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York rallies to force extras, swept by Sugar Land in 10th

Patrick Strohecker
505-5402/@P_Strohecker
  • York was swept, 3-0, by Sugar Land in the best-of-five Freedom Division Championship Series.
  • The Revs rallied from 6-2 down to force extra innings with Joel Guzman tying the game in the bottom of the ninth.
  • York set a franchise playoff attendance record with 7,051 fans at PeoplesBank Park.

If there was any one characteristic that could define the 2016 York Revolution, it was the team's knack for never feeling like it was out of a ballgame.

Joel Guzman hit a grand slam in York's 11-2 win over Southern Maryland on Thursday.

Over the course of the year, York had 44 come-from-behind wins, the most in franchise history.

On Friday night, in front of a franchise playoff-record crowd of 7,051 fans at PeoplesBank Park in Game 3 of the Atlantic League Freedom Division Championship Series, the Revs displayed that comeback prowess one last time. Just this time, it wasn't enough.

York rallied from a 6-2 deficit through six innings to force extra innings, but gave up two runs in the top of the 10th, losing to the Sugar Land Skeeters, 8-6, and getting swept in the best-of-five series, ending its season.

Prior to the 10th, the Revs were down to their final strike, but Joel Guzman delivered a seeing-eye, two-strike, two-out single to tie the game at 6-6, scoring Josh Wilson and Michael Rockett. Two batters later, with the bases loaded, Isaias Tejeda nearly extended York's season at least a day with a near walk-off grand slam, only to have it hang up on the right field warning track, sending the game to extra innings.

"The guys are great guys and they don't quit," manager Mark Mason said. "We set a club record with 44 come-from-behind wins. ... But, tonight was another game when we made a throwing error when they were trying to bunt that gave them an unearned run and sometimes that's all it takes. That one run right there, makes it a 6-5 game."

In the 10th inning, the Revs called on lockdown closer Mike DeMark to get them through the top half of the frame, but he had, arguably, his worst outing of the year at the worst possible time. After getting a quick strikeout to start the frame, he loaded the bases with one out and then walked in the eventual game-winning run and then let another run cross on a wild pitch. He finally got York out of the frame with back-to-back outs, but the deficit was too much for the team to overcome for a second time in two innings.

The Revs went down in order in the bottom of the 10th, ending their season.

Playoff fireworks: Sugar Land opened the game's scoring with a run in the top of the second, but it wasn't until the fourth inning when the contest had the feeling of a playoff atmosphere.

York looked to get its first two runners on in the bottom of the fourth, only to have a dropped ball at first base be ruled an out because of fielder interference by Tejeda. To make matters worse, homeplate umpire Nate Caldwell forced Andres Perez to go back to first base, prompting Revs' manager Mark Mason to protest the game.

But, Bryan Pounds negated all the bad breaks in the frame with a long two-run home run to give the home side a 2-1 lead and bring the franchise playoff record crowd to its feet.

Former York Revolution closer Mike DeMark will pitch for Team Italy in next month's World Baseball Classic.

The lead didn't last long, as the Skeeters evened the score in the top half of the fifth and then broke the game open with a two-out, two-strike grand slam in the top of the sixth by Josh Prince. Prior to the grand slam, however, York starter Frank Gailey was ejected after being lifted from the game with one out in the sixth and then, two batters later, Mason was also ejected after Caldwell thought he was gesturing something toward him from the dugout.

"He was upset that I protested the interference call," Mason said about Caldwell. "...When their (Wilfredo) Rodriguez bunted, I (gestured) to Pounds to move back. I never even said a word and he saw me make this gesture like I was saying the guy was inside the line and he threw me out. So I got thrown out from inside my dugout, standing behind the fence, never said a word and made a motion to my third baseman and I got thrown out for that."

Rally time: For anyone who followed York all season long, however, knew the game wasn't over. Kevin Rivers, who's been hot all series long, got the team right back in the game with a two-run homer to cut the deficit in half to 6-4.

The scored stayed that way into the ninth, when the Revs completed the comeback with the seeing-eye single through third and short by Guzman to level the score and force extra innings.

Great crowd: The crowd on hand to see the game was one of the largest in franchise history and the largest since the 2011 All-Star Game. With the entire second half to promote the playoffs returning back to York, the fans delivered by showing up and staying until the final out, sending off their team with a final cheer.

"The fans here are great. They really are," Mason said. "I had a lot of people telling me we had a great season and congratulations and all that. It's frustrating not to advance. It really is."

Abrupt end to strong season: The loss for York ended what was a really tough finish to an otherwise strong year. Heading into the playoffs, the Revs dropped six of their last seven games, so, with the sweep, ended the year going 1-9 over their final 10 games, by far the team's worst stretch of baseball in 2016.

Still, by making the playoffs and contending for the league's best record until the very end of the season, it was a successful year for York. It may not have ended the way Mason or the rest of the team anticipated, but the last 10 games won't tell the entire story of the 2016 season.

"Until we got to the last seven or eight games of the regular season, we had the best record in the league and we weren't playing for anything," Mason said. "...I think that's a great sign to the kind of guys we had. ...We could've folded up the shop. We pushed them till the last week of the season to win the division, so I think that says a lot about us that we had the best record in the league until the last weekend."

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com