At the start of the Minor League season, this blog wrote that 2016 could be a nice year for the Montgomery Biscuits (AA, Tampa Bay Rays). In the first half of the season, they did not quite live up to the expectations as they finished third in the North Division of the Southern League, twelve games out of first place Jackson Generals (Seattle Mariners) with a 34-36 record. But in the second half the team found its groove and had a fantastic final two weeks in which they overtook first place Jackson.
With only three games to go, the Biscuits took on the Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs) last night. The Smokies haven’t been all that strong this season. Jackson had to face the Chattanooga Lookouts (Minnesota Twins) and that team was already eliminated from the play off race, despite being in third place, close behind Montgomery and Jackson.
As Jackson lost to Chattanooga 2-1, all the Biscuits had to do was to win their game to clinch the second half.
After the Biscuits had taken a 2-0 lead over the Smokies by scoring a run in the second and a run in the third inning, the Smokies bounced back in the seventh and the ninth.
So with the score tied at the start of the bottom of the ninth inning, Montgomery had to rally for the win. Justin Williams started well with a lead off double to right field. Williams was replaced by pinch runner Thomas Coyle. Then Juniel Querecuto laid down a bunt and got on base on the throwing error by pitcher Starling Peralta. Coyle scored the walk off win for the Biscuits that clinched the North Division championship. Starting pitcher Taylor Guerrieri pitched seven stellar innings in which he gave up only one run on seven hits and struck out five. Jaye Chapman blew the save but eventually earned the win.
With the win, the Biscuits finished a fantastic regular season with a Southern League best second half record of 41-27. The team won twelve of its last fourteen games. The Biscuits has clinched all of their five play off births in the second half of the season.
The Biscuits will face the Jackson Generals in the North Division Series. Through the
season the Generals were clearly the better team in games vs the Biscuits. But since the Generals have made a free fall in the last two weeks, things may look hopeful for the Biscuits.
With still four of the Tampa Bay Rays top prospects on the roster, the team may have a good shot to reach the championship series of the Southern League.
Since their inaugural season, the Biscuits have won two Southern League titles, back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
By winning the second half, the team will have home field advantage in the best of five series vs Jackson. The first two games will be played in Jackson. The third and fourth and fifth game (if necessary) will be played at beautiful Riverwalk Stadium.