MEMPHIS, Tenn. - All Memphis needed was one more out to win the season finale versus the Oklahoma City RedHawks, but Casey Benjamin's three-run homer toppled the 'Birds 5-3 Monday afternoon.
Closer Royce Ring was summoned from the bullpen to start the ninth inning with the 'Birds up 3-2. The southpaw retired his first batter and fanned his second, but then allowed two singles and the game-winning home run. Ring was handed his second loss and third blown save of the season.
Luckily for the Redbirds, the game was merely a scrimmage, preparing the team for their first playoff game in 10 years, due up Wednesday September 9 against the Albuquerque Isotopes.
"These games don't mean much, these last two, but you try and do the best you can," Redbirds second baseman Jarrett Hoffpauir said. "Just take pitching you know, try to take every at-bat as if it's going to be one that's going to help you in the future."
Hoffpauir did use his four at-bats well Monday, turning in the 'Birds only multi-hit performance with a single in both the fourth and fifth innings.
When asked about the team's mind-set for their upcoming series against Albuquerque, Hoffpauir quickly answered with a confident response.
"I think we're as good as we can be," Hoffpauir said. "Everybody's pretty upbeat and pretty excited."
Hoffpauir has reason to be optimistic about his team, who entered Monday's game hitting .309 over their last 10 games for a record of 7-3.
On the bump for Memphis in Monday's bout was Oneli Perez, who made his 10th start of the year. The right-hander fanned four RedHawks and allowed two runs in six innings of work. Charlie Manning and Fernando Salas each pitched a hitless inning of relief before Ring took the mound in the ninth.
Oklahoma City's Casey Benjamin was the offensive leader of the game, going 4-for-5 with two runs, three RBI and the ninth-inning home run.
The 'Birds will rest up Monday night and fly to Albuquerque Tuesday for games one and two. Jaime Garcia will start for the 'Birds on Wednesday and P.J. Walters will go on Thursday. The team returns to AutoZone Park on Friday for game three.
If necessary, games four and five will also be played in Memphis to complete the five-game series against the 'Topes.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.