Cats rally, clinch historic division title

Weeks delivers go-ahead two-run double with two out in ninth

By Robert Emrich / Special to | August 29, 2012 9:56 PM

The River Cats decided to make history just a little more dramatic on Wednesday night.

Jemile Weeks smacked a go-ahead two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning as Triple-A Sacramento rallied past Colorado Springs, 4-3, and wrapped up another Pacific Coast League division title.

After Sky Sox reliever Coty Woods retired the first two River Cats in the ninth, newcomer Blake Lalli singled to keep the inning alive. Jermaine Mitchell followed with another base hit, sending pinch-runner Grant Green to third. After a wild pitch moved Mitchell up to second, Weeks doubled to right field to put Sacramento on top.

"We were looking at scores of the Las Vegas game in the clubhouse and we were like, 'Oh, geez, Vegas isn't going to lose; we need to win,'" River Cats starter Bruce Billings said. "With two outs, it was kind of looking bleak, but a little base hit here, a base hit here and we were in business. There was some fist-pumping and jumping in the clubhouse."

Sacramento got the loss from second-place Las Vegas that it needed and won the Pacific Southern crown. It's the River Cats' sixth straight division title, an unprecedented feat in the PCL's 110-year history.

"Every one of our goals is to play in the Major Leagues, not just play but play in important games," Billings said. "The only way to practice that is to play important games in the Minors. It makes coming to the park in the dog days of August easier."

Jeremy Accardo pitched around a hit in the bottom of the ninth to record his second save. Tyson Ross (6-2) got the win in relief of Billings, allowing an unearned on one hit over two innings.

Pitching has been the key to the River Cats' season. They lead the league with a 1.31 WHIP, 1,095 strikeouts and rank second with a 4.02 ERA. Billings, who allowed two runs and scattered eight hits over six innings, is seventh in the PCL with a 3.98 ERA.

"We have a pretty good team," the California native said. "We pitch it well, we play good defense and have some good hitting as well. We're going to be in a lot of games and win a lot of games that way."

Sacramento also leads the circuit with 162 homers and is third with 800 runs scored.

However, it's not just about what fans see on the field, Billings said. It's also about what happens in the locker room.

"We have a great team," the 26-year-old right-hander said. "On the field great, but we also have great chemistry. In the clubhouse, we have a real good time, we're all ragging on each other, we're like a little band of brothers. Not a lot of times you get a group of guys that actually enjoy being around each other."

Rehabbing Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki homered for the Sky Sox.

Other clinchings:

Florida State League
Jupiter 2, St. Lucie 1

Mark Canha hit a sacrifice fly to break an eighth-inning 1-1 tie and clinch the FSL South Division second-half title for the Hammerheads. Marlins top prospect Christian Yelich went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Jordan Conley picked up his fourth win with an inning of hitless relief.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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