BILOXI – Shuckers shortstop Orlando Arcia is looking more like a big leaguer every day.
The 21-year-old hit his third homer in as many games and knocked in three runs as the Shuckers took game one of the Southern League Championship Series, 7-2, Wednesday night.
“This is impressive, watching him doing what he's doing,” Shuckers outfielder Brett Phillips said. “He's helping this team a lot. We're all putting it together and winning as a team. It's been fun.”
Arcia, who is ranked the No. 8 prospect in the minors by Baseball America, has three homers and nine RBIs in four postseason games. He was 2-of-3 with a run scored Wednesday.
Chattanooga manager Doug Mientkiewicz and his pitching staff will have to figure out a new approach to stop Arcia going into game two.
“In my book, he's better than half of the shortstops in the major leagues right now,” Mientkiewicz said. “We'll do the best you can. We'll try to use his aggression against him, come up with some new plan and try to go with something else tomorrow.”
The Southern League's Most Outstanding Pitcher, Jorge Lopez, put in another stellar outing on the mound for Biloxi before a crowd of 2,386. He gave up one run on four hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking one to pick up his second postseason victory.
In 13 2/3 postseason innings, Lopez allowed one run on just six hits and also appears ready for a promotion to Milwaukee.
“Jorge has become a pitcher,” Biloxi manager Carlo Subero said. “He knows what pitches are working for him that night. He'll go work with that. He's been great.”
Game two of the series is set for 7:10 p.m. Thursday at MGM Park with right-hander Adrian Houser scheduled to get the start for the Shuckers with left-handed pitcher Jason Wheeler starting for Chattanooga.
"To the fans that have come out and support us all year long, tomorrow is last game they'll see this season," Phillips said. "We expect all you guys to be out there cheering us on. We appreciate it."
Arcia's two-run blast in the third inning was part of a three-run rally that erased a 1-0 lead for Chattanooga.
Biloxi catcher Adam Weisenburger was hit by a pitch from D.J. Baxendale to lead off bottom of the third to put one on. Yadiel Rivera followed with a line drive to the right-center gap to score Weisenburger and tie the game at 1-1.
In the next at-bat, Arcia ripped a 1-0 pitch well over the left field wall to hand the Shuckers the 3-1 lead.
Subero credited the outburst at the plate to a change in approach.
“I think (Baxendale) had a little pattern of busting in,” Subero said. “We hadn't seen him in a while. He just kept going in, stayed in and I think we were able to make an adjustment on that.”
Phillips, who was acquired late in the season from the Astros, hit his first home run as a Shucker with a two-out drive over the right field wall to push the Biloxi lead to 4-1 after four innings.
“It felt great,” Phillips said of his homer. “It was great team win tonight.'
Nick Shaw led off the bottom of the fifth with a double and Arcia punched a single up the middle two batters later to make it 5-1.
Rivera put the game out of reach for Chattanooga in the bottom of the sixth with a double that rolled to the wall in left center and brought home a pair of runs, making it 7-1.
Rivera finished 2-of-5 with three RBIs.
“It's good to see Rivera come through,” Subero said. “He can't be overlooked with the double and a triple.”
Lopez had to work through a couple of early rough moments, helping the Lookouts gain a 1-0 lead in the top of the third after walking the leadoff man, Ole Miss product Stuart Turner. Steve Wickens and Jorge Polanco pushed Turner across with back-to-back one-out singles.
Lopez avoided further damage by striking out Southern League MVP Max Kepler and getting Travis Harrison to ground out to end the inning.
Chattanooga was held to five hits in the game and first baseman D.J. Hicks struck out four times.
Chattanooga starting pitcher D.J. Baxendale lasted five innings, giving up five runs on six hits to take the loss. He struck out four and walked one.