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Smith helps Dash even Mills Cup Finals
Winston-Salem rallies past Lynchburg, squares series at 1-1
01/22/2013 12:54 PM ET
Kevan Smith's homer in the sixth put the Dash ahead for good.
Kevan Smith's homer in the sixth put the Dash ahead for good. (Steve Orcutt/Winston-Salem Dash)
According to Kevan Smith, the Winston-Salem Dash got their second wake-up call of the postseason.

Smith slugged a two-out two-run homer in the sixth inning Sunday as Winston-Salem rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Lynchburg Hillcats, evening the best-of-5 Mills Cup Finals at one win apiece.

At 87-51 during the regular season, the Dash posted the best record among all full-season Minor League clubs, but they haven't made it easy for themselves in the playoffs. Winston-Salem dropped Game 1 of the best-of-3 Carolina League semifinals against Myrtle Beach before fighting back to win Games 2 and 3, then fell to Lynchburg on Saturday in Game 1 of the Championship Series.

"We've got a great team, a great lineup here," said Smith, who's tied for the league lead with two homers and six RBIs in four playoff games. "One through nine, anyone can hit a homer at any time.

"Losing that first game to Myrtle [Beach] kind of shocked us and woke us up, and the same thing after losing to Lynchburg yesterday. But we've stepped up. [The playoffs] is what you train for, what you play for all season."

The White Sox's Class A Advanced affiliate got on the board first when Chris Curley singled with one out in the third, stole second, took third on Keenyn Walker's base hit and scored when first baseman Chris Garcia dropped a pickoff attempt. The error gave the Dash their first lead of the series.

The Hillcats came right back in the fourth, converting a walk, a hitter, an error and two singles into three runs -- two of them earned -- off Winston-Salem starter Justin Collop.

The Dash responded with three runs in the sixth as Walker doubled and scored before Smith hit his second postseason blast to make it 4-3. Marcus Semien, the White Sox's No. 19 prospect, added a key insurance run with a two-out solo homer in the eighth.

Winston-Salem called on closer Taylor Thompson to get a six-out save, something he'd done only twice in 33 regular-season appearances. The 25-year-old right-hander worked around a one-out single in the eighth but ran into trouble in the ninth, issuing a leadoff walk to Dan Brewer.

Rehabbing Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who homered in Game 1 and doubled in the seventh inning on Sunday, came up with two outs and sent a line drive to the left-center gap, scoring Brewer from first and cutting the margin to 5-4. With the tying run on second, Thompson got Nick Ahmed to ground out, nailing down his second playoff save.

"It's exciting to have [Simmons] here, it really puts things into perspective," Smith said. "For some of us, this is our first full season, and here we are playing against big leaguers."

Smith is 5-for-10 in the postseason. Walker, Winston-Salem's leadoff man, was 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. He also committed an error and was caught stealing.

Reliever Kevin Vance improved to 2-0 in the postseason after tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and fanned one.

Matt Chaffee (0-1) took the loss after allowing two runs on two hits while striking out five over two innings.

The Dash closed out their 2012 campaign at BB&T Ballpark with a 51-25 record, including the playoffs.

Seeking its second title in four years, Lynchburg hosts the rest of the series, with Game 3 set for Tuesday.

John Parker is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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