Officially beginning their quest for a third Atlantic League pennant, the York Revolution (76-64) opens the best-of-five Freedom Division Championship Series tonight against the Sugar Land Skeeters (74-66). Game 1 from Constellation Field begins at 8:05 p.m. EDT. Pregame coverage on SportsRadio 1350 WOYK with Darrell Henry beings 20 minutes prior to first pitch.
The Sugar Land Skeeters won the second half of the Freedom Division with a 39-31 record, three games better than the second-place Revs. The Skeeters are in the playoffs for the third time in their five-year history. Sugar Land last made the postseason in 2014, falling to Lancaster in the Atlantic League Championship Series.
The second-half champion Skeeters will host Games 1 and 2 tonight and tomorrow. After a travel day on Thursday, the Revs host Game 3 on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Games 4 and 5 (if necessary) at 6:30 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Right-hander James Simmons (11-9, 4.36) gets the nod for the Revs in Game 1; he will square off with Skeeters righty Sean Gallagher (10-8, 3.79). Simmons made starts in all six series against Sugar Land, going 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA (35 IP, 21 ER). He fared better at Constellation Field, where he went 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA (18.2 IP, 8 ER). Gallagher made two starts against the Revs, going 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA (11.1 IP, 5 ER).
Game 2 will feature a matchup of York RHP Micah Owings (7-6, 4.30) and Sugar Land LHP Aaron Thompson (9-5, 3.98). Lefty Frank Gailey (6-5, 3.13) has been announced as the Revs’ Game 3 starter, while the Skeeters have not named one yet.
The Season Series
The Skeeters won the season series over the Revs, 12-8. While the teams split the 10 matchups at PeoplesBank Park, Sugar Land made its bones at home, winning seven out of 10 at Constellation Field. The Revs are 38-62 against the Skeeters (40-65 including playoffs), and their .380 winning percentage is their lowest against any active Atlantic League club.
Despite the losing record, several of the Revs’ biggest season wins – and Bryan Pounds’ key moments – came at the expense of the Skeeters.
May 14 at York – On a night when York retired the number of pitcher Corey Thurman, the Revs and Skeeters played a game that would give Thurman and other pitchers nightmares. The Revs were down 3-2 before hammering five runs in the fifth, highlighted by Bryan Pounds’ bases-clearing double, to go up 7-3. Sugar Land responded with a five-run inning of its own in the top of the sixth, then added three more in the seventh to go up 11-7. York stormed back in the bottom of the eighth with six runs; Pounds again provided the pop with a go-ahead two-run homer over the Arch Nemesis. Mike DeMark pitched a perfect ninth for the save and the Revs ended the tumultuous night with a 13-11 win in a game that took over four hours.
June 12 at Sugar Land – Down 4-2 in the top of the seventh, the Michael Rockett brought home a run with a two-out RBI single, putting two men on for Joel Guzman. Following the principle that “Everything is Bigger in Texas,” the Gooz cracked a towering three-run home run to deep left field. The Revs won 6-4, and NORAD is still tracking Guzman’s blast somewhere over Botswana.
July 24 at Sugar Land – Down 7-4 after eight innings and with Skeeter closer Derek Loop taking the hill for the ninth, York looked dead in the water on this midsummer Sunday night. Little did they know the floodgates were about to open. Down to their final strike several times, the Revs tied it on Kevin Rivers’ two-out RBI single and took the lead on Pounds’ RBI single. When the flood subsided the Revs had seven runs home – one of several seven-run ninths for York in 2016 – and escaped East Texas with a stunning 11-7 win.
August 23 at York – With Sugar Land poised to take the second half Freedom Division or a wild card, the final Revs-Skeeters series of the regular season took on a playoff atmosphere. The first game did not disappoint as the teams traded the lead five times. Down 6-5 in the eighth, the Skeeters snagged the lead on ex-Rev Johan Limonta’s pinch-hit two-run homer over the Arch Nemesis. Facing Loop in the bottom of the ninth, the Revs again put their rally caps to work. Perez, Rivers, and Rockett led off with three straight singles to load the bases, and Brandon Chaves worked out a full-count walk to force in the tying run. After a strikeout, Pounds came up as a pinch hitter and grounded an 0-2 curveball to the left side of the infield that shortstop Josh Prince mishandled. Rivers came in to score and Pounds was again the walk-off hero.
Pounds was King Clutch for the Revs in 2016, but none more so than against the Skeeters. Of his eight game-winning hits in York’s last at-bat, three game against Sugar Land.
York and Sugar Land have met in the playoffs once before, coming together for a classic Freedom Division Championship Series in 2014. The teams split the first two at Constellation Field: the Revs rode seven scoreless innings from Alain Quijano to a 5-0 win in Game 1, while the Skeeters rebounded to win Game 2, 9-2.
Game 3 at then-Santander Stadium featured perhaps the most noteworthy moment in Revolution playoff history: Sean Smith’s eighth-inning game-tying solo home run and the subsequent “Hop Seen ’Round the World.” Limonta singled with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th to give the Revs a dramatic 3-2 win.
Gallagher and Logan Williamson engaged in a classic pitchers’ duel in Game 4 and the game went into extra innings scoreless. Sugar Land finally broke through in the top of the 10th on a Dominic Ramos RBI single, winning 1-0 to tie the series.
A decisive Game 5 saw the Revs explode for three runs in the bottom of the first. York led 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth and seemed poised for more, but a controversial double play call ended the inning and shifted the momentum to Sugar Land. The Skeeters responded with a four-run top of the fifth, taking the lead on Ryan Langerhans’ two-run triple. The Revs got the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the ninth, but Salvador Paniagua grounded into a game-ending double play and the Skeeters escaped York with the game and the series, 5-3.