READING, PA- As the rain fell, so did the Reading Phillies. New Hampshire left fielder Danny Perales slugged a 2-run go ahead homerun in the 9th inning, to end the R-Phils' season and clinch a spot in the Eastern League Championship Series for the Double-A Toronto affiliate.
The Fisher Cats, the Eastern division champions, won the series 3 games to 1, over the wild card entrant Phillies, and will move on to face Richmond (Giants affiliate), in the title series. Richmond swept Harrisburg in the opening round.
The R-Phils got the scoring started in the 2nd inning, when catcher Tuffy Gosewisch hammered an offering from NH starter Joel Pino deep to left-center for a solo homerun, to give his club a 1-0 lead.
As Reading right-hander Tyson Brummett cruised, keeping the bases clear in the early going, the score stayed the same. It was with 2 outs in the 4th inning that the Fisher Cats' lineup finally got to Brummett, as Moises Sierra notched the first hit for NH. Eastern League MVP Travis d'Arnaud then drew a walk. First baseman Mike McDade got the Cats on the board when he laced a run scoring single. That was followed by a Kevin Howard double which added another run, to give NH a 2-1 lead.
Reading pulled even in the 7th inning on an RBI double by left fielder Mike Spidale that plated Tim Kennelly.
The game began with some sun peeking through overhead, but following the brief appearance of a rainbow, precipitation began to fall at a steady pace and kept coming down throughout the later innings.
However, it was the big fly by the University of Southern California product, Perales, off of one of Reading's most reliable pitchers, righty Mike Cisco, that proved to be the pivotal hit.
"It was unbelievable," said Fisher Cats manager, and former Phillie, Sal Fasano. "I couldn't have scripted it any better. When you get the opportunity to win on a homerun, when it was raining and there was lightning, that was pretty special for Danny."
Perales, who also drove in the lone run of New Hampshire's game 3 victory on Saturday, proclaimed that the Fisher Cats have been able to ride a high of success into the EL finals.
"Any time you're winning, it's more fun," Perales stated. "And going into (the postseason), we knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, but we're just out here to have fun and let our abilities take over and just go from there and the results have been great."
The championship series begins Tuesday evening in Manchester, where the teams will play two games, then move to Richmond for the remainder of the series. New Hampshire will chase its third ever Eastern League championship.
Fasano is proud of his team, no matter what happens in the coming days.
"I'm just happy for these kids. It's a good experience for them. They'll never forget it."
R-Phils All-Star first baseman/DH Matt Rizzotti finished the divisional series 0-for-13.
New Hampshire players Anthony Gose and Travis d'Arnaud are looking to win their second pro championship as teammates. The duo led the offense on the Phillies Class A Lakewood club that won the South Atlantic League title in 2009.
Reading manager Mark Parent confirmed a list of players that will represent the Phillies in the Arizona Fall League. OF Tyson Gillies, LHP Jake Diekman, 3B/1B/DH Cody Overbeck, RHP Tyler Cloyd and RHP BJ Rosenberg. Each big league team sends six minor league players to participate in the AFL. Parent, who was a hitting coach in the AFL in 2010, will not return to the league this year.
Word at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday evening was that if Harrisburg had advanced to the championship round, that their home games would have been played in Reading. The move would have been necessary due to flooding at the Senators' home park.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., team employee assistance professional Dickie Noles and assistant director of minor league operations Steve Noworyta were all in attendance for game 4 in Reading on Sunday...as were pitchers Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus, who are currently members of the International League championship series bound Lehigh Valley IronPigs, but pitched for Reading earlier this season.
Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus, rehabbing his injured right wrist with the Fisher Cats, went 0-for-7 in two games over the weekend in Reading. Rasmus stated after Sunday's contest that he is remaining with the Fisher Cats until further notice.
You can follow PhoulBallz on Twitter by clicking HERE.
You can also connect with PhoulBallz on Facebook by clicking HERE