San Antonio earned a trip to the Texas League Championship Series after a 5-3 win over Corpus Christi in Sunday night's Game 5 at Whataburger Field.
A night after getting shutout, the Missions wasted no time getting on the board Sunday. Rico Noel led off the game with a double to left off Hooks starter David Rollins. After a Cory Spangenberg bunt single put runners on first and third with nobody out, Adam Buschini gave San Antonio a 1-0 lead with an RBI single to right. Rollins (0-1) rebounded to get two quick outs and appeared to be out of the jam entirely when Yeison Asencio dribbled a ground ball just off the mound. The left-hander fielded the ball, but his throw to first baseman Erik Castro sailed wide, allowing both Spangenberg and Buschini to score.
An inning later, the Missions pushed their lead to 4-0 when Spangenberg delivered a clutch, two-out, RBI double off the left-field wall.
San Antonio nearly added to their lead in the third, but Asencio was thrown out at home tying to score from first on an Austin Hedges double.
The Hooks got back into the game in the bottom of the fifth, an inning that began with consecutive singles by Jonathan Meyer and Drew Muren. After a Ryan McCurdy sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, Ronny Torreyes trimmed the Hooks' deficit to 4-2 with a two-run single up the middle.
It turned out to be the only runs charged to Missions' starter Josh Geer (1-0), who allowed seven hits and just one walk, while striking out a season-high, tying seven over six strong innings. The veteran right-hander had entered the game with a 6.64 ERA in eight career starts at Whataburger Field.
After reliever Matt Branham set the Hooks down in order in the bottom of the seventh, San Antonio picked up a valuable insurance run in the top of the eighth on a clutch, two-out, RBI single from Hedges.
Corpus Christi fared better against Branham in the bottom of the eighth as Domingo Santana followed a one-out walk by Preston Tucker with a double to left center. Missions' manager Rich Dauer elected to bring in lefty Jeff Ibarra to face Castro, who cut the Hooks' deficit to 5-3 with a run-producing ground out. Dauer went to the pen again, this time summoning Leonel Campos, who ended the Corpus threat by striking out pinch-hitter Leonardo Heras.
The Hooks sent the winning run to the plate with just one out in the bottom of the ninth. Fortunately for San Antonio, Campos (1st save) refused to panic, getting Ronny Torreyes to fly out to center and Enrique Hernandez to foul out to shortstop Jeudy Valdez, ending the game and the series.
After an off day Monday, San Antonio will begin the TLCS Tuesday night at Wolff Stadium against the Arkansas Travelers. It will be a rematch of the 2011 Finals, which the Missions won in a sweep. First pitch on Tuesday will be 7:05 PM. Matt Wisler (0-0, 1.42) will get the ball for San Antonio in Game 1.