Nationals, Phillies advance to GCL Finals

Three-game championship series begins on Friday

(Cliff Welch/

By | August 28, 2008 10:33 AM

With wins in the one-game Gulf Coast League semifinals Thursday afternoon, the Nationals and Phillies will now face off in the three-game championship series, which begins on Friday, Aug. 29.

GCL semifinals

Nationals 10 - Twins 5
The Gulf Coast League Nationals scored six runs in the first inning and held a lead for the rest of the game to beat the Twins in the GCL semifinals on Thursday afternoon. All but two players drove in at least one run for the Nationals, with second-round Draft pick Destin Hood, Johnathan Ramirez and Brett Newsome each picking up two RBIs. Ramirez's performance also marked his professional debut.

Patrick Arnold earned the win, giving up two earned runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

The Twins, who earned the Wild Card berth, were led by first-round pick Aaron Hicks, who went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, and Anderson Hidalgo, who registered three hits. More

Phillies 7 - Pirates 4
The Gulf Coast League Phillies rushed out to a six-run lead, scoring seven times in the first three innings and holding on to top the Pirates, 7-4, in the GCL semifinals Thursday afternoon. The win advances the North Division champions to the three-game GCL Championship series against the Nationals.

The middle of the order did most of the damage for the Phillies, with Vladimir De Los Santos, Sebastian Valle and Leandro Castro combining to go 7-for-15 with five RBIs. Leadoff hitter Harold Garcia also contributed a two-run homer in the second. Yohan Flande got the start -- and the win -- for the Phils, surrendering three runs in 5 2/3 innings while striking out eight.

On the losing end, Jarek Cunningham went 4-for-4 and drove in three of the Pirates' four runs. More

GCL Finals

Nationals (32-21) vs. Phillies (32-21)
Three-game series from Friday, Aug. 29 - Sunday, Aug. 31


Nationals: SS Esmailyn Gonzalez won the GCL batting title, hitting .343. He also finished second with a .431 OBP and fifth with 31 RBIs and a .905 OPS while stealing nine bases in 11 tries. 3B Ronnie Labrie was right behind Gonzalez with a .429 OBP. He hit .328, good for sixth in the leauge, while also stealing nine bags. OF Chris Curran had 14 steals (ninth-best) while hitting .315. 2008 draftee Adrian Nieto signed late, but the American Heritage High School product went 5-for-16 (.313) in six games. LHP Jack McGeary led the GCL with 64 Ks in 59 2/3 IP. He had a 2.28 ERA in four August starts. He's joined by fellow 2007 draftee Josh Smoker, who had a 1.37 ERA in six starts.

Phillies: The Phils had three toolsy high schoolers taken early in this year's Draft. All have ridiculous upside, even if the performance hasn't consistently been there. What they could do in the playoffs, however, makes them worth watching: 24th overall pick Anthony Hewitt has hit just .197 but has terrific raw power; sandwich pick OF Zach Collier batted .271 with five steals and 19 RBIs in 37 games; and second-rounder Anthony Gose hit .256 in 11 games but hasn't played since July 12. On the pitching side, second-round pick Jason Knapp has impressed with a 2.61 ERA and 38 Ks in 31 IP, though his last outing was Aug. 12. Closer Ryan Bergh was second with nine saves and finished with a 0.64 ERA over 28 1/3 IP.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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