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Kings of the South: Sod Poodles Head to Texas League Championship

Sod Poodles Punch Ticket to Texas League Championship
(Joe Alexander)
September 23, 2023

San Antonio, Texas (September 22, 2023) – Behind a brilliant night on the mound by the pitching staff and timely hits by the offense, the 2023 Amarillo Sod Poodles will play for the Texas League Championship. The Sod Poodles earned a 6-3 win in the decisive game three of the

San Antonio, Texas (September 22, 2023) – Behind a brilliant night on the mound by the pitching staff and timely hits by the offense, the 2023 Amarillo Sod Poodles will play for the Texas League Championship. The Sod Poodles earned a 6-3 win in the decisive game three of the South Division Championship Series Friday night in San Antonio.

Getting the spot start for the Sod Poodles, Raffi Vizcaino gave the team three innings, matching his previous season-high for innings for the normal back-end reliever. The right-hander worked around a two-out walk in the first and appeared to be on his way out of the second without a run after allowing a leadoff single. Instead, the Missions scored the first run of the night via a balk before Vizcaino could work through the side. He ended his final inning of work by getting through the Missions in order, allowing just one hit, and one run over his three frames on Friday night.

With the offense being held in check by Missions' starter Adam Mazur the first three trips to the plate, the bats finally woke up in the top of the fourth.

A,J. Vukovich started the rally with a one-out single. The D-backs' no. 10-rated prospect then swiped second and was able to score as Seth Beer tied the game with a double to the left-field corner. Deyvison De Los Santos collected his second hit of the game with a RBI double of his own to give Amarillo the lead. A walk placed runners on the corners with still just one out in the inning as Juan Centeno laid down a sac bunt to score De Los Santos and move Krisitan Robinson into scoring position. However, he would have been able to score from anywhere as Jancarlos Cintron extended the Sod Poodles lead to 4-1 with a RBI triple to cap the big Amarillo fourth inning.

The first batter Conor Grammes faced in the bottom of the inning ended up on second as the Missions added their second hit of the night with a leadoff double. A couple of productive outs later, the Missions were back within two. Grammes picked up his first strikeout of the night to bring an end to the inning and a 4-2 lead. Another leadoff man in the fifth reached for San Antonio, this time via a free pass to start the inning. A sac bunt moved the runner to second with an error putting runners on the corners for Grammes to maneuver. A flyout brought an end to Grammes' 1.2 IP and sent Carlos Meza to the mound. A RBI single inched San Antonio within a run ahead of a walk that moved the potential go-ahead run into scoring position and loaded the bases for the Missions. Meza had other plansm, striking out Nathan Martorealla to leave all three stranded.

Beer was plunked to begin the top of the sixth with a ground out and wild pitch allowing him to move to third. Kristian Robinson added to the lead with a RBI single to give the Sod Poodles a 5-3 cushion to work with.

Michel Otanez and Taylor Rashi combined to retire 10 straight from the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings as the Amarillo hurlers protected the lead.

With two outs in the top of the ninth, Tim Tawa provided the last bit of insurance for Amarillo. Tawa was able to score Cintron who picked up his second extra-base hit of the game earlier in the inning and then swiped third. Tawa laced a hard single into center field to pad the lead before Rashi took the mound in the bottom of the ninth.

An error put the first man aboard for the Missions since the fifth, but an unfazed Rashi proceeded to retire each of the next three. The last on a check-swing strikeout to seal the deal and send the Sod Poodles into a frenzy on the field.

After taking the South, the Sod Poodles will head to Little Rock, Arkansas to face the North Division champs, the Arkansas Travelers (Seattle Mariners) in the Texas League Championship Series. Game one of the Championship Series will take place on Sunday, September 24th with first pitch scheduled for 1:35 p.m. at Dickey Stephens Park. The Sod Poodles will then return home, playing host to the Travs in games two and three (if necessary) beginning on Tuesday, September 26th.


TRES, PORFAVOR: Deyvison De Los Santos ended the South Division Championship series with a three-hit effort, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a RBI. The D-backs' no. 5-rated prospect ended the series against San Antonio hitting .538 (7-for-13) with two doubles, a triple, a home run, and four RBI. De Los Santos ended the regular season hitting .312 over his final 50 games since returning from the All-Star Break and carried it over into the playoffs with multi-hit efforts in all three games against San Antonio.

1 FOR 2: Jancarlos Cintron was second on the club in hits during the Divisional Round, hitting .500 (6-for-12) with a pair of doubles, a triple, and four RBI as well for the Sod Poodles. After ending his 20 games in the regular season hitting .225 (16-for-71) with three triples, Cintron carried a hot bat into the postseason. He ranked second among all full-season minor leaguers in 2022 with his .338 AVG in Triple-A Reno before an injury derailed most of his 2023 season. On Tuesday, Cintron became one of just two Sod Poodles to ever record four hits in a postseason game wearing an Amarillo uniform.

MMMM, BEER: Seth Beer was one of three Sod Poodles to collect a multi-hit effort in the winner-take-all tilt on Friday night, going 2-for-3 with a RBI double, and two runs scored. Beer ended the three-game set hitting .364 (4-for-11) with a double, two home runs, three RBI, and five runs scored. Batting in the five hole on Friday, Beer and the remaining four batters in the Sod Poodles lineup all recorded a RBI. Beer has now recorded 29 multi-hit efforts in total this year in 86 games, with 14 coming over his last 29 games played.

ARM BARN: The combination of Raffi Vizcaino, Conor Grammes, Carlos Meza, Michel Otanez, and Taylor Rashi limited the Missions to the fewest hits ever by Amarillo pitchers in a postseason game for Amarillo. The three total hits allowed by the staff on Friday night was one fewer than the four hits allowed on September 13, a 2-0 shutout loss by the Sod Poodles in game three of the Texas League Championship series against Tulsa in 2019. The three-hitter was the 10th in 2023 by Amarillo pitchers and the 25th overall in team history. Raffi Vizcaino matched his season-high in innings pitched (3.0) while Taylor Rashi made it nine straight games without an earned run allowed. Rashi picked up his second save of the year with Amarillo - first of the playoffs. Working two hitless innings, Michel Otanez made it six straight games without a run allowed. Conor Grammes earned his first win of the playoffs and improved to 6-2 on the year and has allowed just two runs over his last seven innings dating back to September 7th.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Sod Poodles have now made it seven straight road wins in elimination games during the playoffs dating back to the 2019 Championship run. In the inaugural season, Amarillo staved off elimination by winning three straight in Midland during the South Division Championship Series and then took the final two on the road in Tulsa to capture the Texas League Championship in the first year in franchise history. Friday's win made it seven-straight road elimination games the Sod Poodles have won. In such games, Amarillo has outscored their opponents 42-18.