Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium is not a place that the IronPigs have fared well in this season, so their objective was to make their stay there as short as possible. On Saturday night, they did just that with a 3-1 win over Pawtucket to sweep their International League Semifinal Series in three games.
Things started quickly for Lehigh Valley when Rich Thompson lined the first pitch of the game through the middle for a base hit and then quickly stole second. Scott Podsednik bunted him over to third and Kevin Frandsen then grounded out to allow Thompson to score the game's first run and give the 'Pigs a quick 1-0 lead against Pawtucket starter Alex Wilson (0-1). Thompson's steal was his second of the series. In the sixth, he led off the inning with a double to center and would again come around to score on back-to-back ground balls by Podsednik and Frandsen.
Lehigh Valley used the long ball for their only other run of the game when Josh Barfield homered in the second inning to give the IronPigs a 2-0 lead at the time.
Brian Bass was the story of the night. With the 'Pigs bullpen having been used pretty much through the first two games of the series and no day off for travel, manager Ryne Sandberg was hoping for big things from his starter. Bass complied and gave the 'Pigs a complete game, allowing just one unearned run in the ninth inning. In the bottom of the ninth, Bass gave up a lead-off single to Hector Luna, which was amplified when Frandsen threw wildly to first base to allow Luna to go to second. Luna then stole third and would score on a sacrifice fly from Will Middlebrooks to make it a 3-1 game with one out in the ninth. Bass then buckled down and got Luis Exposito to ground out to short for the second out. On a 1-1 pitch - his 120th of the game - Bass got Jose Iglesias to lift a soft fly ball to Thompson in center to give the 'Pigs the series sweep.
The IronPigs will now have an off-day on Sunday before traveling to Columbus, Ohio to face the Columbus Clippers in the Governor's Cup Finals for the International League Championship. The best-of-five series will have the first two games in Columbus on Tuesday and Wednesday before the teams travel to Lehigh Valley for game three on Thursday and games four and five, if necessary, on Friday and Saturday.
At 88-56, Columbus posted the best record in the International League this season and swept Durham (80-62) in their semifinal series. Lehigh Valley took five of the eight games that the two teams played this season, splitting the four games they played in Columbus and taking three out of four games at Coca-Cola Park. Neither team has announced their starters for the series.