Dylan Brammer turned in a three hit complete-game shutout and struck out 14 on the way to a Rascals 6-0 win in game two of the Frontier League Playoff Opening Round Wednesday night against the Southern Illinois Miners at CarShield Field.
The Rascals win puts them up 2-0 in the series and need just one more win to advance to the Frontier League Championship Series for the third consecutive year.
Brammer’s career outing was his first professional nine inning shutout and his 14 strikeouts were the most out of any Rascal this season.
The dominance began right away for Brammer as he retired the side in order the first trip through the lineup and had two strikeouts in each of the first three frames.
“I have been confident in my ability all year and have eight guys behind me that I really trust. With that, I just fill up the strike zone and luckily tonight I was able to locate my fastball which helped lead to the strikeouts,” Brammer said.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Rascals gave him the lead against the Miners right-hander Corey Sessions.
Kyle Gaedele led off the inning with a walk and Jason Merjano launched a two-run home run to put the Rascals on top 2-0.
“I just feel like it got things going and made us get a little jump in our play but with or without it we are taking great at-bats and want to get to the championship as a team,” Merjano said.
The Rascals offense had just one hit through the next two innings and then got two on with no outs to begin the bottom of the fifth and chased Sessions out of the game. Miners Manager Mike Pinto went to right-hander Kyle Tinius and Alexi Colon beat him with a single to load the bases.
One batter later, Johnny Morales rolled into a 5-2-3 double play ball that put Tinius one out away from getting out of the jam but third year catcher Josh Ludy extended the inning and the lead with a RBI single to put the Rascals on top 3-0.
The three run lead was more than enough for Brammer who retired the side in order seven of his nine innings. In between the three hits allowed, the first year Rascal had a stretch of ten in a row retired and 13 in a row retired. Brammer also allowed just one runner to reach scoring position, a double from Alex De Leon and he was left stranded on diving catch towards the left field foul line by Johnny Morales.
“I think that catch was the turning point in the game, it was still a close game at the time and the momentum could have shifted their way. When he made that catch that really gave us a chance to come out and score more,” Manager Steve Brook said.
Brammer’s offense added the insurance runs in the seventh inning and it began with the Rascals loading the bases against Miners reliever Evan Mott. Mott recorded a strikeout for out number two in the inning and then designated hitter Mike Jurgella struck another blow to the Miners by sending a full count pitch off the right field wall to clear the bases and extend the Rascals lead to six.
Jurgella’s three RBI single was the final hit of the night for the Rascals and they finished with the six runs on eleven hits.
Out of the eleven hits, Josh Ludy led the way three, Jurgella had a pair and six other players tallied one.
The final highlight of the night came in the top of the ninth inning when Robby Enslen robbed a home run from Shane Kennedy for the final out of the contest.
Taking his first win of the postseason, Brammer’s final line was no runs on three hits, no walks and 14 strikeouts in nine innings.
“I felt pretty sore in the seventh but I just kept fighting through it and wanted to help secure the win for the guys. Robby made a great play in right to save two runs. The defense is the reason that we are still here and hopefully we can win game three and keep going,” Brammer said.
Game three is Friday night in Marion, Illinois, as the Miners host the Rascals for games three, four and five if necessary.
First pitch on Friday night is scheduled for 7:05 at Rent One Park.