Triple-A teams go off for 14 runs in ninth inning of 31-run barnburner

April 1st, 2024

Minor League games are known for the strange, remarkable and wacky, but some games even exceed those espectations.

Enter the El Paso Chihuahuas and Albuquerque Isotopes.

On Sunday afternoon, the Padres and Rockies affiliates were engaged in an average, relatively high-scoring Pacific Coast League game before busting out for a combined 14 runs in the final frame of an eventual 16-15 Chihuahuas win at Isotopes Park.

All told, there were 33 hits (17 for extra bases) and another 12 walks between the two teams. Five different hitters had three or more hits. The glut of scoring required 14 hurlers to throw a combined 354 pitches. All of that added up to the highest-scoring PCL game since July 30, 2023, when the same Isotopes hosted the Sacramento River Cats.

It's worth noting that Isotopes Park, which sits at 5,100 feet above sea level, is known to be one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in professional baseball, and the game featured winds over 20 mph going out. But that didn't make the details of the comeback any less remarkable.

The game started quietly enough with only four total runs scored through the first four frames. But after the teams combined to score in seven of the next eight half-innings, the Chihuahuas entered the ninth trailing, 9-8.

Padres farmhands Óscar Mercado and Cal Mitchell led off the ninth with triples before Kevin Plawecki plated a run on a sacrifice fly. Five straight batters reached on a double, HBP, walk, single and walk before first baseman Brett Sullivan cleared the bases with his first grand slam in seven years.

Suddenly down seven runs, Albuquerque made two quick outs in the bottom of the frame before mounting its own rally. Following a single, an error and a double, new Rockies acquisition Greg Jones was initially called out on a 3-2 pitch to end the game, but he successfully challenged it to work a walk (the eighth and final overturn of the game). Sean Bouchard knocked in two runners on a double, and Jordan Beck (COL No. 4/MLB No. 78) pulled the Isotopes within one on his second homer of the season.

El Paso brought in lefty reliever Austin Davis to face cleanup hitter Sam Hilliard, and he ended the game on a low-and-away cutter for strike three.

Despite all of the scoring and chaos and pitching changes, the game was over in a mere 3 hours and 12 minutes -- just eight minutes slower than the average MLB game before the institution of the pitch clock.