The Yankees were guaranteed a spot in the championship on Friday, but it took a late rally for the Red Sox to punch their ticket to face their rivals in the Gulf Coast League Finals.
The GCL Yankees 1 defeated their fellow organizational teammates, the GCL Yankees 2, thanks to a go-ahead two-run double by Dalton Smith in the bottom of the sixth inning in an 8-4 win in their one-game GCL semifinal playoff in Tampa on Friday afternoon. The Red Sox overcame a rough start from 2014 first-round pick Michael Kopech, scoring four in the seventh to beat the Cardinals, 7-4.
The wins mean the New York and Boston affiliates will meet for the championship this weekend. Game 1 of the best-of-3 Finals is set for noon ET on Aug. 30 in Tampa.
Designated hitter Bryan Cuevas and cleanup hitter Thairo Estrada hit back-to-back homers in the seventh inning off Jose Pena to put the game out of reach for the GCL Yankees 1. Estrada, who spent last season with the GCL Yankees 2 and had no home runs this season, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a stolen base while Smith went 1-for-4.
Kevin Alexander led the GCL Yankees 2, going 3-for-5, while Jake Anderson added a pinch-hit two-run double in the sixth. Both teams totaled 10 hits. The unusual matchup came about because the Yankees have two Rookie-level teams in the Gulf Coast League, and each won its division.
Kopech, Boston's first-round pick in June, was charged with three runs on four hits and a pair of walks in 1 2/3 innings. He struck out one before Keivin Heras, Javy Rodriguez and Yankory Pimentel combined to limit the Cards to one run over the final 7 1/3 frames. Rodriguez struck out six and held the St. Louis affiliate to a run on three hits over five innings before Pimentel worked the ninth for his first postseason save.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first when Derek Gibson and Jake Gronsky hit consecutive doubles off Kopech. The Sox tied it in the fourth before Javier Guerra hit a go-ahead leadoff homer in the seventh off Dylan Hawkins. Luis Alexander Basabe lined an RBI double, Trenton Kemp added an RBI single and Josh Ockimey drew a bases-loaded walk in the four-run rally.
The Yankees went 38-22 and won the Gulf Coast League's Northwest Division this season, while the Red Sox finished 36-24 and claimed the South. The GCL Yankees 2 had won the Northeast, going 35-25, while the Cardinals went 37-23 in the East.