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VOL. 133 | NO. 179 | Monday, September 10, 2018

Redbirds Pitcher Delivers Walk-off Hit and Memphis Advances to PCL Championship Series

Clapp & Co. seek second straight Pacific Coast League title

By Don Wade

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Memphis pitcher Giovanny Gallegos was batting in the bottom of the 10th inning Sunday at AutoZone Park with two outs and the bases loaded, the Redbirds and Oklahoma City tied 3-3. And they were tied because the Dodgers’ Henry Ramos had blasted a two-run homer off Gallegos just a few minutes earlier for a brief 3-1 lead.

Now, Gallegos had a chance to make amends. He fell behind in the count 0-2 and his first swing had looked close to helpless. Redbirds manager Stubby Clapp was by this time out of position players. He even used pitcher Kevin Herget to pinch-run in the seventh inning when the Redbirds tied the score 1-1 in their last at-bat of the scheduled seven-inning game.

So, strategy was limited when Gallegos came to bat. Clapp had offered simple advice: “I told him to get a pitch up and swing. That’s all I care. Don’t go down looking.”

In seven professional seasons Gallegos, 27, had one at-bat. It came June 27 this year with the New York Yankees during an interleague game against the Philadelphia Phillies. He grounded out to second base.

“Made good contact, too,” Gallegos said. “Didn’t get a hit.”

On Sunday, the right-handed batting Gallegos was facing lefthander Edward Paredes. When his 0-2 pitch was up, Gallegos swung and lined a single to left-center field beyond the reach of the shortened-up Dodgers leftfielder. The improbable base hit gave the Redbirds a 4-3 triumph and their second walk-off victory in as many games to advance to the Pacific Coast League Championship series for the second straight season.

“I just so happy for the results,” Gallegos said, unable to stop smiling.” We won the game. I’m so excited for this moment. I see the ball in the middle and I think just make a good swing. You never know what happen.”

After splitting the first two games in Oklahoma City, the Redbirds won Game 3 of the best-of-five playoff series Friday night with a come-from-behind 5-4 win. Rain wiped out Saturday’s scheduled Game 4 and that meant Game 4 on Sunday was a seven-inning game. If a Game 5 was necessary, it would immediately follow Game 4 and also be a seven-inning game.

Short stop Wilfredo Tovar (right) pitches to first for a double play after forcing out Jake Peter at second. The Redbirds scored three runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the Oklahoma City Dodgers on Sept. 9 and clinch a spot in the Pacific Coast League finals. (Daily News/Jim Weber)

Clapp used five pitchers in Game 4 and although Gallegos threw just one-third of an inning, his hit made him the winner. The Ramos home run (his third of the series) could have left Clapp with regrets. After Gallegos threw a wild pitch and the runner on first advanced to second, first base was open and the count on the switch-hitting Ramos 3-2.

“I’m gonna squeal on myself,” Clapp said. “I was gonna walk him on that 3-2 count when the guy got to second base. I second-guessed myself. One pitch to get him out. Fastball down and in, where we know not to pitch him. But it just happened to go there, and he executed better than we did.”

The Redbirds collected 40 hits in the four playoff games with OKC, not one of them a home run. They hit 34 singles and six doubles. They used a walk, a double from second baseman Tommy Edman, a single from first baseman Alex Mejia, and the unlikely hit by Gallegos to score three runs in the 10th inning off two Oklahoma City pitchers (Zach McAllister took the loss).

“It’s not just one person doing everything,” Mejia said. “It’s from all of us. Believing each other. Our pitchers did a tremendous job (Sunday) keeping us in a one-run ballgame.”

“All of us” is a big group with 63 different players wearing a Redbirds uniform this season. The team has been involved in 213 separate transactions including everything from promotions to St. Louis, from Springfield, and stints on the disabled list. Eighteen different players have played for both the Redbirds and Cardinals this year.

After Mike Mayers started Game 4 with a scoreless inning as part of his rehab assignment, Jake Woodford went four innings and allowed one run when Travis Taijeron homered in the second inning. Lefthander Tommy Layne gave Memphis two scoreless innings and right-hander Conner Greene was charged with one earned run in 2.2 innings, striking out five.

Jake Woodford pitches into a bunt during the Redbird's game against Oklahoma City at AutoZone Park. Memphis scored three runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the Oklahoma City Dodgers on Sept. 9 and clinch a spot in the Pacific Coast League finals. (Daily News/Jim Weber)

Although Edman committed two errors in the game and Greene one, shortstop Wilfredo Tovar had three nice plays in extra innings to keep batters from reaching first base. It all contributed to making it to the bottom of the 10th inning and Gallegos’ big moment.

“Some unbelievable plays. I gotta remember those because I got to put them in my report later,” Clapp said.

“Gio comes up and you have to assume the chances of him getting a hit are pretty low,” Mejia said. “For him to have hammered it like he did, … that wasn’t just a jam job, he hit it hard.”

And so now it’s on to Fresno for the first two games of the PCL Championship Series on Tuesday and Wednesday. Fresno defeated El Paso 10-1 on Sunday to win that series 3-2. The league championship series will move to AutoZone on Friday for Game 3 of the best-of-five series. If necessary, Games 4 and 5, will be Saturday and Sunday in Memphis.

A year ago, the Redbirds won the PCL championship and then lost the winner-take-all Triple-A title game to the Durham Bulls.

“We’re not done yet,” said Clapp, his uniform soaked with champagne. “We got two more celebrations hopefully.”

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 51 223 1,152
MORTGAGES 55 189 861
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 25 45 144
BUILDING PERMITS 149 541 2,593
BANKRUPTCIES 24 120 581
BUSINESS LICENSES 14 65 264
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0