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Norwich - Brett Pirtie drove in five runs, including a key bases-clearing double in the eighth inning, as the Connecticut Tigers rallied to defeat the Lowell Spinners 9-8 on Monday night at Dodd Stadium to earn a berth in the New York-Penn League baseball playoffs.
The Tigers, who finish the regular season 42-34, begin a best-of-three semifinals series at home against the Tri-City ValleyCats (48-28) on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. It will be the first postseason appearance since the franchise relocated from Oneonta (N.Y.) to Norwich in 2010.
Connecticut, the Single-A short-season affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, earned a wild-card berth into the four-team playoffs with the other three spots doing to division winners Tri-City (Astros), Hudson Valley (Rays) and State College (Cardinals).
The Tigers trailed Lowell 5-3 when they tied the game in the bottom of the seventh on a wild pitch scoring Will Maddox and an RBI single to right by Joey Pankake scoring Pirtie.
They took the lead an inning later when Franklin Navarro led off the eighth by lining a solo homer to right, and Pirtie provided some much-needed insurance later in the inning with his clutch double.
That extended Connecticut's lead to 9-5 and they survived a three-run rally by Lowell (37-38) in the ninth before Joe Monge popped out to Pirtie at second to end the game with the tying run at third and go-ahead run at second.
Pirtie finished 3-for-5 with his five RBI while Pankake was 2-for-5 and leadoff hitter Maddox scored three runs.
Gage Smith (3-1), the fourth of five Connecticut pitchers, earned the win. He pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and lowered his earned run average to 1.53.
• UConn won its first game of the season with a 3-0 victory over Stony Brook. Cyle Larin and Cheikh Stephane Coly scored first-half goals for the No. 8 Huskies (1-1) and Ethan Vanacore-Decker added another goal in the second half. Goalie Jacob Wagmeister made three saves UConn, which outshot Stony Brook 14-11.
• Alexis Koval scored in the 37th minute as Syracuse rallied for a 1-1 overtime draw with UConn.
The Huskies (2-1-1) had taken a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute when freshman Danielle Gottwik scored her first career goal. The Huskies held a 19-14 edge in shots.