Shipley helps Silver Hawks sweep

D-backs first-rounder scatters two hits over seven innings

Braden Shipley was 0-3 with a 4.99 ERA in 12 regular-season starts. (South Bend Silver Hawks)

By Curt Rallo / Special to | September 5, 2013 10:41 PM ET

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Braden Shipley stepped back and took a deep breath in the third inning.

It would turn out to be a last gasp for Great Lakes.

Shipley, Arizona's first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2013 Draft, allowed an unearned run on two hits over seven innings to help the Class A Silver Hawks sweep the Loons in Midwest League first-round playoff action Thursday.

The right-hander struck out four and walked three.

South Bend beat Great Lakes, 5-1, to take the best-of-3 series, 2-0, after Great Lakes had won the regular-season series, 10-5.

Shipley did have a couple missteps, specically consecutive errors on bunts in the third inning that helped load the bases. A groundout by Aaron Miller scored a run and the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder ended the threat by getting Tyler Ogle to hit into a double play.

"I knew that I had messed up on a couple of bunts," said the native of Medford, Ore. "There was nothing to be worried about. I wasn't getting hit hard. Guys weren't hitting it in the gaps."

But Shipley did realize that the moment was a turning point, one way or the other.

"The game could have gone totally sideways right there," he said. "I was really proud of myself for stepping back and breathing a little bit and bearing down. That's part of my competitiveness on the mound. I've always been like that, doing my best to limit an inning.

"I just took a deep breath and knew what I needed to do. In that situation, you're going to give up one run to get an out. I got one out, and then when I had one out, I knew the next thing I needed to do was get a ground ball, and that's what I did, got that double-play ball. That's got to be your thought process. You have to stay composed and your team needs you to be like that as well."

South Bend pitching coach Wellington Cepeda said Shipley's mental toughness, in addition to his talent, checks all of the boxes for a first-round pick.

"Braden has great overall stuff," Cepeda said. "He has a plus changeup that he can command. He can throw it for a strike in any count. In the first inning, he wasn't able to throw a strike with his fastball, so he went to the changeup right away. He had another weapon in his pocket, and he brought it out. He got out of a jam there, and that was huge.

"Then in the third inning, after he made the errors on the bunts, he was able to minimize the damage. Bases loaded, nobody out, he never panicked. He got a fielder's choice groundout, and then a double play."

Cepeda appreciates Shipley's lockdown demeanor on the mound.

"Braden is a really professional kid," Cepeda said. "He works hard in his sidework, prepares himself really well. I probably don't have a starting pitcher in our rotation who prepares and gets focused like Braden does. He has a game plan and then he attacks."

South Bend's Socrates Brito hit Great Lakes hard early in the game and then even harder later.

The outfielder slid hard to break up a double-play attempt in the first as South Bend grabbed a 1-0 lead. Then the 6-foot-2, 197-pound left-handed hitter swatted a two-run homer in the fifth. Brito had only hit two homers in the regular season (one in the opener and one in the finale).

South Bend will meet Fort Wayne in the best-of-3 Eastern Division Championship Series beginning Saturday.

In other action:
Fort Wayne 9, Bowling Green 5

The TinCaps, who lost the regular-season series,10-5, stunned the Hot Rods with a 2-0 sweep in the first-round series. Fort Wayne starting pitcher Zach Eflin allowed three runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out five and walked one.

Eflin was a first-round pick (33rd overall) by the Padres in 2012 . "It was very motivating when we found out that we were going to be playing Bowling Green," he said. "They've been tough the whole year to beat. They're the team that's going to help you move up in the organization, because you're competing against great talent. Every single one of their batters is very talented. You really have to be effective and learn how to pitch to a team like that. Those are the guys you want to go after.

"This was awesome. I like to go into a game thinking it's just another game, but I understand that there's a lot on the line. I just tried to stay relaxed and as calm as I could." Box score »

Beloit 6, Clinton 2
Dylan Covey allowed two runs -- one earned -- on three hits over six innings and John Wooten recorded two RBIs as the Snappers swept their first-round series with the LumberKings.

Tyler Marlette went 2-for-4 and Dario Pizzano plated one run and scored another for Clinton. Gameday box score »

Quad Cities 4, Cedar Rapids 2
Rio Ruiz homered and scored twice as the River Bandits advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

Teoscar Hernandez plated two runs out of the No. 2 spot and Roberto Pena doubled, drove in a run and scored once. Quad Cities starting pitcher Joe Bircher surrendered one run on three hits while striking out four batters over five innings. Box score »


Curt Rallo is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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