The Alexandria Dukes built an 11-0 lead after four innings and then survived a seven-run Lynchburg seventh inning to defeat the Mets, 11-8, and win the Carolina League Northern championship last night at Four Mile Run Park.
Alexandria, making its first postseason appearance, advanced to the league championship series and will act as host to Durham, an 8-1 winner last night over Peninsula, in the first game of a best-of-five series tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The Dukes scored a run in the first, four in the third, and six in the fourth for the 11-0 edge. Jim Winn, in his best outing of the season, had allowed just three singles through five innings.
But the Mets got a run in the sixth on a double by Fermin Ubri and a single by Lloyd McClendon. Winn tired in the seventh and after hitting a batter, walking another and going to a 3-0 count on a third, was lifted in favor of Jeff Zaske (2-0, three saves versus Lynchburg).
Zaske however, was ineffective, pitching one-third inning, allowing four runs on two hits and two walks. Wilfrido Cordoba relieved Zaske with one out and the bases loaded. He strick out Ubri, but McClendon lofted a wind-aided grand slam to right field and suddenly Lynchburg trailed, 11-8.
Cordoba saw to it that the lead didn't completely disappear, allowing only one hit after the McClendon slam.
Ken Ford's RBI single gave the Dukes a 1-0 lead in the first. Dukes Manager Johnny Lipon made two changes in the third that helped Alexandria to a 5-0 lead.
With the Dukes leading, 2-0, runners on first and second and Jeff Sunderlage, a left-handed reliever on the mound, Lipon sent right-handed batter Andy Snaith to bat for Nick Castaneda, a lefty. Snaith walked to load the bases. Right-hander Pete Rowe pitch hit for left-handed Brad Garnett and lined a single up the middle for two runs and a 4-0 edge. Burk Goldthorn's grounder scored the fifth run.
In the fourth, Rick Renteria's two-run single and a three-run double by Jim Felt were the big hits.