Jake Adams had his ups and downs in his first Carolina League stint but started to turn a corner during the final month of the regular season. He carried that momentum into his first postseason action on the circuit.
The Astros prospect cracked two doubles and drove in a run to lead Buies Creek to a 5-4 win over Winston-Salem in the opener of the best-of-5 Mills Cup semifinals on Wednesday at Jim Perry Stadium.
Gameday box score
"We played these guys a lot of times throughout the season, so we had a good scouting report on what their pitchers are trying to attack us with," Adams said. "All of us hitters were pretty comfortable up there. We just went up, and both teams were swinging it pretty well and both sides were throwing well. But we came out, we had a couple of big knocks in big situations to put us on top. I have a feeling this five-game series is going to be a close one."
Adams started the year with Class A Quad Cities in the Midwest League, hitting .277 with eight homers, 31 RBIs and an .846 OPS. He earned a promotion to the Carolina League on June 4 but put up a .222/.300/.375 slash line in 63 games. However, he turned things around with a .316 average over his final 22 contests.
Following Chuckie Robinson's leadoff homer in the fifth inning, Adams smoked the first offering from Luis Martinez into left field for his first double of the night. The 2017 sixth-round pick came through again in the eighth, battling to a full count against Mike Morrison before ripping a double down the left field line to score Robinson and extend the Astros' lead to 5-3.
"After Chuckie got to second base, I knew that they weren't going to give me anything too good to hit," Adams said. "I was kind of looking for an off-speed pitch because I had [Morrison] a few times before and he really likes his breaking ball. After he threw me a couple of breaking balls low, I knew that was the plan that he was trying to get me out on. ... I got to 3-2 and I was confident he was coming with the curveball or backdoor slider, and he did."
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That run-scoring double proved key for Buies Creek as Ti'Quan Forbes blasted a solo dinger in the ninth for the Dash. Enoli Paredes settled down, striking out the final two batters to pick up the save.
"We have a pretty good bullpen," Adams said. "So if we can get our bullpen two or three extra runs heading into the ninth inning, it really helps out a lot. Our bullpen has been electric the whole year. It was just the one bad pitch that [Forbes] hit the home run on."
Abdiel Saldana started for Buies Creek and allowed two runs on five hits and three walks while fanning three over six innings. Tommy DeJuneas (1-0) picked up the win, yielding a run on one hit in two frames.
No. 7 White Sox prospect Blake Rutherford drove in two runs with a third-inning single. Rehabbing right-hander Nate Jones made the start for Winston-Salem, throwing seven of eight pitches for strikes in a perfect first. Danny Dopico (0-1) took the loss, yielding a run on four walks over 2 1/3 innings.
Game 2 is Thursday in Buies Creek.
In other Carolina League playoff action
Hillcats 5, Nationals 2
Justin Garza (1-0) allowed a run on seven hits and a walk with two punchouts as Lynchburg took the opener of the other semifinal series. Offensively, Dillon Persinger cracked two doubles and drove in two runs, while Indians No. 2 prospect Nolan Jones went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Nationals No. 16 prospect Luis Garcia doubled twice for Potomac. Gameday box score