Special Playoff Edition
In the Southern League championship, Tennessee received great performances from Jae-Hoon Ha, Brooks Raley, and Nelson Perez. But it was not meant to be, as the Smokies ended up falling to Mobile 3 games to 1, ending the 2011 minor league season.
To find out how each game unfolded, take a look as this special edition of the Down on the Farm Report.
The Southern League Championship got underway on Wednesday, with the Mobile BayBears defeating Tennessee 6-3. Things looked good for the Smokies, as Jae-Hoon Ha blasted a solo home run in the first inning. Tennessee was starting the usually consistent Marco Carrillo, but his inability to get the third out in the third inning cost him. With two out, Carrillo surrendered a two-run single to put Mobile up 2-1. Then next batter took Carrillo deep to make the score 5-1. Oswaldo Martinez put out the fire, but after Steve Clevenger dropped a foul pop to start the fourth inning, Martinez served up a solo homer to make it 6-1.
Tennessee tried to bounce back, as Kevin Rhoderick, Dan Berlind, Jeffrey Beliveau, and Marcus Hatley held the BayBears scoreless the rest of the way. In the fifth inning, pinch-hitter Ty Wright delivered a two-run bomb to make the score 6-3 … and that’s how the game finished. Jae-Hoon Ha led the Smokies with a 2-for-4 night at the plate.
On Thursday, three singles off of Rafael Dolis in the eleventh inning broke a 0-0 tie, with Mobile edging the Smokies 1-0. Tennessee needed the best effort from starter Brooks Raley, and they got it. Raley kept the Smokies in the game by giving up only one hit and striking out five in six innings. Jeff Stevens pitched a scoreless inning in relief of Raley. Jeffrey Beliveau then fanned three in two shutout innings to set up Dolis.
The best chances to score for Tennessee were in the first and eighth innings. James Adduci led off the game with a single, and then stole second. Adduci was out at third while trying to advance on an over-throw. Two batters later, Blake Lalli doubled, only to be left stranded. With two out in the eighth, Lalli doubled again and was lifted for pinch runner David Macias, who advanced to third on a wild pitch. However, Rebel Ridling grounded out to end the threat.
Faced with elimination on Saturday, Tennessee kept their fans in suspense before finally pulling away in a 4-2 thriller to stay alive. Ryan Searle started for the Smokies, and gave up two unearned runs in the first inning before finally settling in. Searle allowed only three hits over five innings while striking out three batters. Tennessee cut the lead in half in the third inning. Rebel Ridling led off with a walk, and came around on Nate Samson’s double.
That was now the score would stay until the bottom of the eighth inning, as Hung-Wen Chen and Jeffrey Beliveau shut down Mobile for three innings, allowing only two baserunners between them. With one swing of the bat, pinch-hitter Nelson Perez tied the game. Perez led off the eighth with a solo home run. James Adduci followed with a walk, and was sacrificed to second by Jae-Hoon Ha. An intentional pass to Blake Lalli put runners on first and second for Ridling.
Rebel Ridling singled in Adduci and put Tennessee ahead. One out later, Steve Clevenger walked to load the bases. Pinch-runner David Macias then scored, as a fielding error on a ball hit by Samson brought him home. Rafael Dolis made it interesting by giving up a two-out single, but got the final out to preserve the victory.
Needing another win to even up the series on Sunday, Tennessee fell short for the third consecutive year to claim the Southern League title, losing to Mobile 6-4. The Smokies’ youngest player, Jae-Hoon Ha did everything he could to keep the team in the game. In the bottom of the first, Ha drilled a 2-0 pitch into the left field bleachers for a solo home run. Starting pitcher Trey McNutt couldn’t hold the lead, serving up a two-run home run in the second inning.
That score would remain until the sixth inning, with McNutt going 4.1 innings and striking out three batters. Kevin Rhoderick got the final two outs of the fifth inning, setting things up for Marcus Hatley. A leadoff solo home run and two more earned runs later, Hatley was replaced by Jeff Stevens without recording an out. A James Adduci error led to another run to make the score 6-1 BayBears.
Tennessee tried to come back in the seventh, as Junior Lake drew a one out walk and Jonathan Mota singled. Pinch-hitter Nelson Perez delivered an RBI single, scoring Lake. One out later, Jae-Hoon Ha smacked a two-run double to make it 6-4, but the rally ended there. Dan Berlind struck out three in two perfect innings to keep up Tennessee’s hopes. However, Ha struck out after Adduci’s two-out single in the ninth, ending the Smokies’ quest for the championship, for 2011.
News and Notes
Left-Handed pitcher Jeffrey Beliveau will join OF Brett Jackson in representing the United States in the Baseball World Cup, October 1-15, 2011 in Panama; and the Pan-American Games, October 14-30, 2011 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.
The Arizona Fall League will begin play on October 4. The Dominincan Winter League will start on October 14. The Australian Baseball League begins in November 3. The schedules for the Mexican Pacific League, the Puerto Rican League, and the Venezuelan League are not available at this time.
This concludes ChicagoCubsOnline’s 2011 season coverage of the minor leagues. Coverage will continue with the beginning of the Arizona Fall League. Until then, for the Down on the Farm Report, this is Tom U., signing off.
Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO