The Fresno Grizzlies are heading back to the playoffs.
Saturday night (Aug. 25), Fresno clinched the PCL Pacific Northern division in dramatic style. Kyle Tucker’s three-run walk-off home run capped off a five-run ninth for the 7-6 win over Salt Lake.
(Watch the homer by clicking on the image above.)
Coincidentally, Tucker’s swing of the bat also clinched the southern division for El Paso.
Now, the Grizzlies and Chihuahuas (the affiliate of the San Diego Padres) face each other in a best-of-five games divisional round, starting Sept. 5 in El Paso. Games 3, 4 and 5 (the latter two if necessary) will be played at Fresno’s Chukchansi Park Sept. 7-9.
A Dramatic Ninth Inning
— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) August 26, 2018
Fresno scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth Saturday to take the game and the division. The inning started Fresno loading the bases for Alex De Goti.
The Miami native singled to center to score one run. Speedster Myles Straw, who is second on the PCL stolen base leaderboard, hit into a force-out that scored a run, closing the gap to 6-4.
That set the dramatic scene for Tucker, the 2015 first-round pick for Houston. He launched Conor Lillis-White’s full-count pitch into the right-field stands, lifting the 9,148 fans into euphoria.
Tucker’s Week of Dramatics
Tucker sandwiched his clinching homer between two other dramatic hits.
On Wednesday (Aug. 22) at Sacramento, Tucker’s ninth-inning grand slam tied the game at 8 apiece. Fresno scored two more to win 10-8.
Sunday night (Aug. 26), Tucker chopped a single over the Salt Lake third baseman’s head in the 10th inning for a 10-9 walk-off win.
The Last Time in the Postseason
This is the third time in franchise history that the Grizzlies have qualified for the PCL playoffs. In the team’s inaugural year in 1998, Fresno won the division as an affiliate of the Giants. They fell in the first round to Calgary.
When the affiliation switched to Houston in 2015, the team won it all, winning the PCL and the Triple-A championships.
Fresno defeated El Paso in the first round, 3-1. The Grizzlies took out Round Rock in the PCL series in five games before defeating International League champion Columbus in a one-game winner-take-all game for the Triple-A title.
Game 1, Sept. 5: Fresno at El Paso, 5:05 p.m.
Game 2, Sept. 6: Fresno at El Paso, 5:05 p.m.
Game 3, Sept. 7: El Paso at Fresno, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4*, Sept. 8: El Paso at Fresno, 7:05 p.m.
Game 5*, Sept. 9: El Paso at Fresno, 5:05 p.m.
*if necessary. All times Pacific.
The winner advances to play the PCL American Conference champion. If Fresno advances, it would host games one and two starting Sept. 11.