MOOSIC, Pa. - Making your Class AAA debut in the Governors' Cup playoffs isn't an easy way to break in and a 69-minute rain delay couldn't have helped calm Zach McAllister's nerves.
Once he got to the mound, though, the 21-year-old New York Yankees prospect wasn't a victim of his lack of experience Saturday night.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was up 7-0 over Gwinnett in Game 4 of their semifinal series by the time McAllister gave up his first run and the defending champions headed back to the International League's title series with a 12-3 victory over the G-Braves, ending their season.
McAllister blanked Gwinnett over the first four innings and lasted through one out in the sixth. One of the runners left on base scored and he was charged with three runs in 51/3 innings.
That was a much better outing than Johnny Venters could give Gwinnett.
Last year, Venters didn't make his Class AA debut until the Southern League playoffs and ended up starting the deciding game in the championship series for Mississippi. But he couldn't match McAllister on Saturday night despite a half season of AAA experience.
The left-hander didn't make it through what turned out to be a five-run Scranton fourth inning. He left with the bases loaded and no outs, and reliever Jon Huber couldn't prevent any of the runners from scoring.
Venters, who was 4-7 during the regular season, gave up five runs in three-plus innings. The 24-year-old allowed eights hits, walked two and threw a wild pitch.
That certainly wasn't what the G-Braves were hoping for in an elimination game. The Yankees, meanwhile, got a very respectable outing from their stop-gap starter.
McAllister allowed eight hits, but half of them came after Scranton was well ahead. The right-hander struck out three, walked one and hit two batters.
Its rotation depleted by call-ups and an injury, Scranton had no choice except to call on the recently promoted native in Illinois in Game 4.
Yankees manager Dave Miley admitted he wasn't all that familiar with McAllister.
"I've never seen him pitch," Miley had said on Friday. "But his numbers are good and he wouldn't be here if he wasn't capable of doing it."
McAllister - ranked as New York's No. 6 prospect by Baseball America - was a starter in the Class AA Eastern League all-star game and finished 7-5 with a 2.23 ERA for Trenton. He had 96 strikeouts to 33 walks in 121 innings and opponents batted only .220.
The success in Class AA wasn't unexpected. He was 14-9 at two Class A stops in 2008 and had a 2.09 ERA with 115 strikeouts to 21 walks in 151 innings.