipping off the mound at the end of the inning and leaving with a 5-2 lead.

If that’s the last we see of Monegro this season, he finishes the year with a 6-3 record across three levels with a 2.06 ERA with a 26:93 BB:K ratio over 65 2/3 innings, and emerges as one of the pleasant surprises across the entire system this season. Robert Kwiatkowski relieved Monegro and threw two excellent innings, while the Drive added a run on a Ronald Rosario double in the sixth, extending the lead to 6-2.

A rehabbing Frank German struck out the side in the eighth. In the ninth, things got a bit dicey with Brock Bell loading the bases. Hickory’s Cooper Johnson hit a ball down the right field line that almost emulated Ceddanne Rafaela’s Pesky Pole home run earlier in the day at Fenway. Narrowly escaping a grand slam, the ball was caught by Jimenez for a sacrifice fly and out number two. Bell struck out Cauley, who had a rough day overall, to lock down the 6-3 victory and advance the Drive to the South Atlantic League finals.

Game 1 will be on the road Sunday, playing the winner of tonight’s Game 3 between the Jersey Shore BlueClaws and Hudson Valley Renegades. Games 2 and 3 will be at Greenville on Tuesday, and Wednesday if necessary.

Syracuse Mets 8, Worcester Red Sox 5

In Worcester, the Woo Sox were forced into a bullpen game due to some recent reinforcements needed to pitch in Boston, and lost to the Syracuse Mets 8-5. Oddanier Mosqueda gave up two early home runs in his two innings pitched, staking the Mets to a 3-0 lead. Worcester was shut down by Mets prospect Mike Vasil who struck out 10 in six-plus innings. Trailing 5-0 in the seventh, the Woo Sox got two runners on to knock Vasil from the game, which both came around to score on a David Hamilton sacrifice fly and Enmanuel Valdez RBI walk. After AJ Politi allowed three runs to extend the lead to 8-2, Hamilton and Valdez each got their second RBI in the bottom of the ninth, followed by a Bobby Dalbec single to bring us to the final score of 8-5.

The Woo Sox are 75-65 on the season and have now fallen 6.5 games behind Durham in the International League second half, all but eliminating them from postseason play. Brian van Belle will get the ball at 6:45 this evening, against Syracuse.

Hartford Yard Goats 5, Portland Sea Dogs 4

The Portland Sea Dogs lost to the Hartford Yard Goats on Thursday night 5-4 but there were a lot of encouraging performances from top prospects. Wikelman Gonzalez threw five strong innings, allowing two earned runs, and striking out five. The Sea Dogs got home runs by Alex Binelas (16) and first-round pick Kyle Teel (1) in the first inning.

Roman Anthony continued his breakout minor-league campaign with two hits and an RBI. He’s now 9-for-28 in eight games at Double-A, with seven walks and five strikeouts. Blaze Jordan also added a multi-hit effort for Portland. Unfortunately, Wyatt Olds fell to 0-7 on the year, allowing two runs in two innings. His ERA is 8.47 at Double-A this year.

Sterling Sharp will take the mound at 6:05 tonight for Portland, who are now 72-62 this year.