Tigers' Double-A affiliate wins its first championship

September 27th, 2023

Last season was bittersweet for Detroit's Double-A affiliate. The Erie SeaWolves made it to the Eastern League Championship Series, but were no-hit in a winner-take-all Game 3 15-0 loss to the Somerset Patriots.

This season was a completely different story. Erie won all four of its playoff games, capping the run with a 10-0 victory Tuesday to secure the first title in the club's history.

“This was a special team,” SeaWolves manager Gabe Alvarez said. “It’s a team that likes to compete, that likes to fight, that doesn’t like to lose, and we’ve shown that all year.”

A prime example of that toughness came during Sunday's Finals opener. Erie went down 3-0 early and fought back to take a 6-3 lead. Binghamton tied the game in the sixth, but the SeaWolves bounced back once again, winning 9-6.

In Game 2 at UPMC Park, there was no need for a comeback. Erie starting pitcher shut down the Binghamton offense, fanning seven in seven scoreless innings. The No. 12 Tigers prospect held a potent Rumble Ponies lineup featuring four of the top five Mets prospects -- Luisangel Acuña (MLB No. 38), Drew Gilbert (MLB No. 52), Jett Williams (MLB No. 78) and Kevin Parada (MLB No. 89) -- to just three hits.

“We’re fortunate enough to have two aces on the team in Brant Hurter and Ty Madden. Brant went out there today and pitched like an ace,” Alvarez said. “To give us seven shutout innings is unbelievable and such a clutch performance. This is why he’s going to be a big leaguer for a long time.”

Perhaps even more impressively, Hurter’s batterymate, , was playing in just his sixth game with the club. The Venezuela native spent most of the season in High-A before taking over for catcher Julio E. Rodriguez, who was injured on Sept. 17.

“He had two Double-A games under his belt and caught four straight wins in the playoffs and called just tremendous games,” Alvarez said. “His dedication to learning the pitchers in such a short time and going over the scouting reports and sticking to game planning, he’s the reason we won.”

Offensively, Jake Holton led the way for the SeaWolves. After clubbing a homer in Game 1, he delivered two more and plated three runs in Game 2.

“He’s been tremendous,” Alvarez said. “All year he’s come up with huge hits and the first home run tonight to get us on the board was huge.”

Gage Workman also left the yard for Erie in the eighth.

“There were a lot of guys on the team that were here with me last year,” Alvarez said. “All day long, we were saying, ‘We’ve been in this position before, winning the first game of the Finals,’ but this year was a lot different.”