LOWELL, Mass. — The Lowell Spinners showed a lot of character all season long. Despite being eliminated from New York-Penn League playoff contention on Friday, manager Joe Oliver didn’t expect anything else during the ninth inning of Monday’s season finale at LeLacheur Park.
Center fielder Trent Kemp crushed his first professional home run with the Spinners down by three runs with one out in the ninth, but it was ultimately not enough in a 9-7 loss to the Vermont Lake Monsters.
“That’s been the character of this club going down to the last out of the season,” Oliver said. “This team scrapped and clawed all year long and I didn’t expect a three-up, three-down ninth inning. This club picks each other up and tries to go up, battle and keep scoring runs.”
The Spinners, which entered the game 9-2 against its Stedler Division rival for the year, dropped below .500 for just the second time this season and end 2015 with a 37-39 record.
The Spinners jumped out to a 2-0 lead just two batters into the first inning. After shortstop Jeremy Rivera opened the game with a single, second baseman Chad De La Guerra quickly laced his third triple of the season high off the right field wall.
“We came out swinging the bat and it was nice to see some guys reach some milestones with some hits, driving in some runs and getting their averages up some points,” Oliver said. “We were just one play away from winning that game.”
Neither side cracked the scoreboard over the next two innings before the Lake Monsters cut their deficit in half in the fourth inning. With one out, left fielder Seth Brown doubled, advanced to third base on a throw in the infield and scored on right fielder Brett Siddall’s infield single.
Two runs on three hits in the fifth inning doubled the Spinners’ scoring output to four as center fielder Tate Matheny lined a one-out double. After he was replaced, pinch runner Trent Kemp scored on an RBI single by shortstop Carlos Tovar to extend the lead to 4-1.
Spinners starter Dioscar Romero struck out five batters over his five innings of work, but was taken out of line for the win as Vermont scored four times in the seventh.
“It was nice for Romero to come out in his last outing and throw the way he did,” Oliver said. “Coming off of Tommy John, you can start to see the arm coming back and his pitches coming back. He’s going to have a nice offseason to get stronger and be able to start 2016 with some confidence.”
After striking out two of the first three batters in the frame, Glorius allowed a one-out double to catcher Tom Gavitt and scored as shortstop Trace Loehr laced a three-run double inside the left field line. Loehr tied the game and quickly scored as Brown tripled to deep center.
The Lake Monsters sent eight men to the plate in the ninth and put the game out of reach as Siddall crushed a grand slam just over the right field wall.
“That was a big three-run homer for Kemp, not so much for us but definitely for him and helping his psyche,” Oliver said. “He’s a young player coming up and got his feet wet here. He plays a good, solid outfield but just has to figure some things out swinging the bat right now, but it was nice to get him some exposure.”
Hill finished the season, and a four-game hitting streak, with a 3-for-4 performance on the afternoon while left fielder Tyler Spoon had a pair of hits.
James Naile retired the final two Spinners he faced for his sixth save of the season. The win clinched the series for the Lake Monsters, which finished the season with a 33-43 record for the third consecutive year.