Wahoos' McGuire saving his best for last

Reds righty fans career-best 13 in opener of SL South Finals

Deck McGuire posted a 2.79 ERA with 170 strikeouts over 168 innings in the regular season. (Barrett McClean/Pensacola Blue Wahoos)

By Michael Peng / MiLB.com | September 6, 2017 11:43 PM ET

With Hurricane Irma on the horizon jeopardizing the Southern League playoffs, Deck McGuire wanted to make every pitch count.

"With some of the weather stuff we have coming toward us, we knew that there was a little bit of change in schedule so this might be the last one," McGuire said. "I want to leave everything out there and just try to get everybody out."

Video: Pensacola's McGuire notches 13th K

Taking the bump in Game 1 of the best-of-5 Southern League South Division Finals, the Cincinnati righty struck out a career-high 13 while allowing four hits over eight innings in Double-A Pensacola's 2-0 win over Jacksonville at Blue Wahoos Stadium on Wednesday. The league announced earlier in the day that the semifinal winners will be declared co-champions.

"I had a little bit of everything working," McGuire said. "Having started against them a week ago at their place, we held some stuff back. We didn't throw as many curveballs as I normally would, but I pitched really well with my fastball there. So going into tonight, it was kind of the same plan and just mix in the curveballs."

Gameday box score

The 28-year-old allowed three of the hits in the first two innings, but found his stride from there. He struck out nine of the 13 batters he faced after the fourth, including punching out the side in the eighth to finish his outing at 112 pitches.

"Through about the third inning, I just started to get really comfortable and started to click," McGuire said. "The most fun thing is just give our team a chance to win. I give a lot of credit to [Chris Mazza] , their starter. He's been really good all year and he was really good again. My job was just to keep us in the game and the guys did a great job of putting us ahead and keeping us there."

Complete playoff coverage

After Reds No. 30 prospect Tanner Rainey loaded the bases to begin the ninth, Zack Weiss entered and struck out the first two batters, then induced KC Serna to ground out to end the game.

"The guy is nails, he's been nails all year," McGuire said of Weiss. "The guy has been outstanding all year and it was just really awesome to see him come in and shut it down."

MiLB include

Josh VanMeter drove in both runs as part of a 4-for-4 game.

Being a couple wins away from a share of the championship isn't foremost on McGuire's mind, though.

"We are really just worried about everybody here in Florida," he said. "We just hope that maybe it's not as bad as they are saying it's going to be. We just realized that we are really lucky to be able to play a game for a living with everything people are potentially about to go through." 

Game 2 is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. ET on Thursday at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Other SL playoff action:

Chattanooga 4, Montgomery 3

Twins No. 17 prospect LaMonte Wade drove in two runs and second-ranked prospect Nick Gordon collected two hits and scored once in the opener of the North Division Finals. Box score

Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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