Sod Poodles Are The Texas League Champs
The haters said it couldn't be done, but here we are... the Amarillo Sod Poodles are the 2019 Texas League Champions. We all knew it would be a historic season - new team, new stadium, but to have our brand new team take it all the way to the top in their first season is something lovers of the Soddies could have only dreamt about back in the spring.
Down 3-1 heading into the ninth inning, the Sod Poodles rallied to load the bases with no outs. On a 2-2 pitch, Taylor Trammell answered the call with a go-ahead grand slam to lead the inaugural Amarillo squad to their first Texas League title in nearly four decades. The Sod Poodles completed the top of the ninth with seven unanswered runs and won the decisive game five over the Tulsa Drillers by a final score of 8-3.
Amarillo starter Aaron Leasher tossed four strong frames of two-hit shutout ball in his second consecutive game-five start to set the tone with two walks and a strikeout.
After the Sod Poodles failed to break a scoreless game in the fifth after loading the bases with no outs, the Drillers took advantage and got on the board first. With two outs and Jared Walker on second after a hit by a pitch and stolen base, Jeter Downs lined a base hit to centerfield to make it a 1-0 contest.
Tulsa extended their lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh when Jeter Downs came up clutch once again and sailed a two-run home run to left field off of reliever Lake Bachar, who followed Leasher and tossed three quality innings with six strikeouts to keep Amarillo within striking distance.
In the top of the eighth, pinch-hitter Taylor Kohlwey led off and started the momentum after he was hit by a pitch. After two quick outs recorded, Edward Olivares singled and Owen Miller walked to load the bases. Catcher Luis Torrens battled in a nine-pitch at-bat to walk in the first run for the Sod Poodles while Hudson Potts grounded out up the middle to end the frame and keep it a two-run Drillers advantage.
Reliever Evan Miller (W, 1-0) tossed a three-batter bottom of the eighth to get Amarillo bats back up in the top of the ninth.
Down two runs with three outs to work with and Tulsa closer Nolan Long on the mound, Kyle Overstreet and Buddy Reed saw four straight balls each while pinch-hitter Peter Van Gansen singled to load the bases with nobody out.
Trammell fell to an 0-2 count after a foul and called strike, and after two balls and a foul, he connected with the sixth pitch, blasting it over the right-field wall to push Amarillo ahead 5-3. Potts extended the lead after he crushed a second home run of the frame with two outs and two on, making it an 8-3 lead and capping off a seven-run top of the ninth.
In the bottom of the ninth, go-to southpaw Travis Radke, who threw just 16 pitches to close out game four in Tulsa, entered game five with a title on the line. Following two quick fly outs to the first two batters on eight pitches, Radke, with a 2-2 count to Drew Avans, tossed an offspeed pitch for strike three looking to earn the save and send the Sod Poodles into a celebration frenzy at ONEOK Field in Tulsa.
The league title marks the first for Amarillo since the inaugural season of the 1976 Gold Sox, who were also the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.