Locked in a taut pitcher's duel, the Albuquerque Isotopes (0-3) were unable to muster a run on a trio of Memphis Redbirds (3-0) pitchers, falling 1-0 Friday night at AutoZone Park. With the defeat, the 'Topes' 2009 season ends in a three-game sweep to the 'Birds, who now advance to the Pacific Coast League Championship series.
Faced with a must-win situation, 'Topes starter Tim Corcoran was up to the task, turning in his second consecutive brilliant outing. The right-hander tossed six excellent innings, allowing just one run on six hits while walking one and striking out four.
Corcoran's (0-1) only blemish came in the second inning, when David Freese led off the frame with a solo homer that barely cleared the wall in right, giving Memphis a 1-0 lead. The big-fly turned out to be the only extra-base hit the 'Birds would get off Corcoran, who fired 88 pitches on the contest, 60 for strikes.
The single tally proved to be enough for Redbirds starter Evan MacLane, who was dominant through his seven shutout innings of work. MacLane (1-0) scattered five hits, striking out six and walking none.
Albuquerque's best threat on MacLane came in the third, when J.D. Closser led off the frame with a double. Corcoran's attempt to sacrifice the runner to third came off the bat too hard, however, allowing first baseman Mark Hamilton time to throw to third, just nipping Closser at the bag. After a strikeout to Tony Abreu, Xavier Paul roped a single to right, enabling Corcoran to sprint to third and give the 'Topes runners on the corners with two down. MacLane wriggled off the hook, however, striking out Hector Luna to quell the threat. Corcoran was one of just three Isotopes base runners to get into scoring position against Memphis the entire night.
MacLane gave way to Josh Kinney in the eighth, who allowed Paul to reach on a one-out single but escaped any further damage when Luna hit a rocket to shortstop Tyler Greene, who doubled off Paul at first to end the inning.
'Birds closer Pete Parisi (2) put the nail in the Isotopes' coffin in the ninth, retiring Albuquerque in order to end the game and the 'Topes season while notching his second consecutive playoff save.
Jamie Hoffmann accounted for two hits on the night along with Paul, as the potent 'Topes offense was limited to just six total hits.
Despite the bitter ending, the Isotopes enjoyed one of their best years in franchise history both on and off the field. In addition to their first playoff berth since 2003, the 'Topes saw more than 600,000 fans pass through the turnstiles in 2009, the most in franchise history. For information on 2010 season tickets, mini-plans, or even possible group outings next year, visit www.albuquerquebaseball.com.
Most of all...
THANKS 'TOPES FANS FOR A GREAT SEASON!!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.