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Yankees, Red Sox advance to GCL finals
First-rounder Kopech avoids loss thanks to late Sox rally
08/29/2014 5:20 PM ET
Thairo Estrada hit .272 with six RBIs in 23 games between Staten Island and the GCL this season. (Ashley Marshall/MiLB.com)

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.

Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow his MLBlog column, Minoring in Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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