Baby Bombers 2014 Playoff Blog: Yankees1 drop Game 1 of GCL Championship Series
Rafael Devers' two-run homer in the first put the Red Sox on the board quickly against Yankees third-round draftee Austin DeCarr, and they made it 3-0 in the second thanks to an error on first baseman Dalton Smith; with one on and one out in that frame, Smith dropped a throw from DeCarr on a sac bunt attempt by Jhon Nunez to put two on, and after DeCarr struck out Derek Miller, Javier Guerra made the Yankees pay with a two-out RBI single to score Trenton Kemp.
The Yankees1 would soon prove that turnabout is fair play, though, when they got on the board in the fifth courtesy of a Sox miscue.
After Dominic Jose walked to lead off the inning, Leonardo Molina hit a ground ball to second that could have been a 6-4-3 double play, but Sox shortstop Guerra dropped the throw, putting two on with no one out. Brian Reyes advanced the runners with a sac bunt, and Cesar Diaz hit into an RBI fielder's choice - one that saw Molina thrown out at third and Reyes safe at first - to cut the lead to 3-1.
The Sox immediately fought back off righty Gean Batista in the sixth, however, getting three runs thanks to a Josh Ockimey RBI single, a solo home run by Kemp, and an RBI double by Guerra.
The Yankees1 scored in the seventh when Kevin Cornelius singled, moved to third on a passed ball and then a wild pitch, and scored on a Bryan Cuevas sacrifice fly, but the Red Sox bullpen shut the Baby Bombers down from there, with righty Jose Almonte striking out Thairo Estrada to end the game.
Offensively, the Yankees1 collected just seven hits against Almonte and Sox starter Dedgar Jimenez. Cuevas and Drew Bridges were both 2-for-4, Jose was 1-for-3 with a walk, and Cornelius and Estrada accounted for the other runs.
DeCarr took the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) in two innings and Batista was charged with three runs on five hits and three walks in four innings, but righty Christopher Cabrera was impressive in finishing out the game, allowing only two hits and striking out three in three scoreless frames.
The loss means that the Yankees1 must win two games in a row to claim the GCL crown this season. Game 2 is set for Sunday at noon in Fort Myers, and if the Yankees1 win, the deciding Game 3 will be Monday at noon back in Tampa.
However, whether the GCL Championship Series ends in two or three games, it will represent the end of the postseason line for the Yankees' minor-league affiliates, as both Tampa and Staten Island had their slim playoff windows closed over the holiday weekend.
The T-Yanks, who needed a three-game sweep in Daytona this weekend to win the FSL North Division second-half title, saw that dream dashed courtesy of an 8-4 loss at Jackie Robinson Ballpark Friday night. The Cubs tagged Miguel Sulbaran for five runs in 5 2/3 innings and added three more against reliever Chris Smith before he finished out the sixth, and that was enough to clinch them the FSL North Division's second-half crown and officially earn the chance to defend their 2013 FSL Championship.
As for Staten Island, they kept their hopes alive with a dramatic walk-off win over Vermont Friday night, but an extra-innings loss to the Lake Monsters at Richmond County Ballpark Saturday night officially eliminated them from the New York-Penn League's wild-card race.
Despite that setback, the SI Yanks still can help determine who will win the NYPL's wild card; Brooklyn and Connecticut enter Sunday tied for that spot at 40-34, and with Staten Island finishing the season with a home-and-home two-game set with the Cyclones, they can have a big impact on the postseason without actually being there.