Amarillo, Texas (September 27, 2023) – For the second time in four seasons of playing baseball in Amarillo, the Sod Poodles are Texas League Champions. The Sod Poodles beat the Arkansas Travelers 9-1 on Wednesday night to secure the first championship at HODGETOWN. The Sod Poodles jumped out early in
Amarillo, Texas (September 27, 2023) – For the second time in four seasons of playing baseball in Amarillo, the Sod Poodles are Texas League Champions. The Sod Poodles beat the Arkansas Travelers 9-1 on Wednesday night to secure the first championship at HODGETOWN. The Sod Poodles jumped out early in the winner-take-all final game of the 2023 season and cruised thanks to some dominant pitching, carrying a shutout into the eighth inning.
After getting two scoreless innings on the mound by Conor Grammes, the Sod Poodles jumped out to a lead in the second. Loading the bases with one out following a pair of hit batters sandwiching a single, Camden Duzenack provided flashbacks of 2019. The second Amarillo grand slam in a winner-take-all Texas League Championship Game provided Amarillo with a 4-0 lead. Two more baserunners made their way aboard following the slam with a wild pitch helping to advance both into scoring position. A sacrifice fly and then Amarillo's fourth hit of the inning extended the lead to 6-0 in the second.
Grammes made it three consecutive scoreless innings before trotting back to the mound for the fourth. The right-hander picked up his sixth strikeout of the night to bring an end to the top of the fourth. The Sod Poodles gambled following a one-out double off the bat of Tim Tawa. He was moved to third on a ground out and then tried to swipe home. A throw to the plate nabbed Tawa to keep the seventh run of the game off the board for the Soddies.
Emailin Montilla relieved Grammes after his stellar four innings of work. The southpaw kept the Travs off the scoreboard for the fifth straight inning of the night, leaving a pair of Travs on the bases. Being held in check in the third and fourth, the Soddies were back to their scoring ways in the fifth. Deyvison De Los Santos delivered the seventh run of the night and got to trot around the bases along with Kristian Robinson after the former hit his second home run of the playoffs to make it 9-0.
Montilla worked his second scoreless inning before turning things over to Michel Otanez for the top of the seventh. The Travs were retired once again in order. Following a one-out single in the top of the eighth, Arkansas broke up the shutout with a two-out double to put their lone run of the game on the board before Otanez got the final out of the eighth.
With the Sod Poodles going down in order in the home half of the eighth, Christian Montes De Oca took over on the mound for Amarillo in the top of the ninth.
The right-hander got two flyouts to start the inning before capturing the final out of the season and securing the Sod Poodles' second championship in four seasons with a strikeout to end the game and send the players and Amarillo faithful into celebration.
SLAMDEN DUZENACK: Camden Duzenack hit the second grand slam in a winner-take-all final game of the Championship Series in Sod Poodles history. It was deja vu of Taylor Trammell's go-ahead slam to right field in the top of the ninth inning against Tulsa in 2019. It was the seventh grand slam of the season for Amarillo and Duzenack's second of the 2023 campaign. He joins A.J. Vukovich and Eduardo Diaz as the third player to ever hit multiple grand slams in the same season for Amarillo. It was the second straight game with a home run for Duzenack after leading off Game 2 of the Championship Series with a solo shot. He homered in consecutive games to end the year and it was the second time this year doing so, with his last coming on September 2-3 against Midland.
CALL YOUR GRAM: Conor Grammes made the most of his seventh and final start of the year for Amarillo. The right-hander went four innings, allowing just one hit, and struck out six Arkansas hitters. In the process, he set a new season-high for innings pitched, besting his previous high of 3.1 while also setting a new high in strikeouts. His previous mark in the category was five, doing so twice during the regular season.
BOHEMIAN BLAST: Kristian Robinson, the D-backs' no. 11-rated prospect, hit his second home run of the playoffs and his fourth overall since arriving in Amarillo. Robinson, who joined the Sod Poodles for the final series of the regular season hit .314 (11-for-35) with two doubles, four home runs, and 13 RBI in 11 games in his first brief stint in Double-A.
BACKS AGAINST THE WALL: With the Championship win, Amarillo has improved to 8-0 in the brief history of the team in elimination games during the postseason. Wednesday was the first win at home for Amarillo in an elimination game, winning the first seven in postseason history on the road.