- Adam Rubin, ESPNNewYork.com
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DAYTONA 3, ST. LUCIE 1: In the opener of the best-of-five Florida State League championship series, Eric Niesen surrendered two eighth-inning runs as Daytona broke a 1-all tie. St. Lucie starter Armando Rodriguez tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings, but departed after a rain delay. John Church took over after the stoppage and carried the scoreless effort into the sixth, when Daytona evened the score at 1. Wilmer Flores' first-inning single had scored Pedro Zapata with the game's opening run. Fourteen straight St. Lucie batters were retired at one point until Juan Centeno's one-out single in the eighth. Centeno was stranded in scoring position when Gilbert Gomez struck out. Box
SAVANNAH 3, AUGUSTA 2: Rehabbing Johan Santana was the initial story, but Blake Forsythe became the story at the end as Savannah evened the best-of-three series at a game apiece and forced a winner-take-all Game 3 for the Southern Division title Saturday. Forsythe entered as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth and drove a double to left field, short-hopping the wall and plating Albert Cordero from first with the decisive run. Santana threw 39 pitches over three innings for the Gnats. He worked around a one-out single in the first before yielding an unearned run in the second. In the second, with one out, he walked Devin Harris. Santana then induced a bouncing ball from Michael Mergenthaler. Gnats second baseman Luis Nieves fielded the grounder, but his throw to second was low and too far toward the left-field side for shortstop Wilfredo Tovar, who had gone airborne to elude the oncoming runner. The throwing error allowed Harris to reach third and Mergenthaler to reach first base safely. Augusta’s Jeff Arnold then shot a single to third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez’s left, which scored Harris with the game’s opening run. In the third inning, Santana retired the side in order on nine pitches, while picking up his first and only strikeout. The Gnats evened the score at 1 in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Nieves. Savannah took a 2-1 lead an inning later. Darrell Ceciliani, who was 4-for-4, singled to center to start the inning. Ceciliani scored all the way from first, when Augusta starter Shawn Sanford threw Tovar’s sacrifice bunt down the right-field line. Augusta evened the score at 2 in the seventh against reliever Taylor Whitenton, who had been scheduled to start Game 2, before he was pushed to the bullpen by Santana’s rehab. Whitenton struck out six in his 3 1/3 innings. Adam Kolarek relieved Whitenton in the seventh and stranded two runners before working a scoreless eighth to earn the win. Hamilton Bennett set down the side in order in the ninth to earn the save. Phil McCormick, who gave up the single to Cordero, was charged with the loss. The Gnats are scheduled to send right-hander Erik Goeddel (3-5, 3.39) to the hill Saturday against Augusta right-hander Taylor Rogers (12-10, 2.91) for the right to earn a berth in the South Atlantic League championship series. Box
BROOKLYN 12, STATEN ISLAND 5: The Cyclones pounded out 16 hits, including homers from Charley Thurber and Richard Lucas, to force a winner-take-all Game 3 Friday at 7:05 p.m. at Staten Island. Left-hander Carlos Vazquez (4-2, 3.61) opposes Staten Island right-hander William Oliver (5-2, 3.42). Rafael Montero (1-0) earned Thursday’s win as Cyclones relievers combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings. The Cyclones struck first. Cole Frenzel was hit by a pitch to start the second inning. Left fielder Cody Grice later lost a popup in the sun, which allowed Frenzel to score from first. Brian Harrison was credited with an RBI. The sun, which proved to be a factor throughout the game, also played a role in the bottom half as Staten Island took its lone lead. Reymond Nunez, Casey Stevenson and Zach Wilson hit consecutive fly balls to center field. Each time Travis Taijeron had difficulty, leading to a pair of runs and a 2-1 Baby Bombers lead. In the third, the Cyclones took advantage of Staten Island miscues to take the lead for good. Brandon Brown and Thurber singled and Lucas reached on shortstop Cito Culver’s error, which loaded the bases with two out. Frenzel then placed a two-run bloop single into left field. The lead swelled later in inning as third baseman Tyler Austin committed an error, which plated Lucas. The seesaw scoring continued in the Yankees’ next turn at-bat as a pair of throwing errors on the same play -- by Brown at second base and catcher Xorge Carrillo -- allowed Mason Williams to score from first on a steal attempt to slice Brooklyn’s lead to 4-3. Once again, the Cyclones responded in their next at-bat. Thurber hit his first professional homer, a two-run shot, as Brooklyn’s lead ballooned to 6-3. An inning later Harrison, who had four hits, smashed an RBI double. In that bottom of the fifth the Yankees loaded the bases against Brooklyn starter Jeff Walters and Montero was summoned from the bullpen. Austin greeted the right-hander with a two-RBI single to trim Brooklyn’s advantage to 7-5, but Montero struck out Reymond Nunez and retired Casey Stevenson to fly out with the tying runs on base. Brooklyn eventually rounded out its scoring with Lucas’ homer. Tyler Pill and Jeremy Gould each tossed two scoreless relief innings to close out the win. Box
Compiled from team reports
DAYTONA 3, ST. LUCIE 1: In the opener of the best-of-five Florida State League championship series, Eric Niesen surrendered two eighth-inning runs as Daytona broke a 1-all tie.