COLORADO SPRINGS -- The Milwaukee Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate survived a near-collapse to move within one win of a Pacific Coast League championship series berth.
The Colorado Springs Sky Sox overcame two high-scoring innings by visiting Memphis to squeak out a 16-15 victory that gave the hosts a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five American Conference playoff series.
The teams combined for 35 hits, but Memphis’ three errors and two wild pitches over the final four innings gave the home team just enough of a cushion to send most of the 3,614 fans at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs home relieved.
Reliever Rob Scahill gave up a two-out solo home run to Adolis Garcia that made it 16-15 but forced Patrick Wisdom to fly out for the save in a game that featured 13 pitchers (eight Sox).
The Redbirds scored five in the second to take an early 5-0 lead and recorded seven runs in the eighth inning to cut a 16-7 Colorado Springs lead to 16-14 and keep the fans on edge until the final out.
The contest was the longest Sky Sox playoff game at 3 hours, 45 minutes (old record 3 hours, 24 minutes, Sept. 10-11, 1994 at Albuquerque). The 31 runs scored surpassed the old playoff mark of 24 (9/13/92, 23-1 win vs Las Vegas).
Game 4 Saturday is at 5 p.m. Central.
Things began to unravel for the pitchers after Memphis starter Ryan Helsley (0-1) left with a 5-4 lead, but with no outs and two base runners on in the fifth inning. Reliever Josh Zeid struggled. He soon uncorked a wild pitch that bounced into the third-base coach’s box and the game was tied at 5-5.
That set up Chris Colabello for an RBI single (five RBIs on night) to make it 6-5, Sky Sox and put the hosts ahead for good. Colorado Springs would later lead 10-5 and 16-7 but could not shut down the Redbirds. Reliever Tristan Archer (two innings, no runs) picked up the win.
The Sky Sox have won the PCL championship twice (1992, 1995). .... Their last championship appearance was in 1995 and the last postseason berth was 1997. … Wednesday starter Aaron Wilkerson’s seven no-hit innings (one walk, 11 Ks) paced the franchise’s first postseason shutout win. The 11 strikeouts tied a team record. … The Sky Sox finished the regular season with a 4.52 staff ERA, good for sixth-best in the PCL. That was the first time the Sky Sox finished higher than 11th since the PCL expansion to 16 teams in 1998.