The Midland RockHounds became the first minor league team in 92 years to win four straight league titles on Sunday with a 1-0 win over the Tulsa Drillers. Midland stormed back from an 0-2 deficit in the series to win three straight on the road to capture the crown.
Midland scored an unearned run in the first inning and that was all James Naile, Tyler Sturdevant, Joel Seddon, Brandon Mann and Kyle Finnegan would need to bring home the win.
Jorge Mateo led off the game with a groundball to third that third baseman Erick Meija threw away. Mateo went to second on the error and came around to score with two-outs on Viosergy Rosa‘s RBI single. The RockHounds would have several opportunities to add to their lead, but Midland went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
Naile and company made sure the first inning run held up. After struggling in Game One, Naile came up big in Game Five, allowing only five hits and two walks in six shutout frames. The right-hander struck-out six. Sturdevant worked a scoreless seventh. In the eighth, Seddon walked the D.J. Peters to lead off the inning. Errol Robinson bunted Peters to second, but Seddon recovered to retire Yunisel Diaz on a groundout. Mann then came in and struck-out Texas League MVP Matt Beatty to end the threat.
Finnegan, throwing on his third day in a row, worked through a little drama, as well. After retiring the first two batters, Finnegan struck-out Mejia for what would have been the final out of the game. However, the strike-three pitch got away from Sean Murphy for a wild pitch and Mejia reached first base. Finnegan calmly recovered to induce a game-ending groundout off the bat of Keibert Ruiz. Finnegan earned saves in all three finals wins for Midland and he didn’t allow an earned run in 5.2 post-season innings this year.
Max Schrock, who fielded the final out of the game, had three hits, including a double. Sheldon Neuse added a double and he finished the series with a .500 average. Rosa walked twice in addition to his key, two-out, first-inning single.
The league title is the first for manager Fran Riordan, who took over as Midland’s skipper this season after leading the Beloit Snappers the previous two seasons.
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