The minor league season came to an end yesterday as the Bowling Green HotRods beat the Peoria Chiefs in the fourth game of the Midwest League championship series. Here is an overview of the winners of each affiliated minor league.
Both in the International League and the Pacific Coast League last year’s champions repeated.
In the IL the championship series between the Durham Bulls and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders was moved to Scranton as Durham was near the path of hurricane Florence. The RailRiders could not take advantage of their home field advantage and fell to the Bulls in five games. In the fifth and decisive game, the RailRiders did not stand a chance as they scored only two runs and the Bulls scored six. With this victory, the Durham Bulls repeat as International League champions and win their sixth overall IL pennant.
Pacific Coast League
In the PCL there was a similar scenario. Last year’s champions, the Memphis Redbirds bested the Fresno Grizzlies, who announced the other day they will have a new parent club in 2019, 3-1 for their second championship in a row.
In the fourth game, the Redbirds were vastly superior as they won 5-0 and outhit their opponent 11-4. This PCL pennant is their fourth overall.
The New Hampshire FisherCats swept their way to their third Eastern League championship by beating the Akron RubberDucks 8-5 in the third game. In the three games, the FisherCats outscored its opponent 17-7. For New Hampshire, it was the first title since 2011.
With their imminent future in Jackson up in the air, the Jackson Generals beat the Biloxi Shuckers three games to one to win their third overall Southern League championship. Two years ago, the Generals swept the Mississippi Braves and in 2000, the team, then named West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, beat the six-time SL champions Jacksonville Suns.
The San Antonio Missions ended their Texas League era with a spot in the championship series. Unfortunately for them, they were swept by the Tulsa Drillers in the best-of-five series. The Drillers swept their way to their fourth overall championship (1982, 1988, 1998 and 2018). In their championship game, the Drillers were much more efficient at bat. Both teams collected ten hits but the Drillers scored five times and the Missions just twice.
The Dodgers’ farm teams were rather successful this season. Next to their AA farm team(Tulsa Drillers), their A-Advanced team, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes managed to clinch the pennant of its league. Also, the Quakes swept its way to the California League championship by beating the Visalia Rawhide 9-1 in their championship game, outhitting their opponent 11-2. In the three games the series lasted, the Quakes outscored its opponent 23-8.
From the California League to the Carolina League. One of the teams that played in the California League two years ago, the Bakersfield Blaze, won the pennant of the Carolina League this year. After the move East, the Blaze adopted the Buies Creek Astros moniker for two years. Next season, the team will move to a brand new stadium in Fayetteville. Due to the upcoming hurricane Florence, the championship series of the Carolina League was shortened to one “winner-take-all” game. In a game in which the Potomac Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the fifth, the Astros tied it in the eighth. Eventually, extra innings had to provide a solution. In the eleventh frame, a sac fly drove in the winning run for the Astros as the club finished its two-year stand at Buies Creek by capturing the Mills Cup.
Florida State League
The Fort Myers Miracle beat the Daytona Tortugas to win its second championship under the current moniker. The Miracle needed four games of this best-of-five series to clinch the pennant. In the 1970s the team got titles on wholesale as it won four titles (1970, 1971, 1972, 1978) as the Miami Marlins and Miami Orioles.
A Full Season
In four games, the Bowling Green HotRods clinched their first ever Midwest League title as it beat the Peoria Chiefs 3-1. In four games, the HotRods outscored the Chiefs 18-5. It was Bowling Green’s first title since the HotRods came to town in 2009. In total, the team made the playoffs thrice. Once in the South Atlantic League and twice in the Midwest League.
South Atlantic League
For the first time since 2001, the Lexington Legends won the Sally League pennant. But in 2001, the team even didn’t have to play for the championship as the championship series was canceled in wake of 9/11 and both finalists were declared co-champions. This year the Legends beat the Lakewood BlueClaws 3-1. The championship game was tied at one as it went into the ninth but eventually, a sac fly to right field drove in the winning run for the Legends.
A Short Season
New York-Penn League
Another team that swept its way to the pennant. The Tri-City ValleyCats beat the Hudson Valley Renegades but they needed twelve innings in the championship game to clinch the championship. The ValleyCats took a 4-2 lead in the top of the twelfth inning and it looked like they would finish the game quickly as the team recorded two quick outs. Three consecutive walks loaded the bases but eventually a fly out to center field handed the ValleyCats their third New York-Penn League championship.
The Hillsboro Hops were the clear favorites to win the pennant this year as the team won the first half and the second half of the South Division. But an unlikely team won it all in an unlikely way. The Eugene Emeralds that made the semis vs the Hillsboro Hops, trailing them in the standings with fourteen games under .500, surprisingly swept the Hops. In the championship series, the Ems swept the Spokane Indians but did this in unlikely fashion. Leading the series 2-0, the team trailed the Indians 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth. After the Emeralds tied the game on a bases-loaded walk, the winning run was scored on a bases-loaded balk (!).
Another team that gets its titles on wholesale is the Elizabethton Twins as it beats the Princeton Rays in sweeping fashion 2-0. This year’s Appalachian League championship is the club’s twelfth and its second in a row. Previous championships were won in 1978, 1984, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2017.
Another Sweep for a championship as the Great Falls Voyagers beat the Grand Junction Rockies 6-4 in the championship game, getting a decisive 2-0 lead in games for their 13th overall championship. Three of the thirteen championships were clinched under the Voyagers moniker (2018, 2011 and 2008). The other championships were won as Great Falls Dodges (2002, 1990, 1989 and 1988), as Great Falls Giants (1976, 1975 and 1971) and as Great Falls Electrics (1961, 1954 and 1951).