BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Jorge Lopez was one of the main reasons the Biloxi Shuckers were in contention to win a second-half crown along with the team's first-half title.
After a 43-25 record in the first half, the Shuckers finished the remaining 69 games just one game above the .500 mark. It could've been worse had it not been for Lopez, who was named the Milwaukee Brewers' Minor League Pitcher of the Month for June, July and August.
The Cayey, Puerto Rico, native has started 12 games since records were reset. On his way to a 7-3 record during that span, Lopez pitched 80 2/3 innings and displayed a 1.67 earned run average while notching 79 strikeouts.
"Jorge winning the last three Pitcher of the Month awards is something I haven't seen personally," Shuckers manager Carlos Subero said. "It shows you a lot on how he's been pitching. Hopefully he carries that into our first game and gives us a good lead."
Lopez, who will be the starting pitcher in the first game of a best-of-five series with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, has allowed two earned runs or less in 13 of his last 15 starts.
After giving up four runs in just three innings in Pensacola on April 12, Lopez was spectacular in the other three starts he made against the Wahoos in 2015, surrendering just two earned runs and recording 19 strikeouts in 20 innings.
"I'm just going to pitch," Lopez said. "It doesn't matter what team it is. I'm just going to pitch and compete."
The Shuckers went 14-6 against the Blue Wahoos during the regular season and didn't lose a single series to their South Division rival.
"For me, playoffs are a different thing," Subero said. "It's a team that we did play well against all year, but it all starts from zero."
The winner of the Pensacola-Biloxi series will meet the winner of the Montgomery-Chattanooga series.