The Kinston Indians season came crashing to a halt with a 5-3 loss against Salem in game three of the best of three Southern Division Championship Series Friday night at Grainger Stadium. With the score tied at three in the top of the eighth inning, Salem had Mitch Einertson at second with two outs. Tim Torres hit a bouncing ball to K-Tribe third baseman Beau Mills. Mills fielded cleanly, but made a throw wide of first that got past the bag and allowed Einertson to score. The play was ruled an infield hit with a throwing error. Torres then stole second and scored on a double by Pat Osborn.
Kinston shot out to a 3-0 lead when Brian Finegan walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning, scoring Mills. Jose Constanza followed Finegan with a two RBI single, scoring Chris Gimenez and Armando Camacaro. Salem responded with three runs in the top of the third as Einertson drove in a run with a bases loaded sacrifice fly. Mark Ori tied the score with a two rbi double, scoring Wladimir Sutil and Billy Hart. The score would stay tied 3-3 thanks to two great defensive plays by Salem. In the fourth inning John Drennen was thrown out at home plate, trying to tag from third, by Salem’s Billy Hart on a shallow fly to left field. In the bottom of the sixth Kinston would be turned away again, when Beau Mills was thrown out at home trying to score from second on a shallow single by Wes Hodges. Kinston had the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh inning, but Salem reliever Chris Blazek struck out Matt Whitney to end the threat. Blazek got the win, pitching 2 1/3 innings and giving up just one hit while striking out five. Bud Norris started the game for Kinston, giving up three earned runs through 5 1/3 innings.
Sung-Wei Tseng started for the K-Tribe, giving up three earned runs in three innings. Ryan Edell pitched three strong innings from the bullpen, giving up just one hit. T.J. Burton took the tough luck loss for Kinston, giving up three hits and two earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. Scott Roehl finished up the game, giving up one hit in 1 1/3 innings.
Kinston season ends as Salem advances to the Mills Cup Championship Series for the first time since 2001. Salem will start the series Saturday in Frederick at 7pm. The playoff exit marks the first time since 2003 that Kinston will not advance to the Mills Cup Championship Series. The K-Tribe finished up the regular season with a Carolina League best 87-52 record.