Carrera, Rijo lead Yankees to GCL title

Carrera, Rijo lead Yankees to GCL title

The GCL Yankees East have won the Gulf Coast League title after a 5-4 triumph over the GCL Nationals in Wednesday's winner-take-all Game 3 finale.

After falling behind in the series by losing Game 1, Yankees East narrowly edged the Nationals' affiliate 2-1 on Tuesday to tie the series before jumping out to a quick three-run lead in the championship game.

Box score

The Nationals quickly answered the call with two runs in the bottom of the second and added two more in the third before the Yankees knotted the score. Third baseman Jose Carrera, a 5-foot-2 prospect out of Manhattan College who hit just one home run in 41 games during the regular season, launched a game-tying solo blast in the seventh inning.

The situation was only made possible by Yankees hurler Luis Rijo, who pitched 5 1/3 perfect innings in relief, striking out seven of the 16 batters he faced.

The clubs traded zeroes in the eighth before shortstop Jose Devers, cousin of Red Sox infielder Rafael Devers, singled and scored the winning run in the top of the ninth. Devers, who finished the day 1-for-4, played a key part in the Yankees' win in Game 2, singling to lead off the contest and promptly stealing two bases before coming into score on a passed ball.

Yankees Pipeline

Shawn Semple, the Yankees' 11th-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, made things interesting in the bottom of the final frame while trying to close it out. Semple loaded the bases with two outs, but struck out Nationals No. 8 prospect Yasel Antuna to seal the victory.

The tough save capped off a stellar year from Semple, who went 4-0 with two saves, a 1.00 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 18 innings pitched.

The win marks the club's first championship since 2011 and its 11th title overall, the most in GCL history.

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @OMacklinMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.