Chihuahuas rally in the eighth to win game one

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Chihuahuas rally in the eighth to win game one

Javier Cortez, Web Editor

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The crowd was small and the deficit was large, two indicators of a less than positive night at Southwest University Park. But, the crowd was loud, the lead was short-lived, and as always the men in red and white made a game of it.

Spotting the Oklahoma City Dodgers five runs, the El Paso Chihuahuas put together another thrilling late-game rally. Scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to win game one of the PCL Championship Series 7-5.

First basemen Diego Goris tied the game with a RBI single, followed by a Nick Noonan shallow fly ball to score Patrick Kivlehan from third.

The Chihuahuas scored another run on a wild pitch to cushion their lead. At the conclusion of the inning, the 5,011 in attendance gave the team a standing ovation.

Phil Maton came on to close the show in the ninth and the rest was history.

“It was a great win tonight,” said Chihuahuas second baseman Carlos Asuaje. “It was an awesome experience.”

Infamous for their slow starts, the Chihuahuas spotted the Dodgers five runs in the first two innings, four coming in the first inning alone.

Usually down, but never out, the Chihuahuas responded with four runs in the third inning.  Carlos Asuaje drove in three runs with a RBI double to cut the Dodger lead to one. The PCL Rookie of the Year caught a fastball in the zone for his only hit of the night, after a myriad of changeups out of the zone

In the fifth inning, Manuel Margot seemed primed to tie the game up after a triple to left-center. The center fielder tried to steal home on a dribbler back to the pitcher, but the speedster was tagged out well ahead of home plate.

The Margot attempt was the closest any team would get to scoring over the next four innings, before the Chihuahuas eighth inning rally. Just as the offense slowed up, the bullpen found their mark. Once starting pitcher Walker Lockett left the game, the Chihuahuas bullpen, consisting of Kyle McGrath, Derek Eitel, and Phil Maton, pitched 3 2/3 hitless innings.

Aside from the clutch late game hitting, the key to the comeback according to Chihuahuas manager Rod Barajas was the dependability of the bullpen.

“These guys go out there and put up zeros,” Barajas said. “I feel like our bullpen is what’s going to put us over the hump. One after another they’re able to do some special things.”

With the win, the Chihuahuas are in the mathematical driver’s seat. Over the last 35 PCL playoff series, only 29 percent of teams that have lost game one have gone on to win the series.

The Chihuahuas are one of 10 teams to have come back from a 1-0 deficit to win the series. Doing so in the PCL Conference Championships against the Tacoma Rainiers.

“Tomorrow’s game is huge,” Barajas said. “We lost our first game in the last round, but were able to come back and win three (straight). This team (Oklahoma City) is not in the finals for no reason, they can do some good things, so we need to make sure we (focus). Every game is important.”

Game two of the best-of-five championships series starts tomorrow at 6:35 p.m. at Southwest University Park for the last time this season.

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