BOCA RATON, Fla. – Lynn University baseball alum Tommy Kahnle and the New York Yankees advanced to the American League Championship Series following a 5-2 game-five victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night at Progressive Field. The Yankees won the five-game series, 3-2, and will face off with the Houston Astros in a best-of-seven round for the American League pennant.
Kahnle played a crucial role in helping the Yankees advance, as he pitched 2.2 perfect innings of baseball in the American League Division Series, retiring all eight batters that he faced, five via strikeout. The former Fighting Knight picked up a two-inning save in game four at Yankee Stadium after working out of a two-on, nobody-out jam in the eighth inning. To watch the six-out save, click here.
"It's really nice to see someone who has had to work so hard in his professional career—going up and down [between the minors and MLB], changing teams—to be able to have the success that he's having," said Rudy Garbalosa, head coach of the Fighting Knights' baseball program. "He was meant for those tight moments and high-pressure situations. It brings back some great memories of him in a Lynn uniform in the postseason, having a lot of success, enjoyment and energy in those situations. It's great to see him continue to have the success that he's earned and worked hard for."
The ALDS pitted a pair of Sunshine State Conference foes against each other once more, as Kahnle toed the rubber against former Barry Buccaneer Yan Gomes. Kahnle retired Gomes on a groundout in the eighth inning of game two, marking only the second time the two had faced off at the MLB level. Both players competed against one another in SSC action in 2009, with Gomes going 2-for-3 with a pair of exta-base hits off Kahnle.
In his two years with the Blue and White, Kahnle helped lift the Fighting Knights to unprecedented heights. He powered Lynn on the mound in relief to the 2009 NCAA Division II National Championship and was named the South Region and National Tournament Most Outstanding Player. He posted a 1-0 record, five saves, 0.00 earned-run average and 12 strikeouts in 12.2 innings of work in the postseason as a redshirt freshman.
As a sophomore, Kahnle returned in a starting role and led the Fighting Knights in ERA, strikeouts and opponent's batting average. He tossed the program's third no-hitter—the first in 11 years—and second by just one pitcher, with a 7-0 victory over Saint Leo on March 13, 2010. He struck out seven batters in the win.
Kahnle was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the annual Major League Baseball Rule 5 Draft in June of 2013, making his Major League debut the following season. He became the third player in Sunshine State Conference history to be picked in the Rule 5 Draft and first since 2005. The hard-throwing right-hander was traded from Colorado to the Chicago White Sox following the 2015 season, where he spent all of 2016 and the first half of the 2017 season before being traded to the Yankees with David Robertson and Todd Frazier in July.
He was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the fifth round, 175th overall, of the 2010 MLB amateur draft. In his time in the big leagues, Kahnle has compiled 223 strikeouts in 192.0 innings as a reliever with a 3.56 ERA. Since being traded to the White Sox, Kahnle has been lights-out, posting an ERA of 2.60 over 90.0 innings with the two American League clubs.