During the regular season, Dilson Herrera led the Gulf Coast League in total bases and runs scored. On Tuesday afternoon, he led the Pirates to a 5-2 win over the host Red Sox in Game 1 of the best-of-3 league finals.
The 18-year-old Colombian native homered, tripled, doubled and drove in three runs out of the leadoff spot, and third baseman Eric Wood, the Bucs' sixth-round pick in this year's Draft, doubled twice and singled. The two hitters finished first and second on the club, respectively, in RBIs during the regular season.
The Pirates and Red Sox were both wild cards heading into the playoffs, and both notched 1-0 victories over their division leaders on Sunday afternoon, getting the games in before Hurricane Isaac deluged the area.
Pitching again dominated on Tuesday. The Pirates trio of starter Jonathan Sandfort, Andy Otamendi and Cesar Lopez held the Red Sox to a pair of singles over the first eight innings. Sandfort fanned one over three innings; Otamendi, who got the win, pitched two no-hit frames; and Lopez struck out five in three strong innings. None of the three walked a batter.
The Pirates got on the board first, as Elvis Escobar and Herrera delivered back-to-back RBI triples to center field. Wood's second double of the game scored Wyatt Mathisen in the eighth, and Herrera provided insurance with a two-out, two-run blast in the ninth to give the Bucs a 5-0 lead.
That insurance paid off, as Pirates reliever Martires Cadet walked a pair and gave up a two-run double to Red Sox left fielder Kevin Mager before giving way to Luis Campos, who struck out Nathan Minnich to end the game.
Sergio Gomez suffered the loss for the Red Sox, allowing two runs -- one earned -- on four hits over 2 1/3 innings. He walked one.
Pirates pitching has allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks in the first two games of the playoffs.
The Pirates, who head home to Bradenton for Game 2 at noon Wednesday, find themselves one win away from their first Gulf Coast League title since joining the circuit in 1968. For 29 of those years, they were managed by Woody Huyke, who now serves as a coach under manager Tom Prince. Prince has been with the club since 2007 and has twice guided it to first-round playoff losses.