Binghamton wins Eastern League title

Binghamton wins Eastern League title

With Game 3 of the Eastern League championship series tied at 1 and runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday against Double-A Richmond, Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez had a choice to make. The pitcher's spot in his lineup was up, and the Mets had a chance to win the game, complete the sweep and capture the Eastern League title for the first time since 1994.

Lopez sent Gavin Cecchini to second base as a pinch-runner and tabbed Jayce Boyd as the pinch-hitter to face Richmond closer Steven Okert. Boyd ran the count to 2-2 before hitting a single to center field, scoring Cecchini. Binghamton walked off with a 2-1 victory and sweep of the best-of-five series.

Binghamton's pitching staff dominated the finals, holding Richmond to four runs in three games. On Friday it was 23-year-old left-hander Steven Matz, the Mets' No. 9 prospect, who stymied the Flying Squirrels. Matz made one of his best starts of the season, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Elliott Blair broke it up with a one-out single. Blair was the first Richmond batter to reach base since the fourth inning, a streak of 12 batters.

After giving up another hit, Matz was relieved by Hansel Robles, who allowed one of the runners to score before getting out of the inning. Matz finished the night with 11 strikeouts and two walks in 7 1/3 innings. He threw 106 pitches.

While Matz was baffling Richmond's hitters, left-hander Ty Blach, the Giants' No. 6 prospect, was doing the same to Binghamton's lineup. He struck out seven and held the Mets to one run on five hits in seven innings.

But Binghamton had more success against Richmond's bullpen. The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but were unable to score before breaking through in the ninth against Okert, the Giants' No. 10 prospect.

Center fielder Brandon Nimmo, ranked No. 62 on MLBPipeline.com's list of Top 100 Prospects, went 1-for-4. The Mets' No. 3 prospect hit .324/.378/.412 and scored seven runs in eight playoff games.

Nimmo and Matz joined Binghamton in June after starting the season with Class A Advanced St. Lucie. They helped the Mets to an 83-59 record during the regular season, finishing second in the Eastern Division to qualify for the playoffs. Binghamton defeated Portland in five games in their semifinal series to advance to the finals for the first time in 20 years.

Binghamton has now won the Eastern League championship series all three times it advanced that far. It also won the title in 1992 and 1994.

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