Renfroe plates two as El Paso wins first Pacific Coast League title

Padres' No. 3 shows why he was named MVP as Chihuahuas defeat Oklahoma City

Renfroe plates two as El Paso wins first Pacific Coast League title

The Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas won their first Pacific Coast League championship on Saturday, defeating Oklahoma City, 4-3, in 11 innings in Game 4 of the best-of-five series.

Much like he has all season, Padres No. 3 prospect Hunter Renfroe carried El Paso in the victory by collecting two key RBIs on a go-ahead single in the sixth inning. However, it was a mishandled bunt off the bat of Jose Rondon in the 11th inning that ultimately proved the difference.

The Dodgers' offense came up swinging in the bottom of the first, as Micah Johnson led off the frame with a double, advanced to third on Cody Bellinger's (Dodgers' No. 1) single and then scored the game's first run on an RBI double to left-center field by Alex Verdugo (Dodgers' No. 3).

El Paso trailed until the top of the fourth inning, when Patrick Kivlehan plated Austin Hedges with a double to tie the game. Two innings later, Renfroe -- the Pacific Coast League MVP -- put the Chihuahuas ahead, 3-1, with a two-run single to center field.

Oklahoma City responded with a run in the bottom half of the frame, courtesy of a Will Venable solo homer, while Verdugo's second RBI of the contest knotted the score once again in the seventh inning. The Dodgers appeared poised to pull ahead in both the eighth and ninth innings but ultimately stranded a runner at third base in both frames, sending the game to extra innings. That trend continued in the 10th, when Oklahoma City left a runner in scoring position for the third straight frame.

The Dodgers' inability to score came back to haunt them in the top of the 11th inning, when Kivlehan led off with a single for El Paso and then advanced to third base when Bellinger uncorked an errant throw after fielding Diego Goris' sacrifice bunt. The next batter for the Chihuahuas, Rondon (Padres' No. 12), followed with another bunt but popped up the ball to Oklahoma City pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla, who, while attempting a diving catch, deflected it to the backstop, allowing Kivlehan to score.

"I haven't ever seen anything like that," Chihuahuas manager Rod Barajas told MiLB.com. "This game's crazy. If you do things right, things always take care of you in the long run. It must have been one of those days when the baseball gods looked down on us and said, 'These guys deserve it."

The one-run lead was more than enough for El Paso closer Phil Maton (Padres' No. 30), who pitched around a one-out double to notch his third postseason save and seal a PCL title for the Chihuahuas.

Starting pitcher Seth Simmons received a no-decision but was excellent in his debut for El Paso, tossing six innings of two-run ball with eight hits allowed. The 28-year-old right-hander allowed eight hits and two walks with eight strikeouts while throwing 69 of his 97 pitches for strikes.

Despite going 0-for-6 with three strikeouts on Saturday, Padres No. 2 prospect Manny Margot (No. 23 overall) led all El Paso hitters with a .361 average in the postseason. He finished with 13 hits in eight games, including three doubles, three triples and one home run. Hedges also had a strong postseason, batting .324 average with two homers and three doubles, while Carlos Asuaje (Padres' No. 20) and Goris each notched eight RBIs.

As for Renfroe, the No. 41 overall prospect went 1-for-5 on Saturday to finish the PCL playoffs with a .273/.333/.424 batting line. He paced the Chihuahuas with nine runs scored and crossed the plate at least once in six of El Paso's eight playoff games.

Though Oklahoma City would ultimately come up short in the Game 4, the club did receive strong offensive contributions from several top prospects. Both Bellinger (No. 32 on the Top 100) and Verdugo (No. 47) went 2-for-6 in the contest, while Kyle Farmer (Dodgers' No. 24) finished with a team-high three hits.

El Paso will now take on International League champions Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday, September 20, at AutoZone Park, with first pitch scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.