Team Clings to Slim Final Chance - Sussex County Miners
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Team Clings to Slim Final Chance

sussex miners crowd

Team Clings to Slim Final Chance

 The Miners are still alive. The Frontier League’s Northeast Division pennant is still up for grabs – at least a tiny bit up for grabs – at least for today.

     Even though the team lost on the road against Tri-City last night, the Miners’ slim chance of making the playoffs remained more-or-less intact thanks to the New Jersey Jackals scoring five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning last night to beat the Washington Wild Things with a walk-off home run at Yogi Berra Stadium.

     In fact, though Washington missed its chance to clinch first place, the Wild Things did actually inch closer to that goal because of the Miners’ 6-4 loss in Troy, NY.

     With both teams losing, the Miners stayed five games behind Washington in the Northeast standings, but the Miners loss reduced Washington’s magic number to clinch down to “one.”

     One more Miners loss or one more Washington victory is now all it will take for the Wild Things to claim the division crown and move on to the postseason.

     There is no more wiggle room left. The Miners need to beat Tri-City tonight and tomorrow night, then sweep a four-game, season-ending home series against Quebec, but they also need Washington to lose two more games to the Jackals, then lose three final regular-season games at home against Tri-City.

     Last night’s loss was the seventh in a row for Sussex County, which has gone 2-8 over the past 10 games.  Juan Kelly and Audy Ciriaco had two hits apiece, but Tri-City broke a 4-4 tie with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to produce the final score.

     Playing center field and batting leadoff, Chuck Taylor had a rare hitless night, dropping his batting average to .341. He’s one of two players who’ve appeared in all 89 games so far this year. The other is shortstop Cito Culver, who’s batting .278. Ciriaco has appeared in 88 games, currently batting .294 and leading the team with 59 RBI.

     Martin Figueroa, the Miners leading hitter – and the top hitter in the league at .352– was placed on the Inured List on Monday and won’t return for the final games of the year. He hasn’t played since he left a game in the third inning on Aug. 28.

By Carl Barbati, former sports editor of the New Jersey Herald, Daily Record and The Trentonian.