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'Birds clinch division with win over OKC09/06/2009 2:15 AM ET
By Ben Spradling / Memphis Redbirds
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - It took 10 years, but the Redbirds are finally headed back to the postseason. Memphis managed to sneak past Oklahoma City 4-3, clinching the PCL's American North Division and securing their first trip to the playoffs since the 2000 season.
The Redbirds needed wins in both games of their doubleheader with Oklahoma City and a Nashville loss at New Orleans to take the division title Saturday night and after notching a win in the first game and seeing the Sounds fall on the road, Memphis truly found themselves in the driver's seat heading into the nightcap.
It looked like the 'Birds were up to the task early on after grabbing a quick 2-0 lead off RBI-singles from Mark Shorey and Tyler Greene in the first and third innings, but as the game went on it looked like maybe it was not meant to be for the 'Birds, at least not yet.
A combination of misplaced pitches and disagreeable weather looked like they were going to postpone the Redbirds playoff party for at least one day.
Oklahoma City designated hitter Justin Leone hit a three-run bomb in the top of the fourth that handed the Redbirds a 3-2 deficit as the rain began to fall and eventually sent the two teams into an hour-long rain delay.
Memphis returned from the break in championship form, as Tyler Green played hero once again and belted a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth that put the Redbirds on top for good and solidified a long overdue playoff berth for the Memphis squad.
"It was long day," said Greene. "It was great to get that lead back and let our defense and pitching take care of everything. It's a great feeling to be able to make that kind of contribution."
The first-place finish is quite an accomplishment for a Redbirds team that at one point was eight-and-a-half games out of first place and struggling to find any consistency, a far cry from the current squad that can seemingly muster a win at will.
"You can't say enough about this team," said Redbirds manager Chris Maloney. "We were way down a long time ago and we came back and got it done. It tested the will of these guys and I'm just as proud as I can be of everything they have accomplished."
The Redbirds have two more regular season games remaining before beginning their hunt for the PCL Championship on September 9, including tomorrow's 6:05 p.m. outing against the RedHawks.
Memphis sends left-hander Evan MacLane to the mound, while right-hander Elizardo Ramirez takes his turn in Oklahoma City's rotation, with fireworks to follow immediately after the last out is made.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.