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VOL. 132 | NO. 186 | Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Redbirds Capture PCL Title

Memphis plays Durham in Triple-A Championship Game on Sept. 19

By Don Wade

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Patrick Wisdom, one of the few constants on the Memphis Redbirds this season, hit a two-run homer and made a critical defensive play in Sunday’s 3-1 victory at El Paso to win the Pacific Coast League championship.

After winning the first two games of the best-of-five series at AutoZone Park, the Redbirds dropped Games 3 and 4 at El Paso. By winning Game 5 on Sunday night, the team advances to the winner-take-all Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday, Sept. 19, vs. the Durham Bulls of the International League. The game will start at 6:07 p.m. Central Time and will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.

This was the Redbirds’ third PCL title, also winning in 2000 and 2009. First-year Memphis manager Stubby Clapp was the second baseman on the 2000 club.

“Pure satisfaction for these guys to see the job through and finish it the right way with all their hard work and focus that was put into it,” Clapp said in a text Monday morning as the Redbirds were traveling to Scranton, Pennsylvania, for Tuesday’s Triple-A Championship Game.

Wisdom, who hit the home run in the fifth inning and made a diving catch at first base to end the eighth inning with two runners on base, was named Most Valuable Player of the series. He also led the Redbirds during the regular season with 31 home runs.

“I couldn’t have written the script any better,” Clapp said of Wisdom being the hero in the clincher.

Starting pitcher Matt Pearce gave the Redbirds six innings Sunday and earned the win. He allowed just one run on five hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. Clapp deployed three relievers to finish the game. Mike Mayers provided 1.2 scoreless innings. Sean Gilmartin got the lineout to Wisdom and Josh Lucas worked the ninth and got the save after allowing the first two runners to reach base.

Over the course of the 2017 season, the Redbirds have used 62 different players and only four were on the team all year. Another 22 players have played for the parent St. Louis Cardinals.

The Redbirds finished with a 91-50 record in the regular season, setting a franchise record for victories.

“The main thing is, the guys we have sent up to the big leagues have helped,” Clapp told The Daily News during the season. “That’s the big picture, right? They’ve contributed and that’s what this is all about.

“As far as the team here, it’s going good.”

That proved to be an understatement. The Redbirds kept winning and winning even as the faces and the names on the backs of the uniforms changed.

Early in the postseason (Memphis beat Colorado Springs in the first series), Wisdom said: “We don’t want to come up short with the year we’ve had. We’re attacking the playoffs with the same mindset we had in the season. We’re not putting any extra pressure on ourselves. We just took it as another game with the expectation to win.”

It has worked through 141 regular season games and two best-of-five postseason series that each went the full five games.

Only one game remains, No. 152 for the Triple-A title. A long journey that started in spring training in early March is now just about complete. Quite a first season for skipper Stubby Clapp, who had a 23-game cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 2001.

“One of the toughest guys I ever saw play,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said before the season started in explaining the appeal to bringing Clapp back to Memphis. “A lot of grit to him. And if that comes out as a manager, that’s positive.”

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