Astros: Round Rock wins conference, advances to PCL Championship
The Astros Triple-A affiliate Round Rock Express won their playoff series to advance to the PCL Championship series.
After winning their division, the Astros Triple-A affiliate Round Rock Express defeated the Iowa Cubs three games to two in the best-of-five Pacific Coast League semifinals. The win makes the Express the winners of the PCL’s American Conference and advanced them to the PCL Championship series.
The series featured several dramatic games, as the first four were all decided by one run. Round Rock won the first two games at home in extra-inning walk-off fashion. Game One went 11 innings, with the Express scoring three runs to erase a two-run deficit. Outfielder Chas McCormick hit the walk-off two-run single.
Game Two went 10 innings and was a 4-3 victory. First baseman Taylor Jones hit the game-winning single in that affair. Iowa responded to win Games Three and Four at home, and Game Four also went 11 innings.
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The decisive Game Five was a 10-5 victory for Round Rock on the road. Astros top prospect Forrest Whitley started the game but struggled, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits and five walks in four innings. Ryan Hartman gave up just one run over the remaining five innings as the Express offense belted three homers to capture the victory.
Round Rock advances to face the Sacramento River Cats, the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A club, for the PCL Championship. The best-of-five series takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday with two games at Sacramento, and the remaining three (if necessary) coming Friday through Sunday at Round Rock.
Starting pitcher Kent Emanuel took the ball in Game One and went 6.1 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts. The left-hander had to settle for a no-decision, but his was a start the team will take any day.
Outfielder Chas McCormick tallied eight hits in the five-game series, including the walk-off in Game One. He hit .348 as the team’s leadoff hitter this series, helping set the table for the rest of the offense.
Fellow outfielder Drew Ferguson notched six hits, including a pair of homers, and drove in six runs in the series. He also drew four walks and scored six times. That gives him an OPS of 1.049 for the series.
Infielder Alex De Goti led the team in OPS this series with a stellar 1.271 mark. He hit safely in all five games and drew six walks while hitting .412 with one homer and three RBIs.
Left-hander Ryan Hartman tossed the final five innings in relief in Game Five, allowing just one run on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts. He picked up after Whitley’s shaky start and helped seal the series win for the Express.