It’s been a long chase for the GCL Phillies but after winning Tuesday’s game 5-1 over the GCL Astros, they have finally caught the GCL Yankees1 team for first place in the Northwest division of the Gulf Coast League. The Phillies have gone 13-2 so far this month with eight game still to play in the season including a home and home, two game series with the Yankees1 team on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
Both teams have identical 31-20 records and a league leading .608 winning percent going into the final week of the four team, four division short season rookie league. Only the first place teams in each division make a one game playoff game with the winners playing a three game series for the league championship. The Phillies last won the championship under de Armas back in the 2010 with Maikel Franco at third base.
Manager Roly de Armas has done an outstanding job overcoming constant player movement to bring the squad into contention for a playoff spot.
In Monday’s game, 19 year old left hander Elniery Garcia pitched a gem of a game giving up only two hits and a walk while striking five over six inning to get the win. Luis Morales pitched shutout ball over the 7th and 8th innings and Jared Fisher came on in the ninth to pitch out of a bases load jam to get the save.
Garcia was outstanding with a live fastball, slider and change-up repertoire that kept the Astros off balance. Since coming down from Williamsport earlier in the season he has been one of the top pitchers on the staff going 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA. He has a WHIP of under one and has struck out 18 and walked only three in 22 innings. Only Garcia and Franklyn Kilome have WHIPs under 1 on the starting staff.
The offense was paced by lead off hitter Venn Biter’s three RBIs including two off of a triple that hit the base of the wall in left giving him 13 RBIs on the season. Who said lead off hitters can’t drive in runs?
The second and third hitters in the lineup, second baseman Tim Zier with a double and shortstop Grenny Cumana with an infield ground out, drove in the other two runs.
Zier has been the best pure hitter on the team and perhaps the entire league. He is hitting .354 on the season with 16 RBIs and a league leading .440 on base percent. In Monday’s game he laid down a perfect bunt hit down the third base line for a base hit and then lined a shot by the third baseman for a double the next time up for his RBI driving in Venn Biter. See Here.
The GCL Phillies have a two game, home and home series remaining with the Braves, Blue Jays, Yankees1 and Pirates before the season concludes on August 28. It’s been good baseball and who said the Phillies are not in the playoff hunt. Just ask the GCL Phillies.