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Chihuahuas playing biggest game of season Thursday

It’s been 21 years since an El Paso team won a minor league baseball championship.

Thursday night the El Paso Chihuahuas can keep their dream of winning a Pacific Coast League title alive. The game is being billed as the biggest in franchise history.

It was the Diablos of 1994 that last won a championship here. The Chihuahuas have a chance to be the only team since then to win a title, but first they must make the playoffs.

Jason Hagerty’s extra-inning home run on Wednesday night put the Chihuahuas within striking distance of first place. They sit just a half game back of Las Vegas going into their final game against the Pacific Southern Division defending champs. A victory would put El Paso in the lead for the league’s final playoff spot with five games to play in the regular season.

“(Thursday night) is almost what the whole season comes down to,” said ESPN El Paso’s Steve Kaplowitz, who added despite it almost being football season, the Chihuahuas are still the talk of the town. “UTEP doesn’t play at home until much later in the month, so really right now, for El Pasoans they still have a lot of baseball to talk about.”

How successful has this season already been? Nearly 579,000 fans came through the gates at Southwest University Park this season. There were a total of 51 sellouts and the Chihuahuas can expect more sellouts, if they make the playoffs.

“You’re looking at possibly nearly another 60,000 to 70,000 fans to the bottom line,” Kaplowitz said.

Added Chihuahuas owner Josh Hunt: “I think this community, just as they’ve done over the past two years, will respond with great and exciting crowds and show that we are the best fans in minor league baseball.”

Chihuahuas ownership aren’t the only ones hoping for some playoff games. San Diego Padres President and CEO Mike Dee told ABC-7 the parent-club is watching the chase closely too.

“I can tell you all of us in San Diego follow our affiliates very closely,” Dee said. “There’s not a morning that goes by that I don’t read the game report from the night before.”

Playoff tickets are already on sale on the Chihuahuas web site and at the Ballpark box office. If they don’t make the playoffs purchases will be applied to games next season.

Thursday night’s big game in Las Vegas can be heard live on ABC-7’s news partner station AM 600 ESPN El Paso. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m.

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