Renfroe, Pena lead El Paso to division title

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Triple-A El Paso has won the Pacific Coast League's Pacific Southern title and will open the Pacific Coast League playoffs Wednesday in Fresno.

Hunter Renfroe hit a tie-breaking double and Ramiro Pena followed with a two-run single Sunday night as Triple-A El Paso scored three runs in the top of the 10th for a 7-4 win at Reno.

That win, combined with Las Vegas' 6-3 loss at home to Tacoma, put the 78-65 Chihuahuas a game ahead in the division race with a game to play. The first tiebreaker is the head-to-head results during the season, which El Paso won.

Keys to Sunday's win and El Paso's late-season run to its first Triple-A division title and playoff berth were late-season additions Renfroe and Hector Gomez.

Gomez singled as a pinch-hitter to lead-off the 10th and start the rally. Second baseman Casey McElroy then reached on a throwing error ahead of Renfroe's double that scored Gomez. Pen singled home McElroy and Renfroe.

Renfroe, 23, the Padres first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2013 Draft, had two doubles in five at-bats with two RBIs and a run. He has hit .341 (29-for-85) for the Chihuahuas since being promoted from Double-A San Antonio with five doubles, two triples and six home runs for 24 RBIs and 15 runs scored in 20 games.

Shortstop Gomez, 27, hit .362 in 28 games with El Paso since signing with the Padres as a Minor League free agent. He was 38-for-105 with 11 doubles, four triples and three homers for 22 RBIs and 16 runs.

Starting left-handed pitcher Jason Lane (5.71 ERA) allowed two runs on six hits and two walks with a strikeout in 5 2/3 innings. The converted Major League outfielder also doubled in his only at-bat and scored a run.

Right-handed reliever Dale Thayer (0.93 ERA) issued one walk and hit a strikeout in two innings. But closer Jay Jackson (3-3, 2.54) allowed two runs on two hits and a walk with a strikeout in the bottom of the ninth to blow the save, although he picked up the win thanks to the 10th-inning rally.

Right-hander Tayron Guerrero issued a walk with a strikeout in the 10th to record his first save.

El Paso is one of three Padres affiliates in the playoffs. Class A Fort Wayne will open the Midwest League playoffs Wednesday as the secondhalf champion of the Eastern division. Short-season Class A Tri-City (42-34) opens the Northwest League playoffs Monday night at Everett (42-34), as the first-half champions of the Northern Division. Right-hander Brett Kennedy (0-2, 2.70 ERA) will start the opener of the best 2-of-3 series for the Dust Devils. Kennedy was the Padres' 11th-round pick in the Draft out of Fordham University.

Around the farm

DOUBLE-A SAN ANTONIO (60-79): Corpus Christi 9, MISSIONS 2. 2B Taylor Lindsey (.174) was 1-for-2 with his fifth-homer, driving in both San Antonio runs. Starting RHP Bryan Rodriguez (6-14, 4.44 ERA) allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks with two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. RHP Genison Reyes (0.00) allowed a hit and a walk with three strikeouts in two scoreless innings.

CLASS A ADVANCED LAKE ELSINORE (49-90): Storm 5, VISALIA 3. DH Matthew Chavez (.278) was 2-for-4 with his third homer, two RBIs and two runs scored. C Miguel Del Castillo (.216) was 2-for-3 with his third homer and two RBIs. Starting LHP Travis Radke (1-4, 8.10 ERA) allowed three runs on nine hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. RHP Jason Jester (3.59) allowed a hit with two strikeouts in two innings to get his sixth save.

CLASS A FORT WAYNE (76-61): Bowling Green 5, TIN CAPS 2. 1B Luis Tejada (.290) was 3-for-4 with a double, a stolen base and a RBI. Starting LHP Jose Castillo (4.00 ERA) allowed two runs on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts in five innings.

SHORT-SEASON CLASS A TRI-CITY (42-34): DUST DEVILS 9, Spokane 2. Starting RHP Emmanuel Ramirez (2-1, 3.00 ERA) allowed one run on three hits with 10 strikeouts in five innings in Tri-City's regular-season finale. RHP Trey Wingenter (12.00) allowed three hits with three strikeouts in two scoreless innings. 3B Carlos Belen (.218) was 2-for-4 with a double, a steal, three RBIs and a run scored. RF Mason Smith (.226) was 1-for-4 with two RBIs.