Amarillo takes the Texas League title from Tulsa in dramatic fashion

Credit: John Moore/ Sod Poodles

The Amarillo Sod Poodles receive the trophy after defeating the Tulsa Drillers during the Texas League Championship on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, at OneOK Field in Tulsa, Oklahoma. [Photo by John Moore/Amarillo Sod Poodles]
Amarillo’s inaugural season ends in storybook fashion.

The Sod Poodles found themselves after Friday’s loss in a spot that they have been in a lot lately- behind in the series.

Amarillo was in a win or go home situation in a total of five games in the postseason. They fell 0-2 to the Midland Rockhounds in the semi-finals only to come back and win three straight. After taking game one in the Championship Series, they lost game two against the Dodger affiliated Tulsa Drillers. A comeback would be needed, and that is what happened. 

In the top of the ninth, Amarillo worked two walks that were followed by a perfectly placed bunt by infielder Peter Van Gansen, loading the bases in a 3-1 game in favor of Tulsa.

Taylor Trammell who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds at the deadline for Logan Allen, Franmil Reyes, and Victor Nova was up to bat with a chance to make history. Trammell found himself in the biggest spot of the season with no outs in the ninth and Tulsa Drillers reliever Nolan Long on the mound.

The Tulsa reliever had not allowed a run in his last ten appearances coming into the at-bat and jumped ahead of Trammell 0-2 after a second strike call Trammell didn’t care for. Trammell proceeded to do what he had done since arriving in Amarillo and work the count before taking a 2-2 pitch from Long over the head of Tulsa right fielder Donovan Casey, into the Tulsa bullpen. 

The grand slam gave Amarillo it’s first lead of the night. The Soddies got a gutsy performance from starter Aaron Leasher- who had spent no time with the club before August 31. The lefty tossed four innings of scoreless ball allowing two hits. He departed with the game locked at 0-0.

Lake Bachar who was the complete opposite of Leasher in terms of tenure with the club tossed three innings of work. He allowed the Drillers three runs, all coming from the bat of Dodgers’ #6 Prospect Jeter Downs. Bachar still managed to get through three innings to get it to Evan Miller. The Sod Poodles reliever would set the table for the ninth inning by tossing a scoreless eighth keeping the score at 3-1. Amarillo got there only run outside of the ninth inning after Tulsa walked in a run to put Amarillo on the board in the top half of the eighth inning. Sod Poodles catcher Luis Torrens drew ball four with the bases loaded.

Trammell’s clutch grand slam was his second of the series after crushing a ball in game one at Hodgetown. That home run made it a 5-3 Amarillo lead, but the Sod Poodles weren’t quite done just yet, as Hudson Potts would launch a first-pitch three-run shot of his own in the ninth to give his team a little breathing room. As the inning ended manager Phillip Wellman gave the ball to Travis Radke after the reliever pitched 2 1/3 innings of high leverage baseball the night before recording seven outs on just 16 pitches.

Radke did what he had done all season and delivered, striking out Tulsa outfielder Drew Avens on a called strike three for the third out to clinch the title for Amarillo in their inaugural season. For a team that loved to be doubted and thrived under pressure from day one, there couldn’t be a more fitting ending to their season. As Sod Poodles announcer Sam Levitt put it “A first season you’ll remember forever! The Amarillo Sod Poodles are TEXAS LEAGUE CHAMPIONS!”

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