Being with his team for only the past month, Jesus Luzardo had been trying to find his place. But with a big victory Monday, he solidified his spot in the clubhouse.
Oakland's No. 6 prospect allowed one hit and one walk with five strikeouts over five innings as Class A Short Season Vermont topped Mahoning Valley, 3-0, at Eastwood Field for the semifinals sweep. The Lake Monsters reached the New York-Penn League Championship Series for the first time since 1996.
"Bonding together and winning this was big to come out together. So it was definitely good to get the win as a team and celebrate together," Luzardo said. "I felt good. Everything was working for me and the team backed me up."
The 19-year-old got things started by retiring the first nine batters he faced. He ran into a little trouble in the fourth, allowing a single by Ernie Clement and a walk by Nolan Jones to start the frame. But Luzardo utilized his off-speed pitches, getting Ulysses Cantu to ground into a double play and Will Benson to ground out.
"I've never been an overpowering fastball guy, so just working on my pitchability and just being able to mix up the times, that's what really worked out for me," the Florida native said.
After a 1-2-3 fifth, Luzardo completed his night, amassing a total of seven groundouts. Wyatt Marks, Logan Salow and Michael Danielak combined for four hitless frames with the latter picking up the save.
A day after hitting a grand slam, center fielder Logan Farrar went 2-for-4 with a go-ahead double and a walk to lead Vermont offensively. Greg Deichmann and Jordan Devencenzi each knocked a sacrifice fly in a three-run third.
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"[Farrar's] a huge bat. He's our three-hole and he's definitely our anchor right there," the left-hander said. "When he's hot, no one is slowing him down, it doesn't matter what you're throwing. It's definitely good to have him in the lineup, and as a pitcher, you have a lot of confidence in him and in our lineup as a whole."
The Lake Monsters will face the winner of the Hudson Valley/Staten Island series, which is tied at one game apiece.