A rain delay couldn't cancel the Midland RockHounds' meeting with destiny. After a three hour and three minute rain delay, the RockHounds -- behind a brilliant outing from starter James Naile -- clinched their third straight Texas League title with a 4-1 win over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The RockHounds are the first Texas League team in 91 years to win three straight titles.
The RockHounds had a chance to clinch the title on Thursday night, but they ran into a pitching buzzsaw in a 4-0 loss. It didn't take long for the RockHounds offense to answer the bell on Friday, however. In the top of the second, Viosergy Rosa -- whose two-out, walk-off grandslam in Game Three of the semi-final turned around that series -- led-off the inning with a solo homer. With two-outs, Richie Martin and Brett Vertigan hit back-to-back doubles to stretch the lead to 2-0. Max Schrock followed with an RBI single and Midland had a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Naile soon made the 3-0 lead seem like 10-0, as he dominated his way through six shutout innings. The A's 2015 20th-round pick allowed just two hits and two walks in his six innings. He struck-out four.
Naile left the game with a 4-0 lead after Tyler Marincov -- who had a monster post-season -- hit a solo homerun in the fifth. Kyle Finnegan took over in the seventh inning and he allowed a hit and two walks before being relieved by Trey Cochran-Gill. Cochran-Gill played magician, allowing only one of his three inherited runners to score. He then threw a scoreless eighth to set the table for closer Jake Sanchez.
Sanchez made quick work of the Naturals in the ninth. After retiring the lead-off batter on a groundout, Sanchez struck-out the next two batters to save the game and clinch the title. Sanchez recorded saves in all three Midland wins in the finals.
Marincov, Martin, Yairo Munoz and Schrock all had two-hit games. Marincov finished the post-season with a .438 average. Munoz (.387), Martin (.320) and Vertigan (.343) all had standout post-seasons. Manager Ryan Christenson earns his second league title. He has led A's affiliates to the post-season in all four seasons he has managed in the A's system.