Potters, Heat battle for Great West title
The Lincoln Potters opened the Great West League championship series at home against the Chico Heat Wednesday; game two (Thursday) and three (Friday, if necessary) are in Chico.
Lincoln won four of their last five regular-season games against the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox and the Chico Heat.
A three-game semifinal was scheduled to begin in Medford, but the venue was changed to Lincoln because of smoke from wildfires. The cancellation prompted a winner-take-all format.
Jakob Frederick took the mound for the Potters and the Rogues sent Tanner Simpson to the hill; his first time facing the Potters.
J.C. Santini’s three-run home run in the second inning got the Potters off to a good start.
“I am seeing the ball pretty well. It was nice to help get a couple runs on the board early and give us some momentum,” said Santini.
Will Law’s single added another two runs in the third, while Frederick pitched five scoreless innings. Frederick was relieved by Ryan Gil.
“Jakob (Frederick) gave us exactly what we needed tonight. I knew they were going to try and throw every guy they had at us, which is why we needed a good start out of the gates and he gave us exactly that.”
Lincoln manager Ryan Stevens said, “Our pitching and defense is keeping us going right now.”
The Rogues scored in the sixth, but the Potters responded with Matt Lopez and Larry Fonseca driving in a run each and JJ Santana brought home two with a double.
Medford’s Cole Carder put the Rogues on the board with a three-run home run in the seventh, but Lincoln came back with RBIs from Charles Middleton, Santini and Fonseca.
With a 12-4 lead, Potters’ closer Tyler Cochran shut down the Rogues in the ninth to seal the victory.
“Our bullpen shut it down tonight,” Frederick said. “We just need more first-pitch strikes against Chico and we’ll be looking good.”