Sky Sox clinch PCL American North title

Colorado Springs making first postseason appearance since 1997

Colorado Springs manager Rick Sweet guided his club to the franchise's first postseason appearance since 1997. (Bobby Stevens/MiLB.com)

By Michael Avallone / MiLB.com | August 27, 2017 9:33 PM

Without throwing a pitch or swinging a bat Sunday, Colorado Springs punched its ticket to return to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.

After remnants of Hurricane Harvey canceled the Triple-A Brewers affiliate's game in New Orleans and spoiled the chance to clinch the Pacific Coast League American Northern Division title outright, the Sky Sox celebrated on their bus out of town after second-place Oklahoma City lost the first game of its doubleheader with Omaha. 

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the organization notched its first division title since 1995 and just the third in franchise history. The Sky Sox were affiliated with the Rockies when they last made the playoffs in 1997.

"It's exciting for everybody, especially some of the younger players who are getting their first opportunity to play in the postseason," Colorado Springs skipper Rick Sweet said. "It's the first step, but it's the hardest one and the longest. Now that it's done, it's time to turn our attention to the smaller, shorter steps."  

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Led offensively by top Brewers prospect Lewis Brinson and No. 12 Brett Phillips, the Sky Sox stand third in the league in batting average (.290) and runs (783), which enabled them to open up a 9.5-game lead over the Dodgers entering Sunday. Their 77 wins mark the most since the franchise won 78 in 2004 and the sixth time since 2000 they will finish with a winning record. 

"We started talking about what we wanted to accomplish in Spring Training," Sweet said. "I told some people last year that [2017] would be a big year for us. When we were putting the club together in spring, we laid out what was needed from our players to do this. We're a young club and our players have grown, matured and stayed focused the entire season. It's very, very gratifying to see all of these guys progress the way they have."

A 27-year Minor League manager, Sweet knows the hardships of leading a team with so many moving parts. But as the Sky Sox prepare to face the Memphis Redbirds in the semifinals, he credited the Milwaukee organization for giving him the young prospects to get the job done with.


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"It is a tough job, but our success is a testament to the Brewers," the skipper said. "We've got a lot of good, young players. Even if we lose some, we have others who can capably replace them. I attribute that to what the organization has done the last few years. With some of the guys we've sent up to the Majors, even the ones that have come back do so with a good attitude. That's been a big part of the winning environment in the bigs and here in Triple-A."

In other clinching action:

Appalachian League

Elizabethton 8, Greeneville 2

Gorge Munoz's three-RBI double highlighted a six-run fourth inning for the Twins, who return to the playoffs for the second straight year after clinching their first West Division title since 2009. Elizabethton starter Nick Brown allowed two runs -- one earned -- on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts in six innings. Gameday box score

Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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