Memphis, TN – The Memphis Redbirds scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the Nashville Sounds to a heart-breaking 7-6 loss Thursday night at AutoZone Park.
Armed with a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, the Sounds were three outs away from clinching the American Southern Division title after Round Rock defeated New Orleans.
The celebration was put on hold when Memphis center fielder Harrison Bader drilled a game-tying solo home run off Sounds reliever Aaron Kurcz to level the score at 6-6.Kurcz retired Matt Williams on a fly out before allowing a double to Breyvic Valera on a ball that glanced off the glove of right fielder Rangel Ravelo. Nick Martini drew a walk, but Kurcz came back to strike out Efren Navarro for the second out.
With two outs and runners at first and second, Jose Martinez hit a hard ground ball up the middle. Joey Wendle made a diving stop, popped up and fired to first. The throw was low and kicked past first baseman Matt Olson allowing Valera to score the winning run from second.
It was a back-and-forth game as the Redbirds jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings.
The Sounds battled back when Olson crushed a two-run homer in the third. In the sixth, Josh Rodriguez drew a bases loaded walk to even the game at 3-3. One batter later, Jaycob Brugman lifted a sacrifice fly deep enough to score Ravelo.
With a 4-3 lead, Olson’s big night continued with a double in the seventh. Matt Chapman followed with an opposite-field two-run blast to give the Sounds a 6-3 lead. Olson and Chapman combined for four extra-base hits, four RBI and four runs scored.
Memphis didn’t go away and scored a run in the seventh, a run in the eighth and the pair of runs in the ninth to win it.
Matt Williams drilled a solo homer off Angel Castro in the seventh, and Navarro plated a run with a base hit up the middle in the eighth.
The Sounds can clinch the American Southern Division with a win in Friday night’s game or a New Orleans loss to Round Rock.
Game three of the five-game series is scheduled for Friday night at AutoZone Park. Right-hander Jharel Cotton (10-6, 4.61) starts for the Sounds against right-hander Mike Mayers (4-6, 3.20) for the Redbirds. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.
Tickets for the 2016 Pacific Coast League playoff dates at First Tennessee Park are now available for purchase at the Nashville Sounds box office and online at www.nashvillesounds.com
The 2016 season is the Sounds’ 19th year in the Pacific Coast League and their second as the Oakland Athletics’ top affiliate.