For the Memphis Redbirds, a year made all the difference.After losing Durham in last year's Triple-A National Championship, the Redbirds slugged their way past the Bulls, 14-4, on Tuesday as they claimed their first Triple-A title."It signifies the whole year, as far as getting good quality pitching and then the
For the Memphis Redbirds, a year made all the difference.
After losing Durham in last year's Triple-A National Championship, the Redbirds slugged their way past the Bulls, 14-4, on Tuesday as they claimed their first Triple-A title.
"It signifies the whole year, as far as getting good quality pitching and then the bats come alive for us and good, consistent defense," Memphis manager Stubby Clapp told MiLB.com. "Guys are just playing good, solid baseball all the way around and we get the 'W.'"
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Memphis wins Triple-A title - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2494917983
Alex Mejia, Randy Arozarena and Lane Thomas, the Redbirds' respective Nos. 3 through 5 hitters, each collected at least three hits and collectively were 11-for-14 with 12 RBIs. Mejia was named the game's MVP after finishing 5-for-5 with five RBIs and three runs scored. The Redbirds' 14 runs, meanwhile, were the most scored by a team in the event's 13-year history.
"I had a few [big games], but this is definitely one that feels really good. To end the season, deservingly as how we should have," Mejia said. "I was just keeping things simple, keeping the same approach. Thinking about that right-center gap, trying to drive it somewhere over there."
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In the first, Rangel Ravelo reached on a one-out single, advanced to third base on Mejia's single and then scored on Durham starter Chih-Wei Hu's wild pitch to backstop. Arozarena, the Cardinals' No. 6 prospect, subsequently plated Mejia with a double down the left-field line, extending the Redbirds' early lead.
MILB Video - Title: Arozarena's RBI double - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2494386483
Mejia and Arozarena recorded their second hits of the game in the third, tallying back-to-back singles before scoring on Lane Thomas' one-out triple off of the wall in left field. Cardinals No. 8 prospect Justin Williams -- a member of the Bulls' 2017 championship squad whom St. Louis acquired for Tommy Pham at the Trade Deadline -- followed with a sacrifice fly to cap the Redbirds' three-run frame.
Memphis would continue its offensive onslaught in the fourth. After loading the bases with one out via two singles and a walk, Mejia tallied two more RBIs with a knock to right field and Arozarena added a sacrifice fly.
MILB Video - Title: Mejia plates two - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2494637683
The Bulls finally got on the board in the fifth inning. Brandon Synder opened the frame with a single, snapping a stretch of nine straight retired by Memphis starter Kevin Herget, and then scored Durham's first run on Jason Coats' double down the third-base line.
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In the sixth, it was none other than Mejia who once again came up with a big hit -- this time lacing the ball over Austin Meadows' head in center field for a two-run double. In delivering his fourth hit in as many at-bats, Mejia also capitalized on a Durham infield error and a walk to begin the inning.
Durham chipped away at the Redbirds' lead with a three-spot bottom half of the sixth, scoring runs on hits by Meadows and Coats and also on a Synder sacrifice fly.
Memphis padded its lead with four runs on five hits, while sending eight batters to the plate, in the eighth. Mejia recorded his fifth RBI of the game in the frame thanks to his fifth hit, while Thomas pushed his RBI total to five with a booming three-run home run to left field.
MILB Video - Title: Mejia's fifth hit - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2494687083
Herget, 27, earned the win after he allowed two runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four and did not issue a walk, throwing 49 of 76 pitches for strikes.
"My approach throughout the year has been kind of the same," Herget said. "I don't really look too much at the hitters, I just execute my game plan and, obviously, make adjustments throughout the game as I see it."
Cardinals No. 13 prospect Genesis Cabrera -- acquired along with Williams in the deal for Pham -- Chris Ellis and Giovanny Gallegos (No. 22) combined to complete the final three innings, with Gallegos recording a ground-ball double play in the ninth to secure the victory.
Although the Redbirds' offense was led by Mejia, Thomas also finished with five RBIs, and both he and Arozarena recorded three hits and scored two runs apiece.
Memphis won its second straight Pacific Coast League title this year by defeating Fresno in the best-of-5 championship series, 3-1. In 2017, the Redbirds fell to Durham, 5-3, in the Triple-A National Championship.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.