In less than ideal circumstances on Sunday, Giovanny Gallegos had a chance to go from goat to hero.
He left AutoZone Park the latter.
The 27-year-old Cardinals pitching prospect came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning in a tie game because Memphis was out of position players. Gallegos delivered a walk-off single to give the Redbirds a 4-3 victory over Oklahoma City and a spot in the Pacific Coast League Championship Series.
Memphis took the best-of-5 American Conference Finals, 3-1, and will meet Fresno for the crown.
Video: Gallegos rips walk-off knock for Redbirds
Gallegos' clutch knock eliminated the need for a second game in what would have been a doubleheader and kept alive the Redbirds' chances of a second straight title.
"That's exactly how I drew it up when I woke up this morning," Memphis manager Stubby Clapp joked. "I think he'd had one at-bat in the Minor Leagues before today. Why not today for his first hit?"
Cardinals No. 8 prospect Justin Williams led off the home half of the 10th with Memphis trailing, 3-1, and drew a four-pitch walk. Tommy Edman grounded a double off the first-base bag and reliever Zach McAllister (0-1) uncorked a wild pitch to score Williams. The veteran right-hander rebounded and struck out Wilfredo Tovar and Rangel Ravelo to put the Dodgers one out from a decisive fifth game.
Gameday box score
Down to his last strike, Alex Mejia lined a single just over leaping second baseman Jake Peter to plate Edman with the tying run.
Mejia stole second before Lane Thomas worked a walk. The Dodgers called on Edward Paredes and intentionally walked Max Schrock to load the bases with the pitcher's spot up next. Clapp had exhausted his bench and had to turn to Gallegos, who delivered.
"Gio comes up, a pitcher, and you kind of have to assume the chances of him getting a hit are pretty low," Mejia said. "But for him to hammer it like he did, it wasn't just a jam job. He took it and he hit it hard."
Clapp quoted a popular movie to describe the walk-off.
"It's like in Dumb and Dumber -- [Gallegos] 'totally redeemed' himself!" the manager said.
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The Obregon, Mexico, native joined the St. Louis organization on July 29 as part of the trade that sent Luke Voit to the Yankees. The right-hander had a 2.64 ERA between Memphis and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the International League, striking out 57 over 44 1/3 innings and allowing one earned run over 16 2/3 frames since joining the Redbirds.
Oklahoma City's Henry Ramos broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the 10th with a two-out, two-run homer to right-center off Gallegos. Travis Taijeron opened the scoring with an opposite-field solo shot to right in the second.
The Dodgers kept the lead until the seventh, when fifth-ranked Cardinals prospect Andrew Knizner led off with a double down the left field line. Ramon Urias bunted him over and Edman lifted a sacrifice fly to right.
"When I pinch-ran for Knizner in the seventh, I think that was the notice that, 'Hey, we're going to win this one and this one only,'" Clapp said. "It's the epitome of what can happen. It was awesome. I never say die on these guys. It worked out. It's unbelievable. I'm so happy for these guys."
Cardinals No. 19 prospect Jake Woodford gave up a run on two hits over four innings out of the bullpen and 27th-ranked Conner Greene struck out five while yielding a run on two hits over 2 2/3 frames.
"The bullpen was awesome," Clapp said. "[Tommy Layne] did an outstanding job. He gave us two solid innings. Conner Greene, he did a phenomenal job, and that's what gave us the chance."
In other PCL action:
Grizzlies 10, Chihuahuas 1
After winning the first two games of the series and dropping the second two, Fresno punched its ticket to the Finals on the strength of contributions by second-ranked Astros prospect Kyle Tucker, No. 15 Garrett Stubbs and AJ Reed. Tucker collected two hits, two RBIs, a run and a stolen base. Stubbs and Reed belted two-run homers, with Stubbs scoring twice and stealing a base. Nick Tanielu added three hits and a run and batted .474 in the semifinals. Brock Dykxhoorn allowed a run on three hits and two walks over five innings for the win. Gameday box score