Heading into the ninth inning Sunday, the Gulf Coast League Phillies had a comfy 4-0 lead. When all was said and done, they had to hang on to record a 4-3 win over the Braves, getting the final out of the game with the tying run on first.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Phillies took a quick 2-0 lead after Mickey Moniak was hit by a pitch with two outs and Danny Zardon followed with a two-run home run. Zardon hit just one home run during the regular season.
The lead doubled in the bottom of the fifth against reliever Bryse Wilson, who gave up a leadoff single to Daniel Brito, followed by a Josh Stephen single and a double by Moniak to plate Brito. Malvin Matos drove home Stephen and moved Moniak to third with a base-hit of his own, but Wilson bounced back to get the final two outs of the inning without giving up another run.
On the mound, Sixto Sanchez cruised through seven shutout innings, giving up four hits and striking out four without allowing a walk. Randy Alcantara followed with a shutout inning of his own, before the usually dependable Tyler Frohwirth, who gave up a base-hit, a walk and issued a wild pitch to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Frohwirth struck out Alex Aquino, but Anthony Concepcion followed with a home run to left to make it 4-3. Jose Nin relieved Frohwirth and struck out Griffin Benson, before walking William Contreras. With Sander Boeldak taking first as a pinch-runner, Nin responded by getting Shean Michel to ground out to second for the final out of the game.
Sanchez was credited with the win, while Nin picked up the save.
Brito and Stephen both picked up two hits in the game.
The Phillies will now face the GCL Cardinals in a best-of-three series to determine the GCL Championship. The Cardinals beat the Red Sox 6-2 Sunday to advance to the championship. The series begins Monday in Jupiter, Florida, the home of the Cardinals, before games two and three, if necessary, would be played in Clearwater.