After dropping a 6-5 decision in Game 1 of the Appalachian League semifinals on Saturday night, Pulaski manager Luis Dorante -- a former Minor League backstop -- channeled a Hall of Fame catcher in delivering a message to his team.
"It's not over until it's over," Dorante reminded his club before 18-year-old Luis Medina stepped onto the mound for his first postseason start. "We just got to come back today and keep our head up. Stay relaxed. It's already hard enough to play this game, don't make it harder."
The Yankees' 27th-ranked prospect tossed five scoreless innings as Pulaski beat Bluefield, 6-4, at Bowen Field to even the best-of-3 series at one win apiece. Medina gave up three hits and a pair of walks while striking out five.
"We got a bunch of kids that are 18, 19 and [it's] probably their first time facing a playoff atmosphere and Medina was not fazed by that," Dorante said. "We saw that in the first inning. He was around the zone and we said to ourselves, 'He's going to have his 'A' game for us tonight.' All the pitches were working."
In 10 appearances with Pulaski and in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, Medina (2-2) posted a 5.35 ERA with 39 strikeouts and a .214 opponents' batting average over 38 2/3 innings.
The Yankees slugged three homers in support of Medina, getting solo shots from Ricky Surum and Eric Wagaman and a three-run blast from Andres Chaparro. Chaparro and Wagaman have been mainstays in the heart of the Pulaski lineup with seven and five homers, respectively, to lead all players on the playoff roster.
"It was huge to come in and get some good at-bats and hit the ball out of the park," Dorante said. "For them, it's a lot of building back the confidence that they had during the regular season. They were patient enough to get the fastball that they were looking for."
For Surum, it was the second time he's gone deep in 43 Minor League games. Jesus Bastidas contributed an RBI single in the second that gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
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Antony Fuentes got the Blue Jays on the board with a solo homer in the seventh and Brandon Grudzielanek smacked a two-run single to center an inning later. Bluefield brought the potential tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Chad Martin got Blue Jays No. 25 prospect Kevin Smith to fly to center for the save.
The decisive third game is Monday in Bluefield.
In other playoff action:
Greeneville 3, Elizabethton 2
Juan Pineda ripped a go-ahead triple in the eighth inning as the Astros took the opener of the other best-of-3 semifinal. With Game 1 pushed back a day due to rain, the teams traded solo homers in the second, with J.J. Robinson going yard for Elizabethton and Frankeny Fernandez answering for Greeneville. Fernandez gave the Astros the lead with an RBI single in the fourth, but the Twins got even on Jose Miranda's RBI double in the top of the eighth. Box score