Pawsox quest for national championship falls short
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Reno (NV) Aces met in the Triple-A National Championship game Tuesday night, a one game winner-take-all contest in Durham, NC against the champs of the Pacific Coast League. Reno, the top minor league affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, jumped on the Pawsox early…scoring three runs in each of the first two innings to go on and win the Triple-A championship 10-3.
The Aces got after Pawsox starter Nelson Figueroa in the first inning, getting a lead-off triple from A.J. Pollack, an RBI single from Tyler Kuhn and a two-run home run from Brent Clevlen to make it 3-0. In the second, Pollack and Kuhn went back to work with run-scoring hits to push the lead to 6-0, and chase Figueroa from the game after getting out of the inning.
The normally reliable Pawtucket pitching staff yielded another two runs in the 3rd on a sacrifice fly RBI from Clevlen, and an outfield error (a dropped fly ball in right field) by Bryce Brentz to make it 8-0, but at that point the damage had pretty much been done. The Pawsox scratched a run across in the 4th; a double by Danny Valencia and three walks plated Valencia with the score to make it 8-1.
Tony Thomas led off the 5th inning with a solo home run off of 21-year-old Reno starter Trevor Bauer to make it 8-2, and then loaded the bases to chase Bauer from the game. Mike DeMark came in from the bullpen, and struck out Jonanthan Hee to end the threat.
Left fielder Keon Broxton hit a two-run homer off of Pawsox pitcher Brock Huntzinger in the bottom of the 5th to make it a 10-2 game. Pawtucket added another run in the 7th on Che-Hsuan Lin’s single to center, scoring Dan Butler. But that’s as close as the Pawsox would come on a rare, rainy night that had Pawtucket playing for as much as they ever have before.
It just didn’t quite turn out the way they had hoped.
The Triple-A National Championship game has been held since 2006, with the IL champ having won the past three titles (the last two by Columbus, one by Durham) over the PCL winner. A Triple-A playoff has been in existence in some form for minor league baseball’s top level on and off since 1904, including continuous post-season play from 1932-62. Pawtucket has had one previous appearance in a national title series, having defeated Tulsa (of the now-defunct American Association) four-games-to-one in what was known as the “Junior World Series” in 1973…the Pawsox had gone 14-3 over their previous 17 games heading into the national title game, including 6-1 in the playoffs to claim the IL (Governor’s Cup) title…September 18th was officially the latest date on the calendar that the Pawsox have ever played a game. The previous late date had been September 15th (1977), when the Pawsox lost the Governors’ Cup final at Charleston... only 9 of the 25 players on the current Pawsox playoff roster were born when Pawtucket last won the Cup prior to this year in 1984…