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RockHounds rule in Texas League09/19/2009 7:31 PM ET
By Daren Smith / MLB.com
Raul Padron's only hit of the Texas League playoffs was the biggest of the postseason.
Inserted as a defensive replacement, Padron slugged a two-run homer in the 12th inning Saturday as the Midland RockHounds won their second Texas League championship in five years with a 4-2 triumph over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
Padron, who made stops at Triple-A Sacramento and Class A Advanced Stockton before joining the RockHounds in June, came on to play first base in the bottom of the ninth. He grounded into a forceout in the 10th and was 0-for-4 in the playoffs before striding to the plate in the 12th with two outs and a runner at first.
"In my first at-bat, he threw me a hanging curve and I watched it, and I knew he wasn't going to let me see it again," Padron said of Naturals reliever Ben Swaggerty. "It was 2-1, so I could tell he was going to throw me a fastball; I was just looking for my fastball. All that was going through my head was, 'If he throws me a fastball, don't miss. Don't miss.'"
He didn't, sending the 2-1 offering over the right-field fence to snap a 2-2 tie.
"I felt great, I feel great," Padron said. "It's an unbelievable feeling."
"It was a pleasant surprise, but Padron can definitely hit," RockHounds manager Darren Bush added. "He can really hit."
Jared Lansford, Midland's eighth pitcher, worked around a one-out single in the bottom of the 12th to earn his second postseason save. He preserved the win for Jared Fernandez (2-0), who yielded a hit and a walk in two scoreless frames.
Padron's heroics would not have been possible if not for Corey Brown, who forced extra innings with a two-run blast in the ninth. Limited by a knee injury to 66 games during the season, Brown went deep for the second straight contest.
"I've had tendinitis in my knee all year, so it felt good to get out there and battle it out, to fight through and hit the tying home run in the ninth in the decisive game," he said.
Midland, which won the second-half South Division title, reeled off three straight wins in the Finals after dropping the series opener. The turning point came in Game 2, when the RockHounds erased an early five-run deficit and got homers from Shane Peterson, Archie Gilbert and Jemile Weeks in a five-run sixth inning.
"Our guys have done a great job in there. They've been very patient," Bush said. "They waited it out and they waited it out and when they got their pitches, they made sure to hit them.
"This was a great season. These guys have worked hard all season long. That was always their goal. They set out to prove in the beginning that they were the best team in the league, and they did. I'm very, very proud of these guys."
Midland starter Tyson Ross was dominant for six scoreless innings, striking out 11 while allowing three hits and a walk. Everett Teaford was nearly as good for Northwest Arkansas, limiting the RockHounds to five hits over six shutout frames.
The Naturals finally broke through in the seventh against Jon Hunton, the first of Midland's seven relievers. David Lough hit a leadoff single, Corey Smith doubled and Major League veteran Vance Wilson lifted a sacrifice fly to break the scoreless tie. Cody Clark followed with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.