In what has been a lost season for the major league parent, two of Colorado's minor league affiliates have a chance to end their season with a championship. Both the AA Tulsa Drillers and Low A Asheville Tourists advanced to the championship series of their respective leagues with wins last night.
Asheville completes suspended game
When we last left the Tourists, Asheville was up 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. David Dahl (PuRP 2) had just doubled and scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball, adding to Correlle Prime's (PuRP 25) fourth inning homer. Then the heavens opened up and the game was suspended due to rain.
Upon the resumption of the game, Matt Carasiti got a strikeout, then Trent Daniel came in. Daniel walked a batter, then struck out the next hitter but it was a wild pitch and the batter reached base to load the bases. Fortunately, Daniel was able to induce a groundout, then pitch a 1-2-3 9th inning to send the Tourists to the South Atlantic League finals.
Asheville will play the Hagerstown Suns in a best of five series beginning tomorrow, with Rockies first round pick Kyle Freeland (PuRP 7) the likely starter.
Behind Taylor Featherston's bat, Tulsa wins wild one to advance
The Drillers were in the playoffs on the strength of their first half division title, but they had faded somewhat down the stretch. Fortunately, Tulsa's offense came to life at the right moment (and Carlos Hernandez pitched the game of his life two days ago) to lift the Drillers into the Texas League finals for the first time since 2002 (and hence, their first time as a Rockies affiliate) with a 9-7 win last night.
For that, the Drillers have their second baseman to thank. Taylor Featherston (PuRP 26) had a game to remember, going 4-4 with a homer, double, and five RBI. Featherston hit a solo shot in the fourth inning to start the scoring, hit RBI singles in the sixth and seventh innings, then capped it off with a go-ahead two run double in the ninth inning to give Tulsa the lead for good. That's not to say that Featherston was alone - Ryan Casteel (PuRP 15) and Delta Cleary both had multi-hit games while Casteel and Tyler Massey each knocked in two runs.
After Featherston's homer in the fourth, Jayson Aquino (PuRP 21) allowed a run in the fourth, but the Drillers scored three runs in the sixth and three in the seventh to take a seemingly insurmountable lead. But surmounted it was, as the Arkansas Travelers scored three runs each in the seventh and eighth innings off Aquino, Ken Roberts, and Kraig Sitton to take a 7-6 lead.
Sitton's three runs were all unearned due to an error by Featherston, but the second baseman redeemed himself with the aforementioned two run double in the ninth and Massey added an insurance run by knocking in Featherston. Cole White got the save and the Drillers were on their way. Aquino, by the way, pitched six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out four.
Tulsa will play the Midland RockHounds (what does that even mean?) in a best of five series starting Tuesday. Eddie Butler (PuRP 3) is the likely game one starter.