Trash Pands beat Montgomery 7-2 to clinch playoff berth

THE SCORE OF THE BOX

By Aaron Cheris

MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas are bound for the playoffs! With a thrilling 7-2 victory over the Montgomery Biscuits on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Field, the Trash Pandas clinched the Southern League North Division title in the first half and will play playoff baseball for the first time in team history.

The win gives the Trash Pandas a spot in the Southern League playoffs, which are slated to begin at the end of the regular season in late September. The win also improves the Trash Pandas’ record to 39-24, 15 games above .500 for the first time in franchise history while closing the first half with an incredible 25-11 record ahead of Trash. Panda Nation at Toyota Field.

The first half of the season belonged to the Trash Pandas. After getting off to a 3-0 start after a sweep at Birmingham to start the season in April, the Trash Pandas led the North Division almost from start to finish, never dropping more than three games from first place in the span of half-time. .

This one fell on the wire. With the score tied 1-1 down the bottom of the seventh, Bryce Teodosio stepped up to the plate with two outs and lifted a fly ball deep on the right. Montgomery right fielder Grant Witherspoon lunged for the wall, but the ball went over his glove and out of the fence. As the ball drifted away from Witherspoon, Teodosio rounded third. Getting the nod from manager Andy Schatzley, Teodosio sprinted home and dove headfirst for a home run inside the park, giving the Trash Pandas a 2-1 lead and sending the dugout into the euphoria.

In the eighth, Rocket City added key insurance runs on an RBI single from Orlando Martinez to score Aaron Whitefield. Preston Palmeiro contributed with his own RBI single. Braxton Martinez put the finishing touches with an imposing three-run homer 420 feet from left center, giving the Trash Pandas a 7-1 lead.

Kolton Ingram finished the victory in the ninth, sparking a wild party on the field and in the clubhouse.

The game didn’t start as well as it ended for the Trash Pandas. Montgomery started the scoring as soon as the second hitter of the game, Curtis Mead, connected on a solo home run to left center field against Trash Pandas starter Chase Silseth for the first inning of the afternoon.

The Trash Pandas recovered the run late in the second on a sacrificial fly by Braxton Martinez to score Zach Humphreys, who reached with a walk.

Silseth responded with a quick one, two, three innings in the third and worked around a one-out walk in the fourth. The fifth was like the third, as Silseth took out the cookies in order. He ended a stellar start by getting a double play to overcome trouble in the sixth. In his second start with the Trash Pandas after returning from his first Major League stint with the Los Angeles Angels, Silseth pitched six innings, allowing one run on three hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.

Luke Murphy was the first out of the bullpen in the seventh and dominated for one, two, three innings, setting the stage for Teodosio’s heroic run around base. Murphy (W, 6-1) would earn his sixth team-leading win of the season with two scoreless relief innings. The home run inside Teodosio’s park was his ninth of the season and came a day after his 23rd birthday. Palmeiro led the way with three hits while Braxton Martinez drove in four of seven runs.

The Trash Pandas (39-24) hit the road for their first-half series with a six-game set against the Birmingham Barons starting Tuesday night. The first pitch at Regions Field is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.

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