Houston Astros Minor League Recap (9/12): We Have a Winner

Ryan Dunsmore

Tri-City wins their second NYPL title in four years, Quad Cities takes a commanding 2-0 series lead back to Davenport, and the ghost of Andrew Aplin's 11th-inning catch in game five of the Cal League South Division finals whispers its last hurrah.

Six Astros affiliates made it to the postseason. Six!

Oklahoma City was swept. Corpus Christi and Lancaster failed to get out of their respective first series. Greeneville made it to the finals, where they were swept. All that were left were the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Tri-City ValleyCats.

Both won on Thursday. Let's get that out of the way now. Quad Cities takes a commanding 2-0 lead with them as they head home to finish up the series. A win in any of the three remaining games clinches the Midwest League title.

Tri-City's win in a deciding game three clinches the New York-Penn League championship. Out of six, there could be two. There's definitely one.

An Ode to Andrew Aplin

There was no minor league recap yesterday, which was a bummer, especially after the 15-inning marathon in Lancaster. As you all no doubt know, Lancaster was knocked out of the playoffs with a 4-3 loss. Their season is over.

Their season would've been over a little earlier, had it not been for an amazing catch by Andrew Aplin in the top of the eleventh inning. With Angel Rosa at first base, Brian Hernandez lifted a Michael Dimock pitch into the gap. Andrew Aplin made a terrific running catch to control the threat. It's something we've seen (or heard) him do time and time again this season.

Many of you don't get to watch the Jethawks play. I do. And with that in mind, I penned a poem for Andrew Aplin's catch. I turned to our graphics guru, d_more55, for help with the photo below. I'll let you guess which parts he was responsible for (hint: it's all of the awesome parts):

"Andrew Aplin Made a Catch"

an original poem
by
Anthony Boyer

Superman_medium

I look forward to a day in the not-so-distant future
when men pull their trucks to the side of Interstate 10.

They'll reach for the radio dial, their hands trembling,
pulling their families close to them
resting their chins on their children's heads
and saying in hushed tones,
"Child, I know you're hungry and I know you're scared,
but everything will be fine.
Andrew Aplin will save us."

From Hitchcock to Spring, Houstonians will stare
at their televisions in gape-jawed amazement.

The youngest will lay in their beds, dreaming of the day
when Andrew Aplin will show up at their door,
his cape caught in a gust of wind,
all-too-perfectly timed,
and as they close their eyes and they say their prayers, they'll say,
"God, thank you for blessing us
with food to eat and water to drink
and Andrew Aplin to keep us safe at night."

And Andrew Aplin, though once a Devil of the Sun
in a strange world called Arizona,
will rally the people of Houston and keep them safe
from game-winning runs and doubles in the gap.

When they're tired, he'll carry them on his shoulders,
one set of footprints in the sand.

And every night, from San Antonio to Beaumont,
the people will sleep soundly,
knowing that with Andrew Aplin on patrol,
no harm can ever come to them again.

Though they may hang a curve
or catch too much plate on a fastball,
they'll know they can breathe.
They can live.
They can love.
They can rest knowing Aplin is on the case.

Andrew Aplin will save them, when they can't save themselves.

Quad Cities River Bandits 5, South Bend Silver Hawks 0

Quad Cities leads, 2-0

Rio Ruiz is on cruise control. The Astros' 4th-round draft pick in 2012 - and #14 prospect with a bullet - has been downright incredible in the postseason for Quad Cities, and game two of the Midwest League championship series was no different, as his 2-for-4 performance with 2 doubles and an RBI led the River Bandits offense to a 5-0 victory over the South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI).

Quad Cities' offense got off to a booming start when Bobby Borchering - himself a former Silver Hawk in 2010, while he was in the Arizona system - homered off of South Bend's Blake Perry in the second inning.

Borchering would score again in the fourth inning. Danry Vasquez walked with one out in the inning, coming around to score - one base at a time - on three consecutive wild pitches by Perry. Borchering also walked and came around to score on Ruiz's first double of the game. Ruiz would steal third base and come in to score on a squeeze play by Jordan Scott, giving Quad Cities a 4-0 advantage.

Meanwhile, Joe Bircher was able to keep the Silver Hawks off the board, despite allowing five hits and two walks through five innings, striking out just two. Jamaine Cotton pitched three perfect innings in relief, striking out six and allowing just one ball out of the infield.

Game three will start tomorrow, September 14, at 7:00 PM CT, at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport.

  • 2B Tony Kemp - 1/4, K
  • CF Teoscar Hernandez - 1/3, 2B, BB, K
  • SS Carlos Correa - 0/4, K
  • LF Danry Vasquez - 0/3, R, BB
  • 1B Bobby Borchering - 1/3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB, K
  • 3B Rio Ruiz - 2/4, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI, K, SB
  • C Roberto Pena - 2/3, RBI, BB, SB
  • RF Jordan Scott - 0/3, RBI
  • DH Brian Blasik - 1/4, 2B
  • LHP Joe Bircher - 5.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Jamaine Cotton - 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
  • LHP J.D. Osborne - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, WP, HBP

Tri-City ValleyCats 4, State College Spikes 3

Tri-City wins the New York-Penn League championship

The game didn't start pretty for the ValleyCats, and it didn't end pretty for the ValleyCats, but like they seem to have done through the entire season, they found a way to get it done, pulling out a 4-3 nailbiter against the State College Spikes (PIT) in the deciding game three of the New York-Penn League finals.

State College got the scoring started in the fourth inning. David Washington led off the inning with a single off of starter Kyle Westwood, advancing on each of two consecutive groundouts. With the runner on third and two outs, Mason Katz singled to centerfield to bring Washington home and put the Spikes up 1-0.

Meanwhile, Tri-City's offense got off to a sluggish start, with just two singles to their name through the first five innings. But the sixth inning, manager Ed Romero decided to get creative.

After Ronnie Mitchell reached on a bunt single, Romero must have decided that he liked the idea, and called a sacrifice bunt for Chan Moon, advancing Mitchell to second. Moon himself also reached on the play. They would both move up another base on a sacrifice bunt by James Ramsay. With an out and men on second and third, Jack Mayfield came through in the clutch, singling home Ramsay.

That's when the inning got out of control, with Victor De Leon playing the role of Blake Perry.

The first of two consecutive wild pitches scored scored Moon to give the ValleyCats the lead, and the second moved Mayfield to third base. Successive walks to Tyler White and Conrad Gregor loaded the bases for Brian Holberton, who could only hit into a groundout, scoring another run. It would be the last run the ValleyCats would score in the inning - and in the game.

State College made things interesting late. After Chris Munnelly walked the leadoff man in the eighth inning, Gonzalo Sanudo came on in search of a six-out save. A line drive single by Luke Voit put runners at the corners with one out, but Sanudo was able to escape the inning unscathed.

He wouldn't be so lucky in the ninth.

Michael Schulze began the ninth inning with a line drive single to left field off of Sanudo, and Mason Katz followed with a two-run home run. Luis Perez singled to give the Spikes the tying run on base with no outs.

State College pulled a play out of the Ed Romero playbook, sacrificing Perez to second base. With the game-tying run in scoring position and just one out, Romero stuck with Sanudo on the mound, and Sanudo rewarded his confidence, retiring the final two batters on swinging strikeouts.

The win clinched Tri-City's second NYPL championship in four seasons, and marks the third time they've reached the final series in that time.

  • CF James Ramsay - 0/3
  • 2B Jack Mayfield - 2/4, R, RBI, K
  • 3B Tyler White - 0/3, R, BB
  • 1B Conrad Gregor - 0/3, BB
  • DH Brian Holberton - 0/4, RBI, 2 K
  • C Brett Booth - 2/4
  • LF Jon Kemmer - 1/4
  • RF Ronnie Mitchell - 1/4, R, K
  • SS Chan Moon - 0/1, R, BB, K
  • RHP Kyle Westwood - 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
  • RHP Chris Munnelly - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Gonzalo Sanudo - 2.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

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