For the first time in 22 years the Sky Sox picked up a postseason win, and they did it in historic fashion! Colorado Springs used three pitchers that combined for a two-hit shutout and the bats provided the support in the 5-0 win over Memphis in game two of the series. The best-of-five set comes home to the Front Range tied at 1-1, with the final three games at Security Service Field.
Aaron Wilkerson was intentionally kept in Double-A for 24 starts this season, despite finishing 2016 campaign with the Sky Sox. It wasn’t a punishment, just what the Brewers wanted to do with one of their arms. Manager Rick Sweet gave Wilkerson a big vote of confidence before the game and said that the righty “was a big league pitcher” and boy did that ever ring true Thursday.
Wilkerson hopped on the mound and struck out the side in order in the first. He picked up a fly out, strike out, and ground out in the second. The only blemish on the right-handers resume came to leadoff the third inning when Adolis Garcia drew a walk. That. Was. It. He picked up three outs after that and went on to finish seven innings without allowing a hit. He polished off the final 15 men he faced in order and fanned 11 on 105 pitches in his tremendous outing.
The Sox bats were silenced over the first four innings, but they broke through with a three-run fifth and never looked back. Yadiel Rivera was on base with two down and the rally fired up. Kyle Wren singled him to second and up stepped Johnny Davis. The speedy centerfielder singled to right and Rivera scored standing up, 1-0. Ivan De Jesus smacked a grounder to third that was booted by Patrick Wisdom and another run scored. Chris Colabello capped off the inning with another RBI single and the Sox had more than enough at 3-0.
Another run came across with two down in the sixth thanks to a Tyler Heineman walk and Rivera double, 4-0. The Sox picked up their fifth run on a wild pitch after Rivera hit his second double of the game and moved to third on a groundout.
Michael Blazek took over in the eighth and walked the first man he faced before Patrick Wisdom laced a single into left, putting two on with no out, and there went the no-no. The shutout was still intact, but Blazek had his work cut out for him with two on and nobody out. He buckled down and got a ground out off the bat of Jacob Wilson for the first out, then Gabriel Lino hit into the inning-ending 6-4-3 DP and on to the ninth we went. Rob Scahill was called upon to close it out and dismissed the first man he faced, but gave up a hit to Magneuris Sierra and walked Wilfredo Tovar. Tyler O’Neill flied out for the second out and Nick Noonan snared a liner off the bat of Tommy Edman to end the game. Two-hit, 5-0 shutout.
The shutout is the first postseason shutty in the Sox franchise history and the two hits allowed is the fewest knocks giving up in a Sox playoff game, not too shabby!
Quick Hits…The Sox picked up five runs on nine hits and THREE of them were doubles, the first three extra-base hits of the series…Yadiel Rivera led the way with a 3-for-3 night, he had two doubles, walked, and scored two runs…Kyle Wren and Johnny Davis combined to go 4-for-9 with a double, RBI and two runs scored…Chris Colabello had an RBI single…Mauricio Dubon singled…Tyler Heineman walked and scored a run…Aaron Wilkerson was outstanding and fired off seven no-hit innings…He limited the ‘Birds to a walk and struck out 11 in his seven frames on 105 pitches, 65 went for strikes…Michael Blazek and Rob Scahill each gave up a hit and a walk in their scoreless innings…The win guaranteed that Saturday’s game is now a sure thing…First pitch is slated for 4 P.M. at Security Service Field…
Play of the Game –
Wilkerson’s final out!
Pregame Interviews with Dan Karcher and Manager Rick Sweet and Ivan De Jesus
IT’S TIME FOR PLAYOFF BASEBALL!!!! LET’S GOOOOOOO!!!!
TALE OF THE TAPE: The Sox and ‘Birds met 16 times in 2017 and guess what they split, with each side taking eight games. The Sox went 3-5 in Memphis and 5-3 at Security Service Field. The Sox outscored the Redbirds 89-78 in the 16 games and had a team average of .285 and ERA of 4.50. Memphis hit .260 and had a team ERA of 5.36 against Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox (1-1, 80-57) vs. Memphis Redbirds (1-1, 91-50) – 6:00 p.m.
Sky Sox Starter: Angel Ventura is slated to get the game three start tonight against the Redbirds at Security Service Field. It will be his 14th Triple-A start, and 15th overall appearance with the Sky Sox in 2017. He made his debut against the El Paso Diablos (Chihuahuas) on May 17 for the Sox and earned the win in West Texas. He enters play having gone 6-4 with a 4.06 ERA, giving up 37 runs (35 earned) on 72 hits in 77.2 innings. The righty walked 24 and fanned 52, while holding opponents to a .249 batting average against. In four home appearances (three starts) he is 1-0 with a 5.89 ERA allowing 14 runs (12 earned) in 18 1/3 innings. He’s faced the Redbirds twice and went 10 1/3 innings against them allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits, walked four and fanned five.
Ventura began the season in Biloxi and was 3-5 with a 3.48 ERA in eleven games, nine of which were starts. He was named a Southern League All-Star for his work with the Shuckers. The 24-year old was signed by the Brewers in 2011 and has steadily progressed each year. In 130 MiLB appearances, 67 starts, he is 35-32 with five saves a 3.96 ERA.
Last Time Out – September 3 – Bullpen Appearance vs. Memphis –
Ventura allowed one hit in three and one third innings of bullpen work against the Redbirds on Sunday. He gave up two runs, both unearned, walked two and struck out one on 47 pitches, 30 went for strikes.
Redbirds Starting Arm: Righty Ryan Helsley is slated to make the second start of his Triple-A career tonight in game three at Security Service Field. He took the hill in the Springs back on Saturday and limited the Sox to two runs on seven hits. The 23-year old has all the numbers of a great pitcher and compiled an 11-3 record with a 2.72 ERA in 24 games, 23 starts. He opened the season with the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League and went 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA, advanced to Double-A where he went 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA in six starts with the Springfield Cardinals, and made his AAA debut on Saturday. In 132 1/3 total innings, Helsley has allowed 44 runs (40 earned) on 104 hits, he’s given up seven homers, hit two batters, walked 48 and fanned 137.
Helsley was drafted by the Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2015 draft out of Northeastern State College in Oklahoma. The Tahlequah, OK native has made 52 appearances in pro ball (49 starts) to the tune of a 22-6 record and 2.22 ERA.
Last Time Out – September 1 – No decision at Colorado Springs –
Helsley allowed two runs on seven hits in his five-inning Triple-A debut along the Front Range. He walked three and fanned five on 95 pitches, 53 for strikes.
Dan Karcher (@SkySoxKarch) continues his 28th season behind the mic for Sky Sox games, he and I will have the call of tonight’s game from Security Service Field at 6:00 p.m. Sky Sox Warmup gets fired up at 5:30 p.m. MDT on XTRA Sports 1300.
Thanks for reading – See you on the radio,