A throwing error by Corpus Christi center fielder Drew Muren in the bottom of the 12th gave San Antonio a thrilling, 7-6 win in Game Three of the Texas League South Division Series Friday night at Wolff Stadium.
The Missions wasted no time getting on the board against Hooks starter Luis Cruz. Following a leadoff single by Rico Noel, Cory Spangenberg deposited a double into shallow left. After Cruz fanned Adam Buschini for the first out, the Hooks elected to intentionally walk Tommy Medica to load the bases. That brought up Jake Blackwood, who sent a line drive over the head of Muren, allowing all three runners to score for an early San Antonio lead.
Two innings later, Corpus Christi got back in the game with a two-run rally against San Antonio starter Donn Roach. The Hooks got their first run when Leonardo Heras grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. First baseman Erik Castro followed with an RBI single, cutting the Hooks' deficit to 3-2.
It turned out to be the only runs charged to Roach, who allowed six hits and just one walk, while striking out four over six and two-thirds innings. The sinker baller threw 64 of his 87 pitches for strikes and matched his regular season-high in innings pitched.
San Antonio pushed their lead to 4-2 in the seventh courtesy of a clutch, two-out, RBI single to center by Noel off reliever Alex Sogard.
However, Corpus Christi turned the game around in the top of the eighth with a game-tying, rally against right-hander Leonel Campos. Two batters after Castro made the score 4-3 with a sacrifice fly, designated hitter Preston Tucker drew the Hooks even when he took Campos' 0-1 pitch into right for a single.
Unfazed by the Corpus Christi comeback, San Antonio responded with a two-run rally of their own in the bottom of the eighth. A Spangenberg single and a Buschini double quickly put runners on second and third with no outs. Medica followed with a sacrifice fly to deep right field, putting San Antonio in front, 5-4. After the Hooks replaced Sogard with Jonas Dufek, Blackwood gave his team a two-run lead with another sacrifice fly.
The Missions called to Jeremy McBryde in the ninth, but the usually reliable closer allowed the Hooks to tie the game on run-scoring singles by Heras and Domingo Santana.
After Dufek retired San Antonio in order in the bottom of the frame, the contest moved into extras.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the 12th. Designated hitter Rocky Gale began the rally with a leadoff double to left off reliever Carlos Quevedo. After Gale was lifted for pinch-runner Everett Williams, Quevedo (0-1) got his first out when Jeudy Valdez bounced out to third. Corpus Christi elected to intentionally walk Noel to face Spangenberg. The second baseman lifted Quevedo's 0-2 pitch into center field, where Muren made the catch for the second out. However, on the play, Muren made an ill-advised throw to first base in an attempt to double-up Noel. The throw sailed over Castro and into the Hooks dugout, allowing Williams to score from second with the game-winning run.
Matt Branham (1-0) earned the win for the Missions with two perfect innings of relief.
San Antonio has a chance to move on to the TL Championship Series with a win in Saturday night's Game Four. First pitch will be 7:05 PM. Juan Oramas (3-2, 3.07) will take the hill for the Missions, while the Hooks will look to stay alive with Ruben Alaniz (9-9, 4.53).
Notes: The Arkansas Travelers advanced to the TLCS following a 5-2 win over the Tulsa Drillers Friday night.