The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees were International League North Division champions before they pulled out a wild 8-6, 10-inning victory over the Rochester Red Wings on Saturday night.
But the celebration wouldn't have been nearly as sweet if they hadn't found a way to recover from blowing a six-run lead in the eighth.
Melky Cabrera doubled and scored the go-ahead run on a bizarre play in the top of the 10th as the Yankees secured their third straight division crown on a tumultuous night at Frontier Field.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre appeared to be cruising to an easy victory after Major League veteran Ian Kennedy matched a team season high with 11 strikeouts over 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
Phil Coke got the final out in the seventh and Eric Duncan delivered a two-run double in the eighth to give the Yankees a seemingly safe 6-0 lead before Scranton/Wilkes-Barre ran into serious trouble.
After Anderson Machado reached on a throwing error by shortstop Nick Green, Howie Clark, Garrett Jones and Bobby Kielty ripped successive singles to shave the deficit to 6-1 and chase Coke.
Trevor Plouffe greeted Mark Melancon with a grand slam over the right-field wall as the Yankees' lead dwindled to one. Green booted Matt Macri's grounder and Luke Hughes delivered an RBI double as the resilient Red Wings forged a 6-6 tie.
While the Yankees were squandering their big lead, Buffalo completed an 11-10, 10-inning triumph at Pawtucket, eliminating the second-place Red Sox from the North Division race.
Melancon (1-1) recovered to toss a scoreless ninth before Scranton/Wilkes-Barre again moved in front. Cabrera bounced a two-bagger over the fence in left, Juan Miranda walked and Shelley Duncan flied out to right before the Yankees took the lead on one of the stranger plays of the season.
Matt Carson hit a grounder to third that Macri fielded and fired toward second instead of stepping on the bag to retire Cabrera. The ball glanced off the head of umpire Pete Pedersen and into the outfield, allowing Cabrera to score and sending Miranda to third.
Green, who belted a solo homer in the fourth, atoned for his fielding miscues with an RBI single to cap the scoring. Former big leaguer Scott Strickland worked around a leadoff walk to Plouffe in the ninth for his 12th save.
The blown lead and wild ending overshadowed a brilliant performance by Kennedy.
Counted on to solidify the parent club's rotation at the beginning of the season, the 23-year-old right-hander went 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA in 10 appearances, including nine starts, during a pair of stints in New York.
However, the former first-round pick did not carry his disappointment down to the Minors, going 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA in his last eight outings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including Saturday's gem.
After Cabrera ripped an RBI single in the opening frame, Kennedy took control. He allowed six hits without a walk and fanned at least two batters in four different innings, including the seventh, when he sent Ryan Jorgensen down swinging before manager Dave Miley came out to take the ball.
Bobby Korecky (6-5) absorbed the loss for Rochester (72-70) after surrendering two runs -- one earned -- on two hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will begin its best-of-5 first-round series at Pawtucket on Wednesday.
New York's Triple-A affiliate hasn't won the Governors' Cup since 1996, when Stump Merrill guided the Columbus Clippers to the title. Ironically, Miley led the Louisville Bats to the 2001 championship by beating Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the Finals.
Miley returned to the dugout 10 days ago following the death of his 17-year-old son, Cody, who was killed in an automobile accident on Aug. 11 in Tampa, Fla.