Of course this series was destined for a fifth game, of course it was. The season series finished 8-8 between Colorado Springs and Memphis and now it sits at 10-10 after the Redbirds claimed game four 11-8 in 10 innings. The win put them up to 12-0 in extra innings games this season and it marked their 24th last at-bat victory. Game five comes right up this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. along the Front Range.
After Friday’s 16-15 thriller, who knew what was in store for Saturday…Things looked good for the home team with a three-run second inning. Nate Orf jump started the rally with a double and Mauricio Dubon reached on a bunt single to put runners at the corners for the red-hot Tyler Heineman. The catcher rifled a pitch from Zac Gallen down the right-field line for a two-run two bagger and just like that the Sox held a 2-0 lead. Heineman would scamper home on a two-out single by Kyle Wren. Things were looking okay at 3-0 Sox.
Bubba Derby was on the hill and started the game with four perfect innings. His fourth inning was the hairiest as he faced Nick Martini, Aledmys Diaz, and Tyler O’Neill for the second time and they all hit deep towering fly balls against him, but they were all caught, no problem. It was in the fifth where the Redbirds got the hang of Derby’s stuff. Adolis Garcia took him deep for a leadoff solo shot and three straight singles followed to make it 3-2. Jeremy Martinez grounded into a double play that tied the game before the inning closed, 3-3.
Nate Orf walked with two down in the bottom of the fifth inning, then took off for second and swiped it while the throw down from the catcher Martinez went into centerfield. Orf popped up and went to third and alertly tracked how the Redbirds were getting it back in. As soon as the throw in from center was lollipopped by O’Neill, Orf took of and scored easily to give the Sky Sox the 4-3 lead.
Derby went back to the hill for the sixth and retired the side without allowing a run, thanks in part to a heads-up play by his second baseman. With runners at the corners, Garcia took off from first and Heineman threw down to the covering second baseman Dubon to get him. The throw was late, but the slide by the runner brought one foot off the bag and the other on top of Dubon’s foot. The infielder lifted his foot, bringing Garcia’s off the bag and tagged out the runner for out number two. Patrick Wisdom flied out to left to end the inning, score remained 4-3 Sox…
…Only for a few moments though as Heineman stepped in for the third time against Gallen. The catcher hammered a delivery from the right-hander and CRUSHED it over the wall in right-center for a solo homer, his first of the postseason and third of 2017, 5-3 Sox and the crowd was PUMPED UP!
All of this was well and good for the Sky Sox, but Memphis, the best team in the PCL during the regular season, was not going to go away quietly. That proved to be true in the seventh as they took the lead with a four-run inning. Michael Blazek was first out of the pen to relieve Derby and got the first out of the inning, a fly ball to center. After that it went single, single, RBI double, strikeout, two-run double, RBI double, 7-5 Memphis.
The Sox trailed for the first time all game and could only muster a walk in the seventh. It was in the eighth where the drama ramped up once more. Mark Montgomery came out of the pen and picked up a quick out, walked Yadiel Rivera, but induced a ground ball off the bat of Nick Noonan for the second out of the inning. Up stepped Kyle Wren who had five homers during the regular season. Wren blasted a first-pitch homer over the wall in right-center, cutting it through the wind, and tied the game 7-7.
It remained that way until the 10th where the Redbirds hit the gas and plated four runs against Wily Peralta. Jacob Wilson was hit by a pitch, Magneuris Sierra singled and Wilfredo Tovar sacrificed them over with a bunt. Martinez was intentionally walked and Tommy Edmon struck out swinging for out number two. Peralta delivered four straight out of the zone to Martini to bring in the go-ahead run, uncorked a wild pitch for another and gave up a two-run single to O’Neill, 11-7.
The Sox bounced back with a run on a Chris Colabello single and brought the tying run to the plate, however the excitement was short lived as Orf grounded out to end the game.
Memphis improved to 12-0 in extra innings games and the Sox dropped to 6-6 after beginning the season 6-0. The Memphis win sets up a game five showdown at Security Service Field.
Play of the Game –
Kyle Wren’s game-tying blast from the seventh was most definitely the play of the game, but since MiLB didn’t cut that highlight, I give you a Tyler O’Neill two-run knock from the 10th.
Pregame Interviews with Dan Karcher and Manager Rick Sweet and Johnny Davis –
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 (2-2, 80-57) vs. Memphis Redbirds (2-2, 91-50) – 1:30 p.m.
Sky Sox Starter: Right-hander Aaron Brooks is slated to get the start in the decisive game five this afternoon along the Front Range. Brooks will make his second home start with the Sky Sox after he made his home debut a week ago against the Redbirds and Matt Pearce. He was picked up off waivers by Milwaukee on August 23, DFA’d by the Brewers and added to the roster prior to today’s game. Brooks spent all of 2017 with the Iowa Cubs before coming to the Sky Sox and finished 2017 going 8-10 with a 6.12 ERA in 26 starts, logging 145 2/3 innings, during which he allowed 110 runs (99 earned) on 192 hits. He walked 29, fanned 107 and allowed 29 homers, while allowing opponents to hit .321 against him. Brooks faced the Redbirds last Sunday and took the loss allowing eight runs (four earned) on seven hits.
The Montclair, California native was originally selected by the Royals in the 9th round of the 2011 draft out of Cal State – San Bernardino. He has pitched in the Royals, Athletics, and Cubs organizations. The Royals traded Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea to the Athletics for Ben Zobrist in 2015 and the Cubs flipped Chris Coghlan for Brooks in February 2016. All told, the righty is 52-43 with a save and a 4.59 ERA in 144 games (138 starts) in the minors and 3-5 with a 8.38 ERA in 15 MLB games. He made 5 appearances in 2016 due to injury and hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2015 when he did so for both the Royals and the A’s.
Last Time Out – September 3 – Loss vs. Memphis –
Brooks allowed eight runs (four earned) on seven hits in three and two-third innings against Memphis. He gave up two homers, one to Nick Martini the other to Tyler O’Neill, walked and fanned one on 62 pitches, 37 of which went for strikes.
Redbirds Starting Arm: Memphis will counter with another right-hander in Matt Pearce in the fifth and final game of the series. The 23-year old went 5-3 with a 6.00 ERA in 10 starts with the Redbirds. He allowed 38 runs (36 earned) on 72 hits, 7 homers, hit 4 batters, walked 10 and fanned 33. Opponents in the PCL are hitting .327 against him. He was called up from Springfield where he made 17 starts to the tune of a 9-5 record and 3.11 ERA. Away from AutoZone Park he is 1-2 with a 7.65 ERA. He faced off against Brooks in Sunday’s game and brought home the win with five innings of six-run ball.
Pearce was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2014 draft out of Polk State CC in Florida. The Bonita Springs, Florida native has made 86 minor-league starts and is 36-34 with a 3.31 ERA in them. Today will mark his 13th career start in Triple-A.
Last Time Out – September 3 – Win at Colorado Springs –
Pearce allowed six runs to the Sky Sox, but was bolstered by his offense and earned the win with five innings of work. The righty gave up the runs on eight hits and hit a batter, throwing 79 pitches, 49 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 1:30 p.m. Sky Sox Warmup will get fired up at 1:00 p.m. MDT on XTRA Sports 1300.
Thanks for reading – See you on the radio,