Tourists reclaim Sally League title

Wade tosses seven scoreless innings in decisive fifth game

The Asheville Tourists celebrate after Konner Wade recorded his second win of the Finals. (Blake Hawkins/Asheville Tourists)

By Robert Emrich / MiLB.com | September 13, 2014 11:34 PM

They may be Tourists, but they're no strangers to their current locale.

Konner Wade gave up five hits over seven scoreless innings and Raimel Tapia homered Saturday night as Asheville captured its second South Atlantic League championship in three years with a 4-1 win at Hagerstown.

Wade (2-0) struck out six without walking a batter and recorded 10 ground-ball outs en route to his second win of the series. He was responsible for the Tourists' first and final wins of the Finals, and did not allow a run in either start.

"It was huge," manager Fred Ocasio said. "He came up huge in the first game and today he was outstanding. He kept the ball on the ground and did a nice job. He gave us seven strong innings."

Troy Neiman followed Wade and allowed an unearned run on one hit while recording a pair of outs. Trent Daniel tossed 1 1/3 hitless innings to earn his third playoff save.

The Tourists staked the 22-year-old right-hander to an early lead, with Correlle Prime singling in a run in the opening inning. Tapia, the Rockies' fifth-ranked prospect made it 2-0 with a solo homer in the third and Zach Osborne wrapped up Asheville's scoring with a two-run double in the fourth.

For Ocasio, the title is especially sweet after the Tourists finished below .500 and missed the playoffs a year ago.

"I'm so happy right now," he said. "I managed in Tri-City and we went to the [Northwest League] Championship Series and we were never able to win it. This year, here with the team, we knew we had a chance to win it. It's an amazing feeling and it's good to finally get that one out of the way.

"This is the thing we set up out of Spring Training. These guys were amazing and we were able to accomplish our goal. A lot of happy people right now."

The Tourists, who also won the title in 2012, were 10 outs from ending the series on Saturday night before the Suns rallied. Ocasio said he remained confident in his squad.

"We just had a meeting earlier today and I told them I was proud of them for what they had accomplished so far," he said. "Just let them know to give it your best today and see what happens. They came out with a couple of big hits. Konner threw the ball and Neiman and Daniel came in to close like they did all year."

The Tourists lineup, the best in the league during the regular season, was led by Tapia, David Dahl and Ryan McMahon, three of Colorado's top seven prospects. Having such talent at his disposal made things easy for Ocasio.

"That's the thing," he said. "Having the team I had this year, with all the prospects, putting their names in the lineup every day is easy. When you've got guys like that in the lineup, you're always going to have a chance."

Narcisco Mesa drove in Hagerstown's lone run with a groundout in the eighth.

Suns starter Nick Pivetta (0-2) went five innings and allowed four runs -- three earned -- on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

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

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