San Antonio, Texas (September 21, 2023) – The Amarillo Sod Poodles forced a winner-take-all game three of the Texas League South Division Championship Series on Thursday night in San Antonio. The Sod Poodles jumped out to a six-run lead and were able to fend off a late-inning rally by the
San Antonio, Texas (September 21, 2023) – The Amarillo Sod Poodles forced a winner-take-all game three of the Texas League South Division Championship Series on Thursday night in San Antonio. The Sod Poodles jumped out to a six-run lead and were able to fend off a late-inning rally by the Missions to take game two 7-4.
Yilber Diaz was dominant on the bump from the start in game two, working a pair of scoreless innings aided by a double play in the first to help work around a pair of hits. The D-backs' no. 20-rated prospect also worked around two Missions' hits in the second to leave both stranded in scoring position.
Seth Beer got the scoring started with a solo shot in the top of the second off Ryan Bergert. It was Beer's second home run of these playoffs - and his second in as many at-bats after tying the game in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday with a solo homer. Amarillo added another pair of runs in the fourth to make it 3-0. Diaz continued to command the zone in his first playoff start of his career. The right-hander allowed just one hit in his third and fourth innings, racking up four strikeouts over the span.
A leadoff single off the bat of Tim Tawa and a two-out walk by Beer sent Deyvison De Los Santos to the plate in the top of the fifth. The D-backs' no. 5-rated prospect jumped on an 0-1 pitch to double the Amarillo advantage to 6-0 thanks to his first home run of the postseason. Diaz was back to the mound in the bottom of the sixth and struck out the first man he faced. A walk and RBI double followed and sent Sod Poodles manager Shawn Roof to the bullpen to make a pitching change after 96 pitches from Diaz. He finished the game with 5.1 IP and seven strikeouts, seven hits allowed, and just one walk as Emailin Montilla took over on the mound. A passed ball and RBI single made it 6-2 Amarillo by the time the sixth came to a close.
Caleb Roberts made it back-to-back games with a home run, attacking the first pitch of the top of the seventh to send it over the right field wall and a 7-2 advantage. Montilla struck out two more in his first full inning of work before turning the ball over to Christian Montes De Oca for the bottom of the eighth. The right-hander retired the side in order during his first inning of labor.
The bottom of the ninth started with a hit batter and two walks to load the bases for Montes De Oca and the Sod Poodles. The Sod Poodles' active leader in saves responded by inducing a flyout and 12-pitch strikeout to put the Missions down to their final out. After 42 pitches, Montes De Oca was relieved by Jake Rice to work the final out of the inning. A RBI infield single was followed by a bases-loaded walk to send the potential winning run to the plate with the Missions still trailing 7-4. Rice then earned a lazy pop fly to shallow left field to slam the door on a Missions' comeback and even the best-of-three series at a game apiece.
The winner-take-all game three is set for 7:05 p.m. on Friday night from Nelson Wolff Stadium in San Antonio. The Missions will send right-hander Adam Mazur to the mound while the Sod Poodles will start Raffi Vizcaino. The North Division Championship Series will also be headed to game three as Springfield forced a winner-take-all matchup following their 6-4 win over Arkansas on the road.
BEER BATS IN SAN ANTONIO: Seth Beer hit his second home run of the Texas League Playoffs and his 15th of the year with Amarillo on Thursday night. Beer led off the second inning with a solo shot to get the Sod Poodles on the board after tying the game in the ninth inning on Tuesday at HODGETOWN. Through the first two games of the series, Beer has two hits, both coming via the long ball and a pair of RBI with three runs scored. It was his second time with home runs in consecutive games and his first since earlier this month on September 1-2 against Midland.
CALEB CRUSHES: After becoming the first Sod Poodles player with a multi-home run game in the playoffs on Tuesday, Caleb Roberts followed it up with his third home run of the postseason on Thursday night in San Antonio. Roberts has now tied Taylor Trammell for the most postseason home runs in Amarillo franchise history. Roberts is hitting .400 (4-for-10) with three home runs, six RBI, a walk, and three runs scored through the first two games of the series. He has now hit home runs in back-to-back games for the third time this season and first since June 30th and July 1st against Tulsa. Roberts is up to 20 home runs on the season, with 17 of them coming over his last 60 games since June 25th.
ADIOS, DE LOS: D-backs' no. 5-rated prospect Deyvison De Los Santos is one of four Sod Poodles players with four hits in the playoffs and ranks second on the team with his .444 AVG through the first two games. He hit his first home run of his postseason career with a three-run home run on Thursday night, his 21st home run of the season. The 20-year-old set his single-season career-high with 22 home runs during the 2022 season, playing in 126 games between three different levels. De Los Santos has played in 115 games with Amarillo this year (including postseason). He was the lone Amarillo player to record a multi-hit game on Thursday, his 36th overall multi-hit game, which is now the most by any Sod Poodles player. He broke a tie with Ryan Bliss who had 35 in his 68 games played in Amarillo threads in 2023.
YIL'S HILL: Making his first postseason start of his career, D-backs' no. 20-rated prospect Yilber Diaz worked 5.1 IP and set his Double-A high with seven punchouts. His 96 pitches on Thursday night also matched his previous high through his previous three starts with Amarillo. Diaz improved to 2-0 in his first four starts with the Sod Poodles and lowered his ERA to 3.58 since arriving in Double-A.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Sod Poodles have now made it six straight road wins in elimination games during the playoffs dating back to the 2019 Championship run. In the inaugural season, Amarillo staved off elimination by winning three straight in Midland during the South Division Championship Series and then took the final two on the road in Tulsa to capture the Texas League Championship in the first year in franchise history. Thursday's win is the sixth-straight road elimination game the Sod Poodles have won. In such games, Amarillo has outscored their opponents 36-15.
AIN'T IT RICE: Jake Rice earned the save after getting the final out of the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday. It was Rice's fourth overall save of the year. The left-hander has now worked 1.2 IP during the playoffs and has allowed two hits without a run. Over his last 13 games, Rice owns a 2-0 record with a 3.71 ERA with two saves, and a hold. The left-hander has allowed just 18 hits over his last 17.0 IP with 22 strikeouts and nine walks.
OFFENSE TRAVELS: Through the first two games of the Double-A Playoffs, Amarillo holds the best team batting AVG, hitting .312 as a squad. San Antonio ranks second hitting .304. The Sod Poodles' eight home runs are the most in the Double-A playoffs, three more than San Antonio who also hit five at HODGETOWN on Tuesday night. The 24 hits through the first two games are also tied with San Antonio who out-hit Amarillo 10-7 on Thursday night.