NILES, OH --- Jesus Luzardo and a trio of Vermont relievers tossed a one-hit shutout as the Lake Monsters scored all three runs in the third inning to beat the Mahoning Valley Scrappers 3-0 Monday night at Eastwood Field and advance to their first New York-Penn League Championship Series since 1996 after sweeping best-of-three semifinal series
Will Toffey led off the third with a groundball single to center and advanced to second on a Ryan Gridley walk. Logan Farrar followed with a line drive double to right scoring Toffey and moving Gridey around to third. The Lake Monsters then manufactured their second and third runs of the inning on back-to-back sacrifice flies from Greg Deichmann and Jordan Devencenzi.
That was more than enough for Luzardo, who retired 15 of the17 Scrappers that he faced including three straight 1-2-3 frames to start the game before the 19-year-old left-hander allowed a line drive single to Ernie Clement and walked Nolan Jones to leadoff the bottom of the fourth.
But Luzardo, who joined Vermont August 11th after being traded from Washington organization to Oakland in July, got Ulysses Cantu to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and Will Benson on a comebacker to the mound to strand Clement at third base. Luzardo ended his outing with another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, finishing with one hit, one walk and five strikeouts over his five scoreless innings.
Wyatt Marks came on to start the sixth and promptly hit the first batter he faced before getting a line drive double play and groundout to get out of the inning. Marks then struckout two in a 1-2-3 seventh inning before coming out of the game after walking the leadoff hitter in the eighth.
Logan Salow came on in relief of Marks and Austen Wade, the first batter he faced, dropped one in front of right fielder Deichmann for an apparant hit, but Deichmann was able to get a forceout of Oscar Gonzalez at second base for the first out. Salow then struckout Simeon Lucas for the second out of the inning and gave way to Michael Danielak, who got Hosea Nelson to groundout ending the eighth.
Danielak wasted little time ending the game in the ninth inning as he struckout Tyler Friis, Clement and Jones to clinch the semifinal series for the Stedler Division champion Lake Monsters exactly 21 years to the day that Vermont won its only NYPL championship on September 11, 1996.
Farrar went 2-for-4 with a run scored and the RBI double that gave the Lake Monsters the 1-0 lead in the third inning as Vermont improved to 6-2 all-time in semifinal games played (have won three of its four semifinal series played). Scrappers starter Gregori Vasquez allowed all three runs on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings to take the loss.
Vermont now waits to find out its championship series opponent as Hudson Valley plays at Staten Island Tuesday in third-and-deciding game of their semifinal series. If Staten Island beats Hudson Valley, Game 1 of the finals will be at Vermont Wednesday at 7:05 pm. If Hudson Valley beats Staten Island, Game 1 will be at Hudson Valley Wednesday before series shifts to Vermont for Game 2 Thursday 7:05 and Game 3 (if needed) Friday 7:05 pm.
Ticket information for any championship series game at historic Centennial Field will be announced sometime on Tuesday.
Paul Stanfield is the Media Relations Director for the Vermont Lake Monsters.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.