Courtesy Vermont Lake Monsters
BURLINGTON — Logan Farrar drilled a grand slam home run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Vermont Lake Monsters rallied from a two-run deficit with three late homers for an 8-3 victory over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in Game One of their New York-Penn League best-of-three semifinal series Saturday night at historic Centennial Field.
Trailing 3-1 in the seventh the Lake Monsters loaded the bases on a leadoff error and a pair of one-out walks before the Scrappers brought in reliever Jean Carlos Mejia, who had allowed no runs and just six hits over 22 2/3 innings for Mahoning Valley during the regular season. But Farrar drilled the first pitch from Mejia 389-feet over the Vermont bullpen in right for the grand slam homer to give the Lake Monsters the lead.
Greg Deichmann followed with a solo homer to rightcenter off Mejia for back-to back homers and a 6-3 lead. Vermont reliever Heath Donica, who had struckout the final Scrapper with the bases loaded in the seventh, struckout the side in the top of the eighth before Javier Godard increased the Lake Monsters lead to 8-3 in bottom of eighth with a two-run homer to left.
It marked the second time this season that the Lake Monsters hit three home runs in one game (August 23rd at Lowell) and the first time since September 2, 2012 that Vermont hit three homers in a game at Centennial Field.
Earlier Vermont had jumped out on top 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning as Will Toffey led off with a walk, advanced to third on a Ryan Gridley single and scored on a Greg Deichmann one-out sacrifice fly.
Mahoning Valley took the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning. After the Scrappers put together three straight one-out singles to load the bases, Ernie Clement chopped an 0-2 pitch up the third base line that scored Simeon Lucas from third and Gianpaul Gonzalez also scored when the throw to the plate from pitcher Parker Dunshee went to the backstop.
Dunshee, who did not allow a single run over 38 1/3 innings in 12 appearances during the regular-season, was charged with the two runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in two innings. Brian Howard relieved Dunshee to start the third and gave up a two-out solo homer to Lucas, giving the Scrappers a 3-1 lead.
The Lucas homer would be only run off the Vermont bullpen over the final seven innings as four pitchers combined to allow four hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts. Howard gave up the one run on two hits with a walk and five strikeouts over four innings, while Logan Salow a hit and a walk before two strikeouts in his 2/3 of an inning before Donica struckout four of the five batters he faced. Josh Reagan tossed a scoreless inning with just a two-out single.
Aaron Arruda went 2-for-3 with a run and Will Tofffey 1-for-2 with three walks and two runs for Vermont, which improved to 4-0 all-time in NYPL semifinal games played at Centennial Field (one home win in 1995, 1996 and 2011 semifinals).
Lucas and Clement both had three hits for Mahoning Valley, while Scrappers starter Sam Hentges gave up one run on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts over four innings. Felix Tati (0-1) ws charged with three runs in the seventh to take the loss.
The series now switches to Mahoning Valley for Game Two on Monday and, if necessary, Game Three on Tuesday at 7:05 pm. Jesus Luzardo (1-0, 2.00 ERA) is scheduled to start for Vermont inMonday’s second game against Scrappers starter Gregori Vasquez (5-3, 2.38).