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Rough start: Quebec blanks Wild Things in Game 1

If Game 1 of the Frontier League playoffs is indicative of what is to come, this may well be another cruel September for the Wild Things.

Starter Jared Mortensen and two relievers combined on a two-hit shutout and Equipe Quebec defeated the Wild Things 9-0 in Game 1 of the best-of-5 Can-Am Conference finals Tuesday night.

Game 2 is today (1:05 p.m.) with Ryan Hennen (11-3), the Frontier League Pitcher of the Year, scheduled to start for Washington against Quebec’s Codie Paiva (7-5). The series shifts to Canada on Friday.

Quebec, which had to win Sunday’s regular-season finale at Sussex County to gain the Atlantic Division title and qualify for the postseason, got the jump on Washington by scoring six times in the first four innings against Washington starter Rob Whalen.

The game resembled many of the Wild Things’ playoff games of the past. Timely hits against crafty pitchers were nearly impossible to produce.

Washington’s only hits came in the third inning, a broken-bat single by first baseman Andrew Czech and a two-out single through the left side of the infield by second baseman Scotty Dubrule. The Wild Things loaded the bases with two outs that inning but Bralin Jackson’s groundout ended the only Washington threat.

Mortensen, a 33-year-old righthander, and Marshall Shill combined to retire 16 consecutive Washington hitters after the Dubrule single. The streak was broken when Andrew Sohn drew a leadoff walk off reliever Nick Horvath to begin the ninth inning.

Mortensen threw seven shutout innings, walking two and striking out eight.

The first former major leaguer to play for the Wild Things, Whalen struggled with his control from the outset. He walked two of the first four Quebec batters but worked out of a bases-loaded one-out jam in the first inning, when he threw 31 pitches. Whalen wasn’t as fortunate in the second inning, and an error played a part in that.

Whalen walked former Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Gift Ngoepe to start the inning and Jonathan Lacroix followed a ground ball to shortstop Nick Ward, whose throw to second base was wide and rolled all the way into the Wild Things’ bullpen down the right-field line as Ngoepe ended up on third base. Jesse Hodges, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, then slapped an 0-2 pitch for a two-run double inside the third-base bag to open the scoring.

The lead went to 3-0 in the third when Connor Panas hit a high chopper back to Whalen, whose only play was to first base as Raphael Gladu raced home from third base.

If the first three innings didn’t have the Wild Things thinking this wouldn’t be their night, then the fourth did. Consecutive singles by Lacroix and Jesse Hodges to start the inning set up a run-scoring fielder’s choice by L.P. Pelletier, and David Glaude followed with a two-run homer to right centerfield that put Quebec up 6-0.

Whalen lasted only four innings, giving up seven hits and six runs (five earned), walking two and striking out three.

Quebec scored two runs in the seventh on an infield single and ensuing throwing error. Designated hitter Jeffry Parra belted a two-out solo home run on an 0-2 pitch from reliever Dan Kubiuk in the eighth to end the scoring.

Game 2 time change

With rain in the forecast for today, and with Thursday scheduled to be a travel day – the teams will go almost 800 miles to Quebec City for the final three games of the series – the start time of Game 2 today has been moved up to 1:05 p.m.

“It was a collective decision, the league and ourselves,” Wild Things president and general manager Tony Buccilli. “After reviewing the (weather) forecast, and with the extended travel to Quebec, we didn’t want to get into a situation where we were here until 3 or 4 in the morning and then traveling to Quebec. This gives us some flexibility to find a window.”

Notes

Washington is 7-6 all-time in the first game of a playoff series. That does not include a win over Evansville in a wild-card game in 2014. … Though it had a better regular-season record than Quebec, Washington forfeited home-field advantage for the playoff series because of a conflict with concerts that are scheduled at Wild Things Park on Friday and Saturday. Quebec will host Games 3, 4 and 5 instead of the first two. … Washington is 33-19 at home this year but only 6-7 against Quebec.


Sports
AP
Miley struggles, Reds' skid continues with 6-5 loss to Bucs

PITTSBURGH – Wade Miley surrendered six runs on 10 hits and the Cincinnati Reds lost for the sixth time in eight games, 6-5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Miley (12-6) gave up three runs in the first and three more in the fifth before being pulled with one out. The six runs (five earned) allowed were Miley’s most since the Rockies scored eight off of him May 14.

The Reds entered the day half a game ahead of the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card in the National League.

Pirates starter Dillon Peters (1-2) went five shutout innings, surrendering five hits with five strikeouts to help Pittsburgh to its fifth win in seven games following a six-game losing streak. He was 0-3 in six major league starts since last winning with the Angels on Sept. 24, 2019.

Nick Castellanos took Chris Stratton deep on the first pitch he saw for his 29th homer, making it 6-5 with two outs in the ninth. Stratton then struck out Joey Votto looking for his fifth save.

Following a mound visit with runners on first and second in the fifth, Miley allowed Yoshi Tsutsugo to single to left, driving in Kevin Newman, before Reynolds scored on an errant throw to third from left fielder Aristides Aquino that gave the Pirates a 5-0 lead. Jacob Stallings tacked on a sixth run with an RBI single.

Miley was pulled following a groundout from Anthony Alford. He has allowed at least 10 hits in two of his past three starts, giving up 12 to the Cardinals on Sept. 1.

The Reds scored four off reliever Nick Mears in the sixth.

A bases-loaded single from Tucker Barnhart drove in two before Max Schrock scored on a fielder’s choice. Right fielder Ben Gamel then couldn’t make a diving catch to deny Kyle Farmer of a two-out RBI single, cutting the deficit to 6-4.

Three singles to right off Miley put the Pirates up 3-0 in the first.

Tsutsugo drove in Ke’Bryan Hayes before Stallings followed with another RBI single, scoring Bryan Reynolds. Cincinnati had a chance to get out of the inning when Alford sent a soft dribbler to third, but Eugenio Suárez fumbled it for an error. Gamel followed with a two-out RBI single.

Trainer’s room

Pirates: RHP David Bednar was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Sept. 11 with a right oblique strain. He is 3-1 with a 2.18 ERA in 58 appearances this season.

Up next

RHP Vladimir Gutiérrez (9-6, 4.05) will take the mound for the Reds opposite Pirates RHP Mitch Keller (4-11, 6.29) on Wednesday. Gutiérrez, who is 0-2 in three starts since last winning Aug. 22, allowed one run on two hits in five innings his last time out Sept. 8. Keller hasn’t surrendered a run in two of his past four starts (2-2) after losing his previous four.


Sports
AP
Bucs, Chiefs start season in top 2 spots in AP Pro32 poll

NEW YORK – When it comes to winning, Tom Brady is accustomed to leading the NFL.

After one week of the regular season, Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a familiar spot: on top of the first AP Pro32 poll of 2021.

The defending Super Bowl champs received nine of the 12 first-place votes for 381 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who were routed by the Bucs in the Super Bowl, earned the remaining three first-place votes for 374 points.

Both the Bucs and Chiefs started defense of their respective conference titles with hard-fought victories. The Buccaneers opened the season with a 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys and the Chiefs rallied in the second half to beat the Cleveland Browns 33-29.

“The Bucs and the Chiefs still look like they are the class of their conferences after one week,” said Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk.

“There were some surprises in Week 1, though, which makes this first poll tough. Are the Packers really that bad? Are the Cardinals that good? Are the Raiders contenders to the Chiefs?”

The Browns start at No. 8 in the poll, the highest spot for any team that opened with a loss.

The Seattle Seahawks are at No. 3 after an impressive win at Indianapolis and will host another AFC South foe as they face Tennessee in their home opener.

The New Orleans Saints, who pulled off one of the bigger surprises in Week 1 with a 38-3 win over the Green Bay Packers, are at No. 4.

“The surprise of the week,” said Sirius XM’s Alex Marvez. “(Quarterback) Jameis Winston and (coach) Sean Payton deserve the credit but don’t forget about assistant GM and college scouting director Jeff Ireland, who helped unearth college free-agent standouts that have become key contributors like tight end Juwan Johnson (two touchdown catches).”

The Los Angeles Rams, another possible Super Bowl contender in the NFC, begin tied at No. 5 after routing the Chicago Bears 34-14.

“(Rams quarterback) Matthew Stafford is living the dream,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said.

“After spending years in NFL purgatory with the Lions, he looked every bit as good as the Rams expected in an opening-night win over the Bears.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers surged past the Buffalo Bills and are tied with the Rams at No. 5. The Bills, the defending AFC East champs, start off at No. 9.

The Arizona Cardinals, who earned a dominating victory over the Titans, are at No. 7.

“Chandler Jones and Kyler Murray were super, but can they maintain it over a 17-game season?” asked Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki.

Jones had five sacks and Murray had four touchdown passes and one rushing TD in a 38-13 rout.

The San Francisco 49ers were the fourth team from the NFC West in the top 10 in the poll.


Sports
AP
Lots of QB shuffling early in season, led by Big 12

The most experienced quarterbacks in the Big 12 have already been sidelined this season for very different reasons.

Skylar Thompson was off to good start in his sixth year in Kansas State’s program before a knee injury that will keep him out indefinitely. Fourth-year Iowa State starter Brock Purdy was benched in the fourth quarter of the biggest home game in program history, though coach Matt Campbell has since reiterated his “great trust” in the quarterback.

First-year Texas coach Steve Sarkisian is already shuffling starters, replacing inconsistent redshirt freshman Hudson Card with junior Casey Thompson.

All of that is through only two games this season and the unexpected changes at the game’s most important position stretch beyond the Big 12.

When starting quarterback JT Daniels was out for second-ranked Georgia with an oblique injury, backup Stetson Bennett stepped in and tied a school record with five TD passes in the first half. No. 7 Texas A&M will be without redshirt freshman quarterback Haynes King indefinitely after surgery to repair his broken right leg. Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec could miss the rest of the season after hand surgery.

Thompson’s tough luck

Skylar Thompson took advantage of the extra year of eligibility given to all players because of the pandemic after missing most of last season with a right shoulder injury. He lowered his left shoulder and bulled into the end zone while running for K-State’s first TD in a season-opening win over Stanford, then led the Wildcats to a quick TD in their second game and was on the brink of another when he suddenly crumbled to the ground.

“See him go down and it’s always gonna be a shell shock because that’s a great guy and a great player for us,” said running back Deuce Vaughn, who was behind the quarterback when he got hurt rolling to the right.

Wildcats coach Chris Klieman said the injury isn’t believed to be season-ending, but called it “frustrating because it’s like it’s not fair. Why does it happen to somebody two years in a row?” Thompson’s 32 career starts are tied for the most in school history.

Will Howard has been pressed into the starting role again like he was a freshman last year. He went through all of last spring with the No. 1 offense while Thompson was still rehabbing his throwing shoulder.

Trust in Brock

Iowa State had turnovers on three consecutive drives, including two interceptions by Purdy, and were down by 17 points early in the fourth quarter of its highly anticipated home game against instate rival Iowa when Campbell put second-year freshman QB Hunter Dekkers in.

The 27-17 loss dropped the Cyclones, last season’s Big 12 runner-up, five spots to No. 14 in the new AP poll. Purdy, still without a TD pass, is anticipated to be back under center when Iowa State plays at UNLV on Saturday night.

“Brock and I have a great relationship and really he’s got great trust in who we are,” Campbell said. “Equally, we have great trust of who he is.”

Thompson in Texas

Most Texas fans assumed Casey Thompson would be the easy choice as the 2021 starter when he came off the bench to throw four TDs in eight passes in the Alamo Bowl win over Colorado last December before Sarkisian was hired. But the fourth-year player couldn’t shake off the spring and summer training camp competition with Card.

After a solid opening win over then-No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette, the Longhorns got overrun 40-21 by former SWC rival and future SEC foe Arkansas, and got knocked out of the AP poll from 15th.

“You could tell early on Hudson was a little rattled,” Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown said.

Thompson led two TD drives against Arkansas after getting in the third quarter when Texas was already far behind. His first start since still in high school in November 2017 is set for Saturday against Rice. He considered transferring from Texas after the 2018 season, but stayed and spent two seasons as Sam Ehlinger’s top backup. Thompson said he didn’t consider leaving when Card was named the starter two weeks ago.

“At this point, I’m already in this thing, I’ve waited so long,” Thompson said Tuesday. “There was no way I could just quit and let up at this point.”

All-American, former OU QBs

After throwing for 3,031 yards and 28 TDs last season, Oklahoma sophomore and preseason AP All-America quarterback Spencer Rattler is off to a solid start. He has completed 50 of 65 passes for 547 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions for the No. 3 Sooners (2-0).

Two former Sooners quarterbacks will start against each other Saturday, when Tanner Mordecai and SMU play at Louisiana Tech and Austin Kendall. They were OU teammates during the 2018 season.

“It’s awesome to see,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “It’s not surprising to me. ... No doubt in my mind those guys were starting-caliber players.”

Mordecai, a fourth-year sophomore, has thrown for 629 yards and 11 TDs in two games for SMU, only 10 yards fewer than he had combined in his 12 appearances for the Sooners the past three years. Kendall is a sixth-year senior who was at West Virginia the past two seasons after two seasons at Oklahoma.


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