RubberDucks 9, Curve 0

Maybe it was a lesson learned or maybe it was not wanting to force a winner-take-it-all in the Eastern League Western Division Series.

Whatever it was, the RubberDucks hit Altoona early Saturday and went on to take a 9-0 win at Peoples Natural Gas Field to win the best-of-five-series in four games.

In doing so, the Ducks advanced to the league finals where they will play Eastern Division winner New Hampshire in a best-of-five series with Games 1 and 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday at Canal Park.

“I’m happy for the guys,” RubberDucks manager Tony Mansolino said. “I firmly believe that playing meaningful games is part of a player’s development in terms of being a winning major league player and in terms of helping Cleveland wins.

“Looking at it through the eyes of somebody in player development, I think this is as good a thing as you can get for these guys. Looking at it through the manager of the team, it’s satisfying and gratifying for the staff to see the players get to this point. To have a chance to win a ring is pretty cool.”

Game 4 was a sharp contrast from Game 3 in which the Ducks scored five times in the first, but didn’t score again in an 8-5 Curve victory.

This time, the Ducks started early with a RBI groundout by Tyler Krieger and RBI single by Andrew Calica in the first and then backed it up with a big three-run third inning.

That inning included a two-run home run by Calica and a bases-loaded walk by Daniel Salters.

Sean Brady made it stand up with another solid performance. The right-hander, who was on the mound when the RubberDucks clinched a playoff spot, allowed seven hits and struck out three in seven innings.

It was Brady’s second start without giving up a run and fourth solid performance. In his last 23 innings, Brady has allowed three earned runs and struck out 15.

“He was as sharp as he’s ever been,” Mansolino said. “He’s been really good here lately. It seems like all his outings have been solid. That was a really tough lineup he faced today. Only one left-handed hitter, and he just mowed them down. It was a piece of cake to be honest with you.”

The RubberDucks return home to face the Fisher Cats, who finished second in the Eastern Division.

It’s a squad that features EL MVP and Rookie of the Year Cavan Biggio, as well as postseason all-stars Bo Bichette, Harold Ramirez and Jordan Romano.

“It just comes down to whatever team is having the most fun,” Mansolino said.

“It’s whatever team can handle the moment and handle the situation. That’s what will shine in close games.”