Baby Bombers 2014 playoff Blog: GCL Yankees1 win, force winner-take-all Game 3 in GCL Finals

09/01/2014 12:49 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Rusney Castillo made his U.S. debut in Sunday's Gulf Coast League final.(AP)
Nine innings on Labor Day will decide the 2014 Gulf Coast League Champions, as the GCL Yankees1 picked up a 6-5 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday to tie the GCL Championship Series at one game apiece and send it back to Tampa for a deciding Game 3.

After both teams scored a run in the third, the Yankees1 used a five-run fifth to sprint out to a big lead, batting around against Red Sox starter Gabe Speier and reliever Jalen Beeks. The big blow was a Thairo Estrada grand slam with two outs off Beeks that put them up, 6-1.

However, the Baby Bombers had to hold off a furious Sox rally in the seventh that cut the deficit back to one, as reliever Deshorn Lake gave up four runs on three singles, a double, a walk, a hit batsman and a wild pitch before giving way to Travis Hissong with one out.

At that point, the Sox had the tying run on second and the go-ahead run on first, but undrafted rookie free-agent righty Hissong was up to the task; he struck out Derek Miller for the second out, and catcher Alvaro Noriega then caught Victor Acosta too far off first, picking him off for the third out.

The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the eighth and looked primed to add to the lead, but Noriega grounded into a double play to kill the rally; no matter, though, as Hissong sent the Sox six up and six down in the final two frames, getting Javier Guerra to ground out to end the game.

Offensively, Estrada had the big blow with his only hit in five at-bats, shortstop Jorge Mateo was 4-for-4 with an RBI, right fielder Alexander Palma was 2-for-4, and Noriega and left fielder Cesar Diaz had the last two of the Baby Bombers' nine hits. 

On the mound, starter Luis Cedeno was effective, allowing one run on three hits and one walk and striking out five in 5 2/3 innings, and after Lake's rough outing (2/3 IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 K) Hissong retired all seven batters he faced -- with the pickoff accounting for his eighth out -- and struck out four to notch the save.

The game was also notable as the stateside debut of recent Red Sox signee Rusney Castillo; the Cuban import led off and slotted in as the DH Sunday, going 1-for-2 before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning.

Game 3 of the Gulf Coast League Championship Series will be played Monday at noon in Tampa, and the end of the day will signal the end of the Minor League season for the Yankees organization; the Tampa Yankees finished their year with a 6-3 loss in Daytona on Sunday, and aside from the GCL finale, Monday also marks the end of the line for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Trenton Thunder, Charleston RiverDogs and Staten Island Yankees, none of whom are post-season bound.

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