The Nashville Sounds were crowned American Southern Division champions when they defeated the Memphis Redbirds, 5-3, Friday night at AutoZone Park.
For the first time since 2007, the Sounds are heading to the Pacific Coast League Playoffs. With the best record in the PCL (78-56), Nashville will look for its first league championship since the 2005 season.
It's the fifth division title for the Sounds since joining the PCL in 1998. The franchise won the American East Division in 2003 and the American North Division in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
The club has been in first place for 94 consecutive days dating back to May 24. The Sounds will play the winner of the American Northern Division in the first round of the playoffs set to begin on Wednesday, September 7.
The Redbirds scored the first two runs of the game when they hopped on the board in the first inning. An RBI groundout by Efren Navarro and run-scoring single by Jose Martinez made it 2-0 after one.
As they've done all season, the Sounds came storming back with authority. Two walks in the top of the fourth put a pair of runners on for Renato Nunez who hit a soft single into right field to score Jaycob Brugman with Nashville's first run.
Moments later, catcher Matt McBride cracked a three-run homer to left field to give the Sounds a 4-2 lead.
The offense was at it again when hot-hitting Josh Rodriguez launched a solo homer into the Memphis bullpen to start the top of the fifth. It was the fourth home run of the road trip for Rodriguez who has driven in 13 runs over his last seven games.
While the Sounds' offense was putting up runs, starting pitcher Jharel Cotton was settling into a groove. The right-hander retired 17 of the final 18 batters he faced. He allowed two runs over seven innings and picked up his 11th win of the season.
Eduard Santos relieved Cotton and worked a perfect eighth inning before handing off to Bobby Wahl with a 5-2 lead.
The Redbirds tacked on a run in the bottom of the ninth to cut the deficit to 5-3, but Wahl struck out the side to notch his fourth save of the season and start the celebration.
Game four of the five-game series is scheduled for Saturday night in Memphis. Left-hander Dillon Overton (12-5, 3.38) starts for the Sounds against right-hander Kurt Heyer (2-3, 5.92) for the Redbirds. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
Tickets for the 2016 Pacific Coast League playoff dates at First Tennessee Park are now available for purchase at the Nashville Sounds box office and online at www.nashvillesounds.com. The 2016 season is the Sounds' 19th year in the Pacific Coast League and their second as the Oakland Athletics' top affiliate.