The minor league playoffs continued on Sunday, with the Double-A Midland RockHounds facing a sudden-death Game 5 in their Division Series. Midland cruised to victory, punching their ticket to the Championship Series in their quest for a fourth straight Texas League title.
Here’s a closer look.
Midland RockHounds vs. San Antonio Missions (Padres)
League: Double-A Texas League
Best-of-5 Division Series
Hounds win series 3-2
Somehow, some way, they pulled it off. The Hounds were on the brink in Game 4, facing elimination and a late-inning deficit, but over the span of the next 11 innings of baseball they came back to force Game 5 and then won that soundly. Just plain crazy.
They took care of business early on Sunday, as if still riding the high from the previous night’s heroics. Or rather, perhaps it was San Antonio still nursing the hangover of defeat. Jorge Mateo led off the game with an infield single, which sounds like a sentence I could reeeally get used to writing on this site, and he moved to third on another ground ball single from Jermaine Curtis. Next up was Viosergy Rosa, who made enough contact to get Mateo home, but the Missions made matters worse by botching the play — they failed to get an out and the runners moved up. Sheldon Neuse followed with an RBI groundout to plate an unearned run.
In the 2nd inning Sean Murphy added a solo homer, and just like that it was 3-0 Midland.
The Hounds quieted down after that, with 15 outs from their next 16 batters, but in the 8th they manufactured one more insurance run. Jordan Tarsovich reached on an infield single, moved to second on a sac bunt by Mateo, went to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a sac fly by Max Schrock. Sorry, I meant Future AL MVP Max Schrock.
Those were all the runs they needed. Special thanks to Missions third baseman Fernando Tatis Jr, the victim of both key infield singles by Midland as well as the perpetrator of the run-scoring error in the 1st. To his credit, he did at least homer for his team’s only run. Basically what I’m saying is the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
Sean Murphy, C: 1-for-3, HR, RBI
Jorge Mateo, SS: 1-for-3, run
Schrock, Neuse, & Rosa: 0-for-11, 3 RBI (1 RBI each)
Curtis, Tarsovich: 3-for-7, 2B, 2 runs (1 run each)
The pitching side was even zanier than the offense. After San Antonio crushed James Naile and Grant Holmes, and effectively beat Heath Fillmyer, up stepped the last guy you would expect to shut them down: swingman Joel Seddon.
The 25-year-old right-hander (2014, 11th round) was one of my sleeper prospect crushes the last couple seasons. However, he’d even fallen off my radar after stalling in Double-A and being forced out of the logjammed rotation. But here he was, starting the biggest game of Midland’s season. And he Nailed it. (That was a reference to James Naile coming out of nowhere to win the championship clincher last year in his only postseason appearance. Trust me, it’s a really funny joke.)
Seddon retired the first nine batters of the game before Tatis’ homer, and he held the 3-1 lead through five innings. The bullpen was even better — Brandon Mann, Tyler Sturdevant, and Kyle Finnegan retired all 12 batters they faced, half of them via strikeout. San Antonio only managed three baserunners all day, with the homer, a bloop single, and a hit batter.
Joel Seddon: 5 ip, 1 run, 1 K, 0 BB, 1 HR, 2 hits, 59 pitches (43 strikes)
Midland will face the Tulsa Drillers (Dodgers) in the Championship Series, beginning Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. PT, at home in Security Bank Ballpark.
Division Series review
The Hounds entered as the underdogs (zing), after finishing under .500 both in the second half of the season and overall. However, they received just enough clutch performances, from top prospects and no-names alike, to steal this series away from San Antonio.
In Game 1, it was A.J. Puk’s dominating start to set the tone. In Game 4, it was Jorge Mateo’s big double to take the late lead. In Game 5 it was Seddon, doing what the bigger prospects couldn’t by shutting down the Missions. And throughout there was Viosergy Rosa, consistently powering the offense while driving in over half the team’s runs.
One reason I’ve been so confident in this squad’s chances at a title is that they are simply too deep with talent to fail. Even getting little to nothing out of stars like Holmes, Naile, Ramirez, Boyd, and Neuse, there were plenty of others to step up and carry the load. Hopefully the same will ring true for just a few more games, even if the identity of the hot hands changes.
Viosergy Rosa, 1B: 6-for-21, 3 HR, 2 2B, 12 RBI, 1 BB, 2 Ks
Jorge Mateo, SS: 6-for-22, 2B, 4 RBI, 6 Ks, 2-of-3 SB
Sean Murphy, C: 4-for-17, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB, 4 Ks
Max Schrock, 2B: 5-for-17, 4 BB, 3 Ks
Sheldon Neuse, 3B: 4-for-20, 2B, RBI, BB, 2Ks
Tyler Ramirez, OF: 1-for-14, 2B, 2 BB, 9 Ks
And a couple key pitchers:
A.J. Puk: 4 ip, 0 runs, 8 Ks, 4 BB, 2 hits
Grant Holmes: 4⅓ ip, 5 runs (3 earned), 1 K, 2 BB, 6 hits
Heath Fillmyer: 6⅔ ip, 3 runs, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 9 hits
... with extra assists from Joel Seddon in the rotation (5 ip, 1 run) and veteran lefty Brandon Mann in the bullpen (4 ip, 0 runs, 6 Ks).
Congratulations to Midland on yet another series win! Now let’s get that 4-peat.
The RockHounds are the first team since the Jackson Mets from 1983-1987 to reach the Texas League finals in four consecutive seasons.— Midland RockHounds (@RockHounds) September 11, 2017