LOWELL, MA - For the first time since 2009, there was playoff baseball at LeLacheur Park. With the Hudson Valley Renegades in town, the Spinners kicked off the New York-Penn League semifinals in heartbreaking fashion.
The Renegades jumped on starter Mike Shawaryn early. A four-run second inning cast a bleak shadow over LeLacheur. Shawaryn, lasted only 1.2 innings while giving up three earned runs on five hits.
A resilient Spinners offense cut into the lead in the bottom of the third. With runners on second and third, Tyler Hill sent a bloop single up the middle to bring in Chris Madera and make it a 4-1 ball game.
The comeback continued in the bottom of the fourth when the Spinners put two aboard early. Carlos Tovar then brought home Tucker Tubbs with a sac fly to right to make it 4-2. The offense kept rolling when Nick Sciortino brought home a run on a fielder's choice to make it a one-run game.
The offense completed the comeback when CJ Chatham led off the inning with a leadoff double. Tyler Hill moved him over to third with a beautiful sac bunt before August's New York-Penn League Player of the Month Bobby Dalbec came to the plate to draw a walk. On ball four, the ball skipped away from the catcher as Chatham came in from third to tie the game.
With momentum on their side, the Spinners put runners on the corners in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs in the ninth, Tyler Hill hit a chopper which the third baseman sailed the throw to first, bringing home Sciortino to take the lead.
The Renegades struck back with a tying run of their own in the top of the seventh to make it 5-5. The run marked the end of a phenomenal relief appearance for Danny Zandona in which he threw 4.2 innings with three strikeouts, one walk, and allowed only three hits.
The bullpen continued to excel for the Spinners with Dioscar Romero working out of back-to-back jams in the eighth and ninth inning. With runners on second and third in the ninth and a full count, Romero struck out Jose Rojas with a fastball to get out of the inning.
With runners on the corners in the bottom of the ninth, Yoan Aybar grounded out to second to send the game to extra innings.
In the top of the 11th, Hudson Valley's Jake Fraley hit a solo home run to right off Romero to put the Renegades on top 6-5.
The Spinners efforts would fall short in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Tyler Hill was called out at first on a controversial groundball to give the Spinners two outs. Bobby Dalbec then drew his fourth walk of the night but Jagger Rusconi grounded out to first to end the game.
With the loss, the Spinners head to Hudson Valley tomorrow night for Game 2 with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Red Sox first round draft pick Jason Groome takes the hill as the Spinners need a win to avoid elimination.