Friday, September 29, 2023
THIRD baseman BJ Murray celebrated his second straight Minor League baseball title, this time with his Tennessee Smokies after they captured the Double-A Southern League championship title on Tuesday night.
The 23-year-old Murray and the Smokies knocked off the Pensacola Blue Wahoos 10-3 in Pensacola, Florida, to complete a two-game sweep of their best-of-three championship series.
“It feels good. I expected us to win and that’s what happened,” said Murray, the son of baseball/softball player Bertie Murray and the grandson of legendary pitcher Bertie Murray Sr.
Batting second in the line-up, the 5-foot, 10-inch, 205-pound Murray ripped a three-run home run on a fly ball to right centre field to push the Smokies up 4-1 in the third inning.
The switch hitter finished with a 1-for-4 outing with a strike out, four RBI (runs batted in) and a run scored.
In game one of the series, the Smokies took a 1-0 lead as they doubled up the Blue Wahoos 8-4 on their home field in Kodak, Tennessee.
In that game, Murray went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored.
“Once I got the three-run homer, we just continued to pile on the runs,” Murray said. “That was special because I did it in a critical time in the game when we needed a big lift.”
Murray and the Smokies swept aside the Chattanooga Lookouts last week in two games in their playoff series to advance to the championship.
In the 5-1 clincher, Murray went 0-for-3 with a RBI, a walk and a strike out. He was more productive in their 3-1 opener by going 2-for-3 with a RBI, a walk and a run scored.
For Murray, it was good to play with his team-mates on the Smokies roster because he indicated that he may never get the opportunity to play with some of them again. “You have to make the most of it,” Murray insisted. “We got to bond during the year, so it was good to have these guys as my best friends for the year.”
Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in round 15 with the 454th pick overall in the Major League 2021 draft out of Florida Atlantic, Murray played last season with the South Bend Cubs as they defeated the Lake County Captains in the High-A league final.
“Last year was a little different because it was my first time in the Minors,” Murray reflected.
“This year, I was more comfortable, so it was good to win it again. I got to play with some of the same guys from last year, but it was good to win another championship title.”
As for his career, Murray said he’s pleased with what he has achieved so far, but he wants to continue to get better because the ultimate goal is to get to the Major League and he’s not there yet. “I have to keep it going and keep getting better,” he stated.
Murray will head to Florida to take some time off. He’s not exactly sure when he will. But he hopes that he will continue to get the call up the ladder to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs before Chicago gives him a spot on their Cubs’ Major League team.