09/13/05 — K-Tribe survives elimination

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K-Tribe survives elimination

Published in Sports on September 13, 2005 1:59 PM

KINSTON -- Sean Smith pitched the finest game of his K-Tribe career and a three-run fourth was more than enough to propel Kinston to a 3-0 win in game three of the Carolina League Championship Series on Monday night.

The Indians improved to 3-2 in the playoffs and lived to see game four at 7 p.m. today, while the Keys fell to 4-1 in the postseason. Frederick still leads the best-of-five series two games to one.

Kinston had chance after chance to score in the first three innings against Keys starter Adam Loewen, but stranded two runners in each frame before finally breaking through in the bottom of the fourth.

Mike Conroy gave Kinston its first lead in the series when he belted Loewen's first pitch of the inning over the wall in right for a solo home run, but the K-Tribe wasn't done. David Wallace drew a walk, and with two outs Brian Barton was hit by a pitch and Kevin Kouzmanoff worked another walk to load the bases. That brought Stephen Head to the plate, and he delivered the big blow with a two-run single to right-center field to extend the lead to 3-0.

Smith took that lead and ran with it, confounding the Keys with an assortment of fastballs, sliders and curves. Smith worked into the eighth inning in his longest outing of the year, and scattered three hits while allowing just one runner past first base. He struck out seven and did not walk a man. Smith departed with two out in the eighth after Bryan Bass had opened the inning with a double, but Tony Sipp came out of the bullpen and got Jeff Fiorentino to fly out to left to end the inning. Sipp also got a bizarre double play to end the game, as Branden Florence hit a pop-up with a runner on first and one out in the top of the ninth.

Head couldn't make the catch on the infield, but second baseman Argenis Reyes picked up the ball and tagged the base runner Nolan Reimold, who was forced off the base because the hitter has the right of way. But after Reimold had been tagged out, Florence, thinking it was in fact he who was out, walked back to the dugout, allowing Reyes to tag him and end the game.

Smith improved to 2-0 in the playoffs with the win, while Sipp's save was his first of the post-season. Loewen (0-1) lasted just four innings and gave up three runs on five hits. He struck out eight, but also walked four batters and hit three others. Keys pitching gave up nine walks on the night.

Head finished 2-for-3 with two RBI, and Conroy's home run was his second. The margin could have been much greater, but Kinston left 17 men on base, including 10 in scoring position.

The Indians aren't out of the woods yet, and must play another elimination game today at 7 p.m. in game four. Adam Miller (0-0, 1.93 ERA) will start for Kinston against Carolina League Pitcher of the Year James Johnson (1-0, 1.69 ERA) for Frederick.