There is no more "arithmetic" involved, no magic numbers to crunch - - the RockHounds are second half champions of the Texas League South Division. With an 11-3 win over San Antonio, the 'Hounds eliminated both the Missions and Corpus Christi Hooks from the pennant race.
The win made franchise history - - - the first team in 45 years of the Cubs, Angels and RockHounds to reach the postseason in three consecutive seasons - - - and gives the club the opportunity to continue its pursuit of the Texas League's first "three-peat" in nearly a century.
The RockHounds took charge early on Tuesday, building an 8-0 lead after three innings. Tyler Marincov's two-out, bases-empty triple to right-center in the first was followed by an RBI single from Yairo Munoz and an RBI double off the bat of Andy Paz for a 2-0 lead. In the second, again with the bases empty and two out, James Harris and Franklin Barreto combined to make the score 3-0. Each had a single and the pair then pulled off a double-steal with Harris scoring the run and Barreto taking second for his 30th steal of the season.
The 'Hounds broke the game open with a five-run third, triggered by a first-pitch home run to right by Munoz. The RockHounds then loaded the bases with Harris driving in a run on a single and Barreto cleating the bags with a 400-foot double to center. The three-run swing gave Barreto his second season milestone of the night, bringing his RBI total to 50 and making the score 8-0.
Chris Jensen (see "Stat of the Day," below) went six innings for the pennant-clinching win. Appropriately for an historic "team" win, every batter in the lineup scored a run, drove in a run, or both. Munoz (3-for-5, home run, three runs, two RBI) and Paz (3-for-5, two runs, one RBI) led the way with three hits each, backed by Barreto (2-for-5, three RBI, stolen base), Marincov (2-for-5, one run, one RBI), Harris (2-for-4, two runs, two RBI, two stolen bases) and J.P. Sportman (2-for-4, one run, one RBI).
… are 41-22 in the second half and 74-59 overall … are 39-28 at Security Bank Ballpark and 35-31 on the road … have won four of five ... are 3-0 in the regular season's final homestand (2-0 vs. Frisco) ... are 14-15 in the season series with the Missions (9-5 at Security Bank Ballpark and 5-10 at Nelson Wolff Stadium in San Antonio) … are 45-40 vs. the South Division.
... are second half champions of the Texas League South for the second consecutive season.
... will meet the Corpus Christi Hooks, also for the second consecutive season, in the South Division Championship Series.
- Games 1 and 2 are at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi - Wednesday, September 7 and Thursday, September 8
- Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) at Security Bank Ballpark - Friday, September 9 (Saturday, September 10 and Sunday, September 11 are if necessary)
... continue the regular season's final home series, hosting the San Antonio Missions on Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Security Bank Ballpark. The 'Hounds and Missions also meet on Thursday and Friday evenings, both at 7:00 p.m.
Kibbles & Bits
STAT of the DAY: How appropriate, almost poetic, that Chris Jensen, returning for one start, was on the mound when the RockHounds clinched their third consecutive trip to the postseason. Jensen was a member of both the 2014 and 2015 championship clubs and opened the 2016 season back with the 'Hounds. In his two and a half seasons with the club, Jensen has been a model of consistency. His six-inning performance Tuesday marked the 61st time in which he has pitched five or more innings. Jensen now ranks fifth in franchise history in both career wins (27) and strikeouts (257).
- No individual stats tonight, just a really nice (and historic!) team win.