Long-time major league catcher and former Detroit Tigers fan favorite, Brayan Pena, retired this spring. His transition to a career in coaching seems to be going quite well. His Gulf Coast League Tigers club took down the GCL Red Sox on Sunday to advance to the Finals of the Gulf Coast League Championship series. The Tigers won in exciting fashion, walking off the Red Sox in 11 innings. They will do battle with a GCL Cardinals club that beat the GCL Phillies East in the semi-final to advance.
Xavier Javier, a 20-year-old Dominican righthander in his fourth year in the Tigers’ organization, threw a superb game to lead the way. Javier allowed just a hit, a walk, and one unearned run, while mowing through the Red Sox to the tune of 11 strikeouts in six innings of work. His own throwing error, followed later by a wild pitch, scored the Red Sox’s only run, but Javier dominated otherwise.
Maddux Conger struck out the side in both his innings of relief work, but also blew the save, allowing a run on two hits and a walk. Michael Gizzi and Daniel Gonzalez shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way.
Hector Martinez, in the designated hitter slot, and first baseman Justin Childers led the way offensively with two hits each. Childers’ double in the fifth scored Matthew Jurecki to get the Tigers on the board. They plated a second run on a single from shortstop Ildemare Escalona, which gave them the lead before Conger allowed the Red Sox to tie it up and send this to extras. In the 11th, Moises Bello was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom half of the frame. The Tigers spent two outs sacrificing Bello to third, and with Matthew Jurecki at the plate, Bello raced home on a wild pitch from the Red Sox Alberto Franco to win it.
GCL Tigers West and GCL Cardinals will meet up on Monday at noon to kick off the three-game series.