Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.
Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player Hunter Renfroe put El Paso ahead with a two-run, eighth-inning homer and right-handed reliever Phil Maton retired the last four Tacoma hitters Saturday night as the Triple-A Chihuahuas came from behind to defeat the Rainiers 5-4 in Tacoma to win the PCL's Pacific Conference title.
The Padres Triple-A affiliate will meet the winner of the Oklahoma City-Nashville series in the PCL championship series starting Tuesday night in El Paso. Oklahoma City and Nashville meet in the decisive fifth game of the PCL's Atlantic Conference series Sunday.
El Paso scored three straight wins over Tacoma after losing the opener in the best-of-five series.
El Paso trailed 4-2 going into the seventh inning Saturday night. The Chihuahuas scored an unearned run in the seventh on designated hitter Carlos Asuaje's RBI single.
Catcher Austin Hedges drew a walk to open the eighth and Renfroe followed with the homer that put El Paso ahead 5-4.
Right fielder Renfroe finished the game going 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, two RBIs and three runs scored. He was 0-for-11 in the series before Saturday night.
Center fielder Manuel Margot (who was 9-for-18 in the four-game series) was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk Saturday night. Hedges (.294) was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Third baseman Nick Noonan (.375) was 1-for-4 with a run scored.
Asuaje (.278) was 1-for-4 with a walk and a RBI. Second baseman Diego Goris (.313) was 1-for-3 with a RBI. Shortstop Jose Rondon (.176) drove in a run.
Right-handed starter Dinelson Lamet allowed three runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts in four innings. Right-handed reliever Jason Jester allowed one run on one hit (a solo homer) with four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.
Left-handed reliever Buddy Baumann allowed two hits and a strikeout in an inning to get the win. Maton struck out two and hit a batter in 1 1/3 innings to get the save.
While the Chihuahuas won the PCL's Pacific Southern Division title for a second straight season this year, this was the first time they won a post-season series in franchise history.