TinCaps, Bees advance in Midwest
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As the 2009 season winds down, follow along with MiLB.com as the Minors' best teams face off in an attempt to take home their league's crown.
Fort Wayne vs. Burlington
Fort Wayne TinCaps
No one said repeating as Midwest League champions would be easy, and the Burlington Bees are faced with the ultimate challenge as they meet Minor League Baseball's winningest club in 2009, the Fort Wayne TinCaps, for the title. Both clubs squeaked into the Finals, edging their second-round opponents by just one run in their decisive Game 3s last night.
Burlington's Jason Taylor has been the offensive star so far in the playoffs, going 9-for-16 with two homers and six RBIs over five games. Teammate Adrian Ortiz has also been a major contributor, adding nine hits and four RBIs.
The hitting standouts for the TinCaps have been second baseman Vincent Belnome (.385) and his double-play partner Cole Figueroa (.365), who have five RBIs apiece in six postseason games. Of course, it was Robert Lara's extra-inning blast last night that helped continue the TinCaps' remarkable season.
"All year we've battled, we've had a great year and every game it seems like we're not out of it," Lara said after his walk-off shot. "You just had that kind of feeling, it's just a certain swagger we have."
On the pitching side, Bees hurler Ivor Hodgson picked up a win in each of the first two rounds, yielding just one earned run over 11 2/3 innings. Simon Castro has carried his regular-season success into the playoffs for the TinCaps, dominating in both of his starts as well. Both pitched Monday night, however, and will be unavailable until late in the series, if necessary.
The Bees and TinCaps met six times during the year and split those meetings, though both Hodgson and Castro struggled in their lone starts. Fort Wayne took two of three at home in May before Burlington returned the favor in late July, though the TinCaps did outscore the Bees, 40-30, overall.
Dan Marinis is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.