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Saturday Pebble Report: The Asheville Tourists Are Champions of the South Atlantic League

Low-A Asheville – W 10-4, Game 4, (Series OVER, Ashville Wins 3-1)

The Asheville Tourists proved in small sample size what had been obvious all season long; they were the best team in the South Atlantic League (SAL). With no less than seven regulars posting an OPS over .800, the Tourists easily led the SAL in that category. Their pitching staff also posted the second lowest WHIP of any of the 14 teams in the league, and that combination added up an extremely well balanced team with a very impressive 88-52 overall record.

In Friday’s Championship clincher, the Tourists used both a solid start by Chris Jensen and yet another offensive explosion to seal the fate of the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Jensen went 5.2 innings, struck out eight, walked just one, and limited Greensboro to two runs. Support from the offense wasn’t lacking either. Tyler Massey got things started with a first inning home run and Jordan Ribera launched another solo blast in the fourth that would give Asheville a lead it would never relinquish. Ribera would later add two more hits and three RBIs while #23 PuRP Sam Mende, Jared Simon, and Brian Humphries all also had multi hit games.

After getting down 1-0 in this best of five series on Monday, Asheville really flexed its muscle, outscoring Greensboro by a combined score of 29 to 7 in the final three games. Congratulations to the Ashville Tourists on their 2012 Championship season – It was a joy to follow!!!

High-A Modesto – L 11-2, Game 2, (Series – Down 2 Games to 0)

For the third consecutive playoff series, the Modesto Nuts have been pushed to the brink of elimination before winning a game. The Lancaster JetHawks jumped all over Modesto starter Juan Gonzalez in both the third and fifth innings, as they chased him from the game with five hits, three walks, and six runs. Not all of it was Gonzalez’s fault though. Geoff Parker, who came in to replace him with two outs in the 5th, served up a three run home run to the first batter he saw. That made the score 7-0 and the Nuts were never really heard from again in this one.

Despite being shut down by Lancaster pitching for most of the game, #20 PuRP Christian Adames, Delta Cleary Jr., and Dustin Garneau all had multi hit games. However, Garneau’s 5th inning double was the only Nut hit of the night that went for extra bases.

Despite the bleak prospect of losing the first two games at home and now having to take three on the road to win the series, Modesto has something going for it; starting pitching. Jorge De La Rosa will take the mound tonight for Game 3 as he makes yet another rehab start. In his most recent outing on Monday, he went 3.2 innings, struck out five, and only allowed one run. What will be interesting to watch now is how the Nuts use Christian Bergman, their most consistent starter all season. In last Monday’s game, he was bumped to a relief roll and closed out the final five innings De La Rosa’s start. However, if De La Rosa can go deeper tonight with a lead, would the Nuts save Bergman for Game 4 as they try to bridge back to #4 PuRP Tyler Matzek in another deciding game? Either way, I don’t expect Modesto to go down quietly.

Lastly, Grand Junction’s season may be over, but it’s going to be a long time before anyone forgets what David Dahl did there this summer. He was recognized yesterday as the top player of among the four Rookie leagues — Pioneer, Arizona, Appalachian and Gulf Coast. #AwesomeJobDavid.