Four of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ seven farm teams have advanced to the minor-league playoffs, which began on Wednesday.
The Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, Double-A Altoona Curve, and High-A West Virginia Power got playoff action underway last night as the Low-A West Virginia Black Bears were rained out, and instead will start their road to the championship tonight against the Williamsport Crosscutters.
Here’s a look at the current playoff matchups for the aforementioned farm teams:
Indianapolis Indians – International League West Division Champions
The last time the Indians won a home playoff game, the boy band phase was taking over the nation and many of the players on the team’s roster were still in grade school. Fast forward 15 years to last night, where Indianapolis once again faced the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and won this time, by a score of 7-3.
Paced by six-run first inning, the Indians took the lead and never looked back in game one against the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, as starting pitcher Wilfredo Boscan went seven strong innings, giving up an unearned run, seven hits, two walks and striking out four along the way.
Third ranked prospect in the Pirates system, first baseman Josh Bell, helped lead Indianapolis’ offense getting 2 hits and scoring a run along the way.
Game 2 of the five game series against the Yankees will take place tonight at Victory Field in Indianapolis at 7:05 pm.
Altoona Curve – Eastern League Western Division Wild Card team
Hosting a home playoff game for the first time since the Eastern League Championship series in 2010, the Curve looked to give the hometown fans a reintroduction to postseason baseball at People’s Natural Gas Field against the Bowie Baysox, the Dobule-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
A pitching staff that led the Eastern League with 16 shutouts would not get its 17th on a rainy night in Altoona. A rain delay pushed the first pitch of Game 1 of the five-game series back to a little after 8:30 and the Curve’s shutout hopes quicl;y deteriorated.
Capitalizing on three second-inning errors, the Baysox jumped out to a seven-run lead. The Altoona bullpen, forced in to action after one and two-thirds innings of work by starting pitcher Chad Guhl, kept the Curve in the game the rest of the way.
Center fielder Barrett Barnes put on a clinic at the plate, helping Altoona claw back and continue fighting. Scoring on a Stetson Allie single, Barnes got the Curve on the board in the 4th inning.
Stepping up to the plate with the bases loaded full of Curve baserunners in the fifth, Barnes blasted a grand slam to get Altoona within two runs of Bowie.
After the Curve bullpen held the Baysox scoreless for seven and a third innings, Pirates’ second ranked prospect, Austin Meadows, stepped to the plate down by two with a runner on and hit a two run bomb to tie the game.
Barnes, who went three for four at the plate, would later score on Jacob Stallings’ walk-off single to give Altoona a Game 1 win in the best-of-five series against Bowie.
The Curve look to take Game 2 tonight with first pitch coming at 6:05pm at PNG Field in Altoona.
West Virginia Power – South Atlantic League Second-Half Champions
The Power got off on the right foot in its best-of-three series with the Hickory Crawdads, winning game one 4-2.
Batting around the order in the fifth inning, Taylor Gushue hit a two run homer to power the Power offense and tie the game at two runs a piece. A wild pitch on a strikeout allowed Pirates’ first round draft pick, Kevin Newman to score the go-ahead run.
Starting pitcher Austin Coley went six strong innings allowing two runs on seven hits, striking out three. West Virginia’s bullpen bolstered by three scoreless innings by relievers Sam Street and Nick Neumann, finished the game by retiring the last 13 hitters in a row.
The Power look to take game two over the Crawdads in Hickory Friday night at 7:05pm.
West Virginia Black Bears – New York-Penn League Wild Card
The Black Bears, rained out Thursday night, look to take the first game of their three-game series against the Williamsport Crosscutters in New York-Penn league playoff action.
The Pirates other three affiliates, the High-A Bradenton Marauders, Advanced Rookie Bristol Pirates and Rookie Gulf Coast League Pirates all missed the postseason.
Photo credit: MiLB.com/Bill Gentry