After two hard-fought games that lasted 29 innings, the San Antonio Missions cruised to the Texas League championship Friday, beating the Arkansas Travelers, 10-6, to complete the sweep before 1,993 at Dickey-Stephens Park.
Arkansas led, 3-2, before San Antonio sent 12 men to the plate in a seven-run sixth inning. The victory gave the Missions their first championship since 2007 and capped a series that featured a four-run, ninth-inning rally in Game 1 and an epic 20-inning victory in Game 2 as the Missions won both 5-4.
"It's never over until it's over, and we've seen that in all three games," Missions manager Doug Dascenzo said. "We're very proud of our guys as well, obviously, and we were in a serious battle with the Arkansas club."
San Antonio tied it, 3-3, on Carlos Sosa's RBI single in the sixth. It took the lead when reliever Mike Piazza hit No. 9 hitter Dean Anna in the foot with the bases loaded, a call Arkansas manager Bobby Mitchell disputed. The Missions tacked on five runs as Daniel Robertson and Vince Belnome delivered two-run singles and Game 2 hero Sawyer Carroll hit an RBI base hit.
Sosa homered over the right-field wall off Robert Fish in the seventh.
The big sixth made a winner of starter Simon Castro (1-1), who struck out 10 over five-plus innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. Jorge Reyes surrendered Matt Cusick's three-run homer in the seventh that got Arkansas within 10-6.
Piazza (0-1) took the loss after failing to retire any of the five hitters he faced.
Mitchell, the Travelers' third manager of the season after Bill Mosiello left for a college job and field coordinator Todd Takayoshi's filled in, said that losing Game 1 in the ninth was costly. The Travelers also had their chances in Wednesday's 20-inning setback.
"We really needed to close out games and we didn't, and tonight they took advantage of our bullpen some," Mitchell said.
Belnome led off the Missions' second with a double down the right-field line. One out later, Cody Decker, who missed three months with injuries, drove a 2-1 pitch from starter Orangel Arenas over the left-field fence, striking a pickup truck parked close to 400 feet away and opening a 2-0 lead.
"It was a three-game sweep, but I think we played a total of 4 1/2 games," said Decker, who reachad on an infield single and scored in the sixth. "It was unbelievable. It was truly unbelievable and it was a tough battle the whole way."
Castro retired the Travelers in order and struck out four over two innings, but Alberto Rosario led off the third with a drive to left that just cleared the home run basket and landed on the berm to make it 2-1.
The Missions loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Jason Hagerty flied to center and Anna grounded out.
Cusick singled and scored the tying run in the bottom half on Orlando Mercado's single, but Arkansas also left the bases full when Castro struck out Angel Castillo.
The Travelers strung three singles together in the fifth and took a 3-2 lead when Darwin Perez scored on Cusick's base hit to center. Cusick went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored.
San Antonio won the South Division in both halves of the regular season and beat Frisco in the semifinals. Arkansas won the North in the first half, then beat second-half champ Northwest Arkansas in the first round of the playoffs.
Ouch: Missions CF and leadoff man Blake Tekotte, who has spent time with the parent Padres this season, was a late scratch due to a rib injury suffered in a home-plate collision with Orlando Mercado in Wednesday's marathon. Robertson was 1-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored in his place.
Count it: Friday's win was San Antonio's 100th of the season under Dascenzo, the Texas League Manager of the Year. He's in his second season with the Missions after guiding Class A Fort Wayne to 101 victories and the Midwest League championship in 2009.