The long ball might not have been there for Class A Short Season Hudson Valley during the regular season, but on Thursday, it propelled the Renegades to the New York-Penn League Championship Series.
Backed by round-trippers by Rays' No. 8 prospect Garrett Whitley and Nathaniel Lowe, Hudson Valley rallied to top Lowell, 5-3, and sweep the best-of-3 semifinals at Dutchess Stadium.
Facing MLB.com's top left-handed pitching prospect in No. 4 Red Sox prospect Jason Groome, the Renegades were stifled until the fourth inning, when Whitley hit a first-pitch solo homer over the wall in center field to tie the game, 1-1.
Lowell plated two in the sixth, but Hudson Valley responded with four runs in the bottom half, led by Lowe's two-out, two-run blast to straight-away center.
"We were down, but our guys never give up. They fight," Hudson Valley manager Tim Parenton said. "We had that one stretch [this season] where we won 12 in a row, and we've had some games where we came from behind. So they believe."
They also steal bases. Despite finishing last in the league with 12 homers, Hudson Valley led the circuit with 125 stolen bases to finish ahead of second-place Mahoning Valley by 41. Rays' No. 16 prospect Jake Fraley swiped two in the contest and Miles Mastrobuoni added another. In Game 1, the Renegades swiped two bases and were caught twice.
Parenton said he doesn't plan to let his team ease up on the basepaths for the rest of the postseason.
"Once we get guys on base, we're not going to stop running," he said. "We're going to steal bases. That's our forte and that's what we've done from Day 1. Our guys get on base and they go."
Renegades starter Adrian Navas gave up one run on six hits and a walk while striking out three over five innings.
Brandon Lawson (1-0) allowed two runs on four hits and struck out four over two innings in relief of Hudson Valley starter Adrian Navas, who went five frames. Jayson McKinley worked around two hits and fanned one in two innings to pick up the save.
Groome gave up a run on two hits while striking out three over 3 1/3 frames. Kyle Hart (0-1) gave up four runs on three hits and a walk over 2 1/3 innings.
In other New-York Penn League action:
Yankees 3, Spikes 2
Tommy Edman, who went 3-for-5, drove in two runs in the ninth inning with a one-out single for the Spikes to tie the game. But Staten Island's Drew Bridges led off the top half of the 10th with a homer that proved to be the difference. The series continues Friday night at State College. Box score