Express open PCL playoffs with walk-off win against Iowa Cubs


By the time Chas McCormick was done with his first playoff game with the Express, he was shirtless in the outfield.

The Round Rock outfielder hit a walk-off single to give the Express a 5-4 win over the Iowa Cubs in Game 1 of the best-of-five PCL Semifinals Wednesday night at Dell Diamond. Round Rock scored all three runs with two outs in the 11th.

"Winning Game 1 is ginormous," McCormick said. "It keeps us a little looser. When we lock in, we're pretty good offensively."

Even Express manager Mickey Storey got in on the celebration.

"There are a lot of emotions that go into it," Storey said. "Chas is a great clubhouse guy. For him to come up in that situation and be the guy was exciting."

The last time the Express faced Iowa reliever Dillon Maples was on July 28 when he gave up three runs on two hits in one-third of an inning. He gave up three runs and two hits over two thirds on Wednesday night.

Round Rock starter and recently minted PCL Pitcher of the Week Kent Emanuel (8-2, 2.84 ERA) finished with a no decision, striking out a season-high 10 batters and allowing two runs on five hits over 6.1 innings.

Express outfielder Myles Straw hit safely in his 10th straight game, tying his season-long streak.

Drew Ferguson launched a two-run homer over the left-field wall in the second inning, and birthday boy Nick Tanielu came around to score. It was Ferguson's 12th home run of the year.

The Cubs tied the game with sacrifice flies in the sixth and seventh innings.

Iowa took the lead on an error by Express second baseman Alex De Goti and added another run in the top half of the 11th inning on a sacrifice fly.

"There was a little bit of a sinking feeling," McCormick said. "But our lineup can put up a bunch of runs in an inning just like that. We always have confidence."

Storey said the vibe in the dugout was the same it's been all year long for the Express, who finished with the best record in the Pacific Coast League for the first time in franchise history.

"It wasn't overly deflating and it wasn't overly high," "If you aren't playing the game without being even-keeled, you're in the wrong sport, because there are so many ups and downs, you've got to level it out."

This is the first time the Express and Cubs have met in the postseason, but Round Rock beat Iowa 11 times in 16 meetings during the regular season. Nine of those games were decided by three or fewer runs and three went to extra innings.

The Express made the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and the third time since joining the PCL after finishing the regular season with an 84-56 record, the third-best record in the club's Triple-A history.

Round Rock and Iowa continue the best-of-five series Thursday at 7:05 p.m. at Dell Diamond, with righty Brandon Bielak (8-4, 4.41 ERA) in line to start for the Express. The series continues with up to three games in Iowa beginning Friday night.

"Everyone in this lineup has come up big at least once throughout the year," Storey said. "It's just that we're so interchangeable and so dynamic, that anyone can be special on any given day."

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