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This Week in the Minors: All three playoff teams advance

Northwest Arkansas swept Arkansas to advance to the championship series; will face Sean Manaea tonight. Wilmington swept Lynchburg, but drop first two games in championship series. Idaho Falls gutted out a series win over Orem, dropped Game 1 to Missoula.

Jack Lopez hit a key home run for Wilmington in game 2 against Lynchburg.
Jack Lopez hit a key home run for Wilmington in game 2 against Lynchburg.
Jen Nevius

This is our weekly look at notable performances from all over the system, from big-name prospects and less heralded guys alike.

It's the postseason already in the Minors, and the Royals have three teams vying for bus league glory.

AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals

schedule | roster

The Naturals swept their in-state foes, the Arkansas Travelers (Angels) to advance to the Texas League championship series.

Game 1: Catcher Parker Morin drove in Bubba Starling for a walkoff win. It was Morin's third hit of the night, and second run driven in. The other two runs came via a Raul Mondesi home run in the 8th inning.

Starting pitcher Jonathan Dziedzic struck out eight in 5.2 innings, walked three, and allowed two runs. Daniel Stumpf and Mark Petersen both chipped in scoreless relief innings.

Game 2: The Naturals went into the sixth inning trailing 3-0, but rode a big inning for a 5-3 win. Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio doesn't walk a ton (42 in 125 regular season games), but he drew a bases-loaded walk for the home team's first run. Lane Adams followed with a two-run single to tie the game at three, and Hunter Dozier also hit a two-run single.

Luke Farrell started for Northwest Arkansas, and held the Travs to one run over five innings. He struck out four. After Sam Selman gave up two runs, the team got scoreless innings out of Peterson, Matt Murray, and Benino Pruneda.

Game 3: Lane Adams stole home to give the Naturals a 4-3 lead. It was not a straight steal, but a double steal that worked when a weak throw failed to nab Bubba Starling stealing second.

Morin and Mondesi both tripled in the game.

Brooks Pounders picked up the 'W' with 5.1 innings, though he did give up all three Travelers runs. The relievers continued their success, with scoreless work from Stumpf, Aroni Nina, and Malcom Culver.

Starling Instagrammed some of the postgame celebration:

A photo posted by Bubba Starling (@bubbastar10) on

So did Mondesi:

#CnDiosAmen para la final. Dios todo esta en tus manos Amen

A photo posted by Adalberto Mondesi (La Pingota) (@adalbertomondesi01) on

In an odd twist of fate, the starting pitcher they will face in Game One tonight is freshly-traded Sean Manaea. He's now pitching for the Midland RockHounds, Double-A affiliate of Oakland.

A-Adv. Wilmington Blue Rocks

schedule | roster

The single-A postseason moves faster than the versions in the upper minors, so the Blue Rocks have already begun their second round of play after winning the first two of a best-of-three series against Lynchburg (Indians).

Game 1: Wilmington had both offense and defense working for them in a 6-1 win. Right-hander Alec Mills pitched six shutout innings, with six strikeouts and three walks.

Leadoff man Carlos Garcia had four hits and scored twice. Ryan O'Hearn doubled twice and drove in one.

Game 2: The original start date was washed out by rain Thursday, and played Friday instead. This was a much closer game, with Wilmington eking out a 4-3 win to advance to the championship series against Myrtle Beach (White Sox).

Garcia added two more hits, bringing his postseason batting average to .750. Resetting stats for the postseason is often a frustrating practice, but seeing a guy hitting .750 has a fun sort of charm.

The game was tied at two going into the bottom of the 8th, when shortstop Jack Lopez hit a two-run dinger to give Wilmington a 4-2 lead. Manager Brian Buchanan described it as "one of the furthest balls we've seen hit this year."

Matthew Strahm started for the Blue Rocks, giving up two runs in 5.1 innings, with six strikeouts. Ashton Goudeau followed with 2.2 scoreless innings, achieved with only 28 pitches.

Lynchburg made noise in the ninth. Estarlin Cordero had given up a single, struck out two batters and walked one, before giving up a run with two men still on base and the margin down to just one run. Cordero recovered and struck out third baseman Paul Hendrix to close out the game.

The celebration, as posted by catcher Cameron Gallagher:

Celebration after goin to the ship!

A photo posted by Cameron Gallagher (@camgally3545) on

Championship series Game 1: Wilmington dropped this one in 10 innings on Sunday. The Blue Rocks elected not to pitch to the rehabbing Jorge Soler, intentionally walking him to load the bases for Myrtle Beach. The next batter singled in the winning run.

O'Hearn hit a home run for Wilmington, but not much else happened with the Blue Crew's bats.

Championship series Game 2: Myrtle Beach shut out Wilmington last night, 2-0. Wilmington loaded the bases in the 6th with one out, but left them loaded in their best scoring opportunity of the night.

Game 3 is tomorrow night.

Rookie Idaho Falls Chukars

The Orem Owlz (Angels) must be awfully sick of Idaho Falls by now. The teams ended their regular seasons last week with a six-game series against each other, then faced each other in a best-of-three series, which the Chukars won.

Game 1: Derek Gordon went deep for the Chukars, pitching seven innings with five strikeouts and a walk. The Owlz (ugh, that 'z') scored once on him. Josh Staumont finished things off with two shutout innings to seal the Chukars' 6-2 win.

Right fielder Amalani Fukofuka tripled and drove in three runs.  Shortstop Marten Gasparini singled three times and scored twice.

Game 2: Orem scored twice in the bottom of the 9th to snatch a victory on Thursday.

Bryan Brickhouse started for the Chukars, and made it four innings with three Ks, a walk, and a run given up.

Designated hitter Brandon Dulin drove in three for IDF, including a two-run home run in the 4th.

Game 3: Idaho Falls won 4-3 in 10 innings to advance in the postseason. Catcher Nick Dini, drafted in the 14th round this year, drove in the game winner on a line drive up the middle.

First baseman Joshua Banuelos doubled and homered on his way to a 3-hit day. With the win, the Chukars moved on to play Missoula in a three-gamer that started on Sunday.

That game was a mess, which Missoula won 17-9. Despite the high run total, the teams combined to strike out 25 times, and only three Idaho Falls hits went for extra bases. The same can't be said for Missoula, whose lineup mashed four home runs.

Game 2 of that series is tonight, with Game 3 tomorrow if necessary.