El Paso wins Pacific Coast League title

Padres' top affiliate headed for Triple-A National Championship Game

El Paso wins Pacific Coast League title

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

The Padres' Triple-A El Paso affiliate has won the Pacific Coast League championship.

Patrick Kivlehan raced home from third on Jose Rondon's 11th-inning bunt single on Saturday night to lead El Paso to a 4-3 win over the Oklahoma City Dodgers and the PCL title.

El Paso won the best-of-five series against the Dodgers' top affiliate, 3-1.

The Chihuahuas now travel to Memphis on Tuesday to face International League champion Scranton-Wilkes Barre in a one-game matchup for the Triple-A championship.

El Paso is the first Padres Triple-A team to win the PCL title since Las Vegas in 1998.

After winning their second straight PCL Pacific Southern title, the Chihuahuas won three straight games to defeat Tacoma, 3-1, in the best-of-five Pacific Division title series before defeating Oklahoma City in the championship series. At one point in the playoffs, El Paso won five straight games.

The decisive run scored on a strange play in the 11th.

Kivlehan opened the inning with a single and moved to third when Diego Goris reached first on a sacrifice bunt and a throwing error.

Rondon, El Paso's shortstop, then popped up a bunt toward Dodgers relief pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla. When Bonilla tried to make a diving catch, the ball ricocheted off his glove and past the catcher, allowing Kivlehan to score.

The Dodgers got a one-out double in the bottom of the 11th, but right-handed reliever Phil Maton retired the last two hitters to get his third playoff save.

Left fielder/first baseman Kivlehan led the Padres' nine-hit attack, going 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Catcher Austin Hedges was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe had a two-run single in five at-bats. His sixth-inning hit gave El Paso a 3-1 lead.

Second baseman Carlos Asuaje was 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. Rondon was 1-for-5 with an RBI. Goris and pinch-hitter Rocky Gale had El Paso's other hits.

El Paso starter Seth Simmons allowed two runs on eight hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in six innings. Left-handed reliever Jose Torres allowed a run on three hits in the seventh, as Oklahoma City tied the game at 3.

Five Chihuahuas relievers then allowed three hits and two walks over four scoreless innings.

Right-hander Jason Jester retired the only two hitters he faced in the eighth, with left-hander Buddy Baumann getting the final out. Left-hander Kyle McGrath allowed two hits and two walks with three strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings. Right-hander Derek Eitel retired the only two hitters he faced (with one strikeout) in the 10th and was credited with his second win in the playoffs.

Maton allowed the one hit in the bottom of the 11th to get the save.