AA: Frisco 7, at Wichita (MIN) 5 (10)
Frisco: 10 hits, 3 walks, 16 strikeouts
Opponent: 9 hits, 10 walks, 12 strikeouts
Frisco wins Texas League Championship series 2-0
SP Jack Leiter: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 1 SO, 48 P / 21 S
RP Tristan Polley: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO
RP Owen White: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 SO
RP Grant Wolfram: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO
SS Jonathan Ornelas: 3-5
CF Evan Carter: 3-5
3B Thomas Saggese: 1-4
LF Kellen Strahm: 1-4, 2B
1B Frainyer Chavez: 1-1
Frisco won its first Texas League championship since 2004, sweeping best-of-three series from the San Antonio Missions and Wichita Wind Surge.
The Riders fell behind 2-0 in the 1st, and the scoring seemed destined to end there. Wichita starter Brent Headrick was masterful despite lesser velocity than I’d seen in mid-September footage. In seven innings, he allowed three singles, walked none, and fanned 11 of 22 batters.
In the 8th, facing Cody Laweryson and his usually very effective upstairs 89 MPH fastball, Luisangel Acuna drew a walk, after which Kellen Strahm drilled a heater inches beyond the reach of CF DaShawn Keirsey’s glove and off the wall for an RBI double. Strahm advanced to third on the throw home and scored to tie the contest on a Trevor Hauver sac fly.
Wichita immediately retook the lead in the bottom half of the 8th. Ricky Vanasco had worked a scoreless if nervy 7th but was removed for Grant Wolfram after a single and walk to open the 8th. 3B Thomas Saggese’s throw of a Keirsey bunt eluded replacement 1B Frainyer Chavez and caromed off Keirsey’s leg, allowing a run to score from second. After another sac bunt, Austin Martin walked to load the bases with one out. Wolfram recovered from a 3-1 count to fan Edouard Julien on a corner-catching slider. Then, Anthony Prato stunningly tried to catch the battery off guard with a steal of home but was tagged out. (He was definitely tagged. Not so sure about the “out” part.)
Down again in the 9th, Jonathan Ornelas singled and advanced to third on a wild pitch and grounder. With two out and two strikes, Saggese rapped a game-tying single. Wolfram would walk a batter in the bottom of the 9th, as would mid-inning replacement Joe Corbett, but both runners were stranded.
Chavez singled in gift-runner Acuna in the 10th for Frisco’s first lead of the night. After a Scott Kapers walk, Jonathan Ornelas’s seventh hit of the series scored Chavez. Evan Carter then singled in Kapers and Ornelas to extend the lead to four.
On came closer Nick Starr. Keirsey immediately homered to halve the lead, and Julien singled with two out to bring the tying run to the plate, but Starr induced a harmless fly to left for the final out.
Outside of Headrick, Frisco scored 30 runs in 28 playoff innings. The Riders batted .294/.412/.456 in the postseason. 20-year-olds Carter and Saggese were remarkable. Promoted to an AA team fighting for a playoff spot with a week left in the season, Carter batted .351/.479/.514 in a ten-game stretch including the playoffs. He drew ten walks in 48 trips to the plate. Saggese batted .361/.425/.667 in nine games. Strahm led the regulars with a .462/.611/.846 line in the playoffs. Aaron Zavala and Scott Kapers homered twice.
I owe the bullpen a beer. It allowed 30 baserunners in 20.2 playoff innings, but only seven would score. Tristan Polley stranded three runners in the 2nd to keep the game in reach. Owen White steamrolled the Wind Surge for two innings, striking out six in a row.
Unfortunately, Jack Leiter was poor again, allowing two 1st-inning runs and walking the bases loaded in the 2nd. In his last three starts he walked 16 of 53 batters (30%).
AAA: Round Rock 9, Sugar Land (HOU) 6
Round Rock: 11 hits, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Opponent: 10 hits, 7 walks, 12 strikeouts
Record: 79-70, eliminated
SP Cole Winn: 4 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 7 SO, 91 P / 54 S, 6.51 ERA
RP Nick Snyder: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO, 4.97 ERA
RP Daniel Robert: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 6.28 ERA
RP Chase Lee: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 5.46 ERA
CF Elier Hernandez: 3-4, 2 2B, BB, .299/.357/.525
3B Ezequiel Duran: 2-5, .291/.325/.546
Round Rock again pounded Sugar Land’s bullpen late.
Cole Winn had a typical night. I’ve talked the situation to death, no need to say more. Hopefully, the upcoming break is to his benefit and he returns ready to deal.
The Express announced that Winn has the most strikeouts in Round Rock’s AAA history, including seven years affiliated with the Astros. Not that I track things of that nature well, but I never would have guessed. The Rangers have four 100-strikeout pitchers in ten seasons with the Express, all from 2022:
Cole Winn, 123 in ’22
Jason Hirsh, 118 in ’06
Tyson Miller, 114 in ’22
Andy Van Hekken, 114 in ’10
Kolby Allard, 113 in ’22
Bud Norris, 112 in ’09
J.C. Gutierrez, 108 in ’07
Josh Muecke, 107 in ’08
AJ Alexy, 100 in ’22
Chad Reineke, 100 in ’08
Innings needed for 114 strikeouts: Andy Van Hekken 177, Tyson Miller 89.
Today’s season-ending game is at noon.