Friday we discussed the first postseason win for the Sky Sox in 22 years…Saturday we’re talking about the first playoff game along the Front Range in 20 years, and boy what a ballgame it was. It seemingly made up for lost time, and even better, the Sox ended up on the right side of the 16-15 decision. That’s right, 31 runs on 35 hits, leads of 5-0, 16-7 all fell or came narrowly close to falling, but the fact remains, the Sox pulled it out by the slimmest of margins and took a 2-1 series lead in the process. What a night.
The scoring took off in the second inning with Memphis putting up five runs in a heartbeat against Sky Sox starter Angel Ventura. The rally started with singles by Adolis Garcia and Patrick Wisdom. Gabriel Lino walked to fill up the sacks and Wilfredo Tovar drove in two with a single. Magneuris Sierra doubled home another and two batters later it was a two-run single off the bat of Nick Martini and, like I said, in a heartbeat it was 5-0 Memphis.
No biggie, right? That’s right, no biggie. The Sky Sox hopped aboard the comeback train in the bottom of the second inning thanks to a Nate Orf solo homer, the first Sox blast of the postseason to trim the deficit to 5-1. Ventura turned in a scoreless third, pitching around a double and walk and the offense picked him up with more in the home half with three two-out runs. Kyle Wren did battle with the starter Ryan Helsley and worked a walk and Johnny Davis singled him to second. Ivan De Jesus picked up an RBI double and Chris Colabello brought home the final two of the inning with a single to left, 5-4 Memphis.
A quiet, and rare, scoreless fourth led to the fifth inning where the Sox took the lead and never looked back, well they probably looked back a lot, but they never relinquished the advantage. Lucas Erceg pinch hit and reached on a single, Wren walked and David sacrificed the runners to third and second, respectively. De Jesus was intentionally walked in front of Colabello, but the pitcher Josh Zeid uncorked a wild pitch and Erceg scored to tie it at 5-5. Colabello delivered his second ribby single of the night and made it 6-5. The line kept moving as Orf doubled home a run, Mauricio Dubon brought in two more with a single and advanced to third on a missed catch error by the first baseman. Tyler Heineman capped off the six-run inning with a sacrifice fly and the Sox were sitting pretty at 10-5.
Memphis wouldn’t just stay in the nest, oh no, they came out and trimmed the Sox lead to 10-7 with a pair in the sixth on a Nick Martini single and Aledmys Diaz double.
HOWEVAH…Colorado Springs would rip off six straight to salt the game away, three in the sixth and another trio of runs in the seventh. Wren again sparked the offensive burst with a walk, Davis took advantage of a fielding error to reach and De Jesus plated the lead runner with a single. Colabello continued his big night with another RBI single and Dubon connected on a sac fly with the bases loaded to make it 13-7.
The top of the seventh saw Tim Dillard pitch around an error and face the minimum, while the bottom half saw the Sox plate three more steaks. Yadiel Rivera singled and moved to third on a throwing error by the pitcher Sean Gilmartin to begin the inning. Wren doubled him in with one out and scored on a Davis single, while he would then score two batters later on a single by, you guessed it, Chris Colabello, 16-7. Little did we know that would be the decisive hit of the ballgame.
Then came the top of the eighth. A nine-run lead with six outs to get. Things were looking pretty good, right? Not according to the Redbirds and boy did they do something about it. Nick Ramirez was called upon to begin the eighth on the bump. He gave up two singles to open the inning before recording a strikeout of Martini. Diaz doubled in a run and that was all she wrote for Ramirez. Wily Peralta was next out of the ‘pen and he got the second out of the inning on a run-scoring ground out, 16-9, but the ‘Birds weren’t done. Adolis Garcia, Wisdom, and Lino picked up three straight singles which added two more runs. Wilfredo Tovar walked to end Peralta’s outing. Then it was David Goforth who delivered a bases-loaded walk to the first man he faced and a two-run single to Jacob Wilson before Martini flied out to center ending the inning. Holy moly, are you kidding me, a seven-run inning, in the eighth, on the road in the playoffs, 16-14.
Rob Scahill was the eighth pitcher called upon for Colorado Springs and the closer was pitching with a two-run cushion in the ninth. Aledmys Diaz grounded out, but Tyler O’Neill, one of the best power hitters in the Minors stepped in and worked a 2-0 count against Scahill. The Sox pitcher gave him a fastball middle-in and O’Neill lost it over the video board in left-center for a solo shot…16-15. Fortunately for the Sox Scahill fanned Garcia on three pitches and induced a fly ball to right off the bat of Wisdom to end the game.
Unbelievable night at Security Service Field, and the Sox ended up on the right side of it, that’s for sure.
Quick Hits…The game saw 31 runs on 35 hits combined and although the Sox scored one more run, they were outhit 19-16…Tristan Archer got the win with two scoreless out of the pen, he was the first pitcher used behind Ventura…Four players in the Sox lineup had multi-hit nights…Chris Colabello paced the club with four hits and five RBI…Johnny Davis picked up three hits, an RBI, and scored three runs…Kyle Wren reached base four times via three walks and a single, he scored each time he was on base…Ivan De Jesus went 2-for-4 with two RBI, a walk, and three runs scored…Nate Orf went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI, two walks and two runs scored…Mauricio Dubon went 1-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored…Yadiel Rivera had a hit and scored a run…Tyler Heineman brought in a run and had a single…Lucas Erceg went 1-for-1 with a run scored in his pinch-hit performance…The Sky Sox used eight pitchers in the win, only three had no runs charged to them, Archer, Tim Dillard, and David Goforth…It took 3:45 to complete, making it the longest playoff game in Sky Sox franchise history, one of many records that was broken or tied…
Play of the Game –
There were sooooo many to choose from, but we will go with the Orf blast from the second…
Pregame Interviews with Dan Karcher and Manager Rick Sweet and Aaron Wilkerson –
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 (2-1, 80-57) vs. Memphis Redbirds (1-2, 91-50) – 4:00 p.m.
Game Notes/ Listen Live at 3:30 p.m.
Pitching Probables: RHP Bubba Derby (5-0, 3.55) vs. RHP Zac Gallen (1-1, 3.48)
Sky Sox Starter: Right-hander Bubba Derby takes the hill in game four of the PCL American Conference Championship Series this afternoon at Security Service Field. He will make his 13th Triple-A start in the process. The righty-hander finished the regular season 5-0 with a 3.55 ERA with Colorado Springs. Overall with the Sox he allowed 27 runs (25 earned) on 59 hits in 63 1/3 PCL innings. He walked 17, fanned 49 and held opponents to a .254 batting average against. At home he went 3-0 with a 3.58 ERA in six starts, his Triple-A debut, a “road start” against Iowa, was actually at SSF and not factored into his home stats. He earned PCL Pitcher of the Week honors on August 20. In 18 games and two starts with Biloxi, Derby went 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA, allowing 16 runs on 40 hits in 50 innings. He faced Memphis once, it came last Friday along the Front Range.
Derby was selected by the Athletics in the sixth round of the 2015 draft out of San Diego State University and was acquired by the Brewers, along with catcher Jacob Nottingham, in the trade that sent Khris Davis to Oakland. In 70 MiLB outings, 49 starts, the righty is 14-15 with a 4.08 ERA.
Last Time Out – September 1 – No decision vs. Memphis –
Derby worked the first five innings in the series opener against Memphis last Friday night and allowed three runs on nine hits. Two of the runs scored in the first inning on home runs by Breyvic Valera and Patrick Wisdom. He walked one and struck out five on 96 pitches, 63 went for strikes, in a game the Sox won 4-3.
Redbirds Starting Arm: Memphis will counter with another right-hander in Zac Gallen for game four of the American Conference Championship Series. The 2017 season saw him pitch in nine games for Palm Beach, 13 for Springfield and four for the Redbirds. All totaled up, he went 10-8 with a 2.93 ERA in the 25 starts. In the four with Memphis he accrued a 1-1 record with a 3.48 ERA allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 18 hits in 20 2/3 innings. He gave up two homers, hit three batters, walked six and fanned 23. He squared off against Nashville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, and the Sky Sox in his four PCL starts.
Gallen was drafted by the Cardinals in the third round of the 2016 draft out of the University of North Carolina. He, like Kevin Herget, hails from New Jersey. In 32 games as a pro, 29 starts, Gallen is 10-8 with a 2.86 ERA.
Last Time Out – September 4 – No decision at Colorado Springs –
Gallen took the hill in the final regular season game and limited the Sky Sox to three runs (two earned) on three hits over five innings. He walked three and struck out three on 71 pitches, 45 went 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 4:00 p.m. Sky Sox Warmup gets fired up at 3:30 p.m. MDT on XTRA Sports 1300.
Thanks for reading – See you on the radio,