Browsing the blog archives for July, 2011.

The 2007 Playoffs: World Series Recap

Game Recaps

27 October 2007 – After utterly dominating their league once again on both sides of the plate, the Daly City Montis roared in once again to the Fall Classic in what has for years been an annual victory march. Last year they went 8-2 in the postseason before their coup de grâce, a 4-0 sweep of the SWL Champion Pentax Shake Reducers, and the 2007 version of the Montis looked even more dominant, bashing their way to 1098 runs (besting 2nd place by 157 runs, after only leading by 28 the previous year) and allowing an anorexic 485 runs (440 earned) all year, for an astounding 2.68 team ERA in a year when the UL average was 4.94 (a team ERA+ of 184!).

Their opponents from the SWL side had a less glamorous road to the championship series. The Paris Forfeiters scored just 834 runs this season (7th out of 8 teams in the SWL), though they kept opponents to a SWL-low 784 runs (second in baseball to the Daly City), thanks largely to a rotation led by free agent import Kyle Katarn (who attained the first SWL Triple Crown after playing runner-up to Daly City pitchers in the UL league for years).

Game 1 started with a duel of star pitchers Yan and Katarn, almost certainly the Pitcher of the Year award winners for their respective leagues. Katarn gave up an early unearned run in the 3rd inning when second baseman Christian Lee failed to put away a 2-out grounder, allowing leadoff wunderkind Christian Ortiz to score. At the bottom of the 6th, Daly City slugger Francis Chen hammered a massive solo homerun to stake the lead to 2-0. The way Yan was pitching, Chen’s homer looked like the nail in the coffin – Yan had pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 15. But over the course of a barely-over-.500 season and a gritty 7-game series victory in the League championship just to get here, the scrappy Paris Forfeiters wouldn’t give up. In the eighth, rightfielder Willis Hoffman led off with a double, and just two batters later was driven in by a Shigemoto Noriyuki PINCH-HIT homerun that tied the game up. The Montis failed to score in the 8th, and in the 9th Yan ran into trouble again, giving up a leadoff triple to Anthony Reyes, who was promptly driven in by Lamont Sanchez’s single for the go-ahead run. Despite catcher Tina Quach earning herself a walk with 1 out to set up the tying run, the game was to end on a pinch-hit strikeout by Jonathan Chee. Katarn pitched brilliantly against a high-octane Daly City offense, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits and a walk over 8 innings, while striking out 8. Yan, in perhaps a more awe-inspiring but leaky performance, allowed 6 hits (4 going for extra bases) and 3 runs, despite striking out 18 batters and requiring just 9 outs from his fielders. It was his second loss of the season.

The Montis came roaring back with a vengeance in the next three games, winning by a combined score of 23-3. In an all-team effort, the Montis piled up for 44 hits, 3 walks and a combined line of .379-.388-.543 to back a dominant  trio of performances by starters Esguerra (1 run on 4 H+BB in 8 innings, 10 K’s), Chin (1 run on 6 H+BB in 8 innings, 13 K’s), and Zhao (1 run on 8 H+BB in 9 innings CG, 13 K’s). The Montis line up exacted a blistering revenge on Forfeiters ace Kyle Katarn in Game 5, ripping him for 14 hits and 9 runs in 7+2/3 innings in by far his worst outing of the season.

The Forfeiters would not go out so easily, however. Determined to win at least one on the last night of their homestand, leadoff CF James Talmage put on a 1-man show, stroking 2 doubles and a homerun in 3 hits to score 3 runs and drive in 4 himself, having a hand in 7 of the Shake Reducers 8 runs in their 8-6 victory. The young starter Alfred Vong was hit hard in this game, allowing 5 runs in 5+2/3 innings, and even closer Leong could not stop the bleeding – he gave up 3 more runs in just his 2nd appearance this postseason, driving up his ERA to a comical 33.76.

The Montis made things interesting in Game 6. Despite having both #1 and #2 starters Yan and Esguerra fully rested, the Montis manager instead trotted out long reliever Kelley Cox, making just the 2nd start of her young career. She was the most well-rested of anyone on the Daly City pitching staff, having pitched just a two-inning outing in the opening series against the Asia Giants. Still, it was a curious choice, considering that Cox had not fared well in her only other audition as a closer, a May start against the Caribbean Pirates in which she lasted just 3+2/3 innings and gave up 5 runs on 9 Hits+BB.

The move proved to pay off, however – Cox threw an understatedly dominant 8 innings, allowing just 3 hits, 2 walks, and a single run in by far the longest outing of her career. Unfortunately for Cox, the fairytale of clinching the World Series championship win in her first postseason start in her rookie season was denied by Paris starter Kenneth Price, who pitched an equally dominant 9 innings with just 6 hits, 1 walk, and allowing a single run, all in an efficient 102 pitches. Cox left the game in the 9th with a 1-1 tie, having thrown 116 pitches, yielding to closer Leong.

The stalemate went on for what seemed like forever – after a Francis Chen double to put him on base at the bottom of the 11th, the Montis passed up two potential chances to score – the first when Chen (speed 70/100) was stopped at third on a Derek Lew single to leftfield (not wanting to challenge LF Luciano Ferrant’s 91-rating arm), and another on Salgu Wissmath’s flyout to right (with RF Willis Hoffman’s 84-rating arm).

It was finally down to bottom of the 15th frame, with 2 outs in the bag. By this time, the Forfeiters had exhaused 3 pitchers and were on their 4th reliever, middle reliever Bobby Kantor. Josiah Leong, drawing from his experience as a converted starter, had muscled through an astonishing 7 shutout innings in relief, utterly dominating the Forfeiters to the tune of allowing just 2 hits, a walk, and a hit batter, while striking out 10 batters. With 2 outs against Kantor, RF Francis Chen, just 1 for 6 on the day, reaches base on a hit by pitch. With the aura of a man who’d been here many times before, Daly City all-time great Derek Lew strolled up to the plate.

Stepping up to the plate is… first baseman Derek Lew.
He is 2 for 6 tonight with a double.
There are two down, the count at 3 balls and zero strikes.
A walk here would bring up shortstop Salgu Wissmath.
Lew waits for the 3-0 pitch…
Lew swings…
LINE DRIVE to left-center
a long run for Luciano Ferrant, but he’s got the stronger arm.
He is running fast…
it rolls to the wall…
Lew is heading for second…
and this time there is NO hesitation for Francis Chen, he is blazing past 3rd…
Chen slides, the throw will not be in time…
and Lew will have the game winner, the series winner with a stand-up RBI double!!!

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The 2007 Playoffs: League Series Recap

Game Recaps

The Longhorns weren’t quite the gimpy pushovers Daly City expected, taking over game 1 by jumping on Esguerra for 5 runs (though only 3 earned, the rest coming off of third baseman Salgu Wissmath’s fielding error).  Going into the bottom of the 8th, Daly City was down 2-4 when they began mounting a comeback, with a 2-out solo homer by DH Skyler Reid in the 8th inning, and a 9th inning rally that saw both RF Francis Chen and the tying run, Derek Lew, reach base, only to have Chen picked off the bag right before catcher Tina Quach hit a bases-clearing (and potentially game-tying) triple.  Alas, with only 1 run in, and a subsequent groundout by Wissmath, the game ended in a stunning 4-5 loss for the Montis, their first playoff loss since last year’s league championship round against the Longhorns.

The success would be short-lived for Microsoft, however, as Daly City proceeded to pounce on the notably feeble Longhorns starting pitching, who gave up 23 earned run on 41 hits and walks in just 14 innings over the next four games (a horrific 14.79 ERA and 2.93 WHIP).  The entire team had 213 plate appearances, notching an absurd .369-.404-.591 line over the 5-game series.  Of the 9 starters (min. 14 plate appearances), 7 had OPS greater than .900 (5 over 1.000).  Notably, Kuo, Wissmath, Lew, and Quach had huge series. Kuo slapped in 12 hits on 25 at-bats and was 4-for-4 stealing bases (though without any walks and just one extra base hit, for a .480-.480-.520 line); Wissmath accumulated a few less hits and a few more walks from the #2 slot behind Kuo to post a .381-.480-.524 line; Lew was the primary slugger, driving in a triple, homerun, and FIVE doubles in the short series to post a .391-.375-.826 line and tie for the lead with 9 RBIs; Quach was limited in her platoon duties with Paz but made the most of her chances, posting the best rate stats – .500-.571-.833 – in just 14 plate appearances.

While the UL series settled itself predictably, fans got the wild shootout they hoped for in the SWL, where the Pentax Shake Reducers’ mighty one-man offense duked it out with the overwhelming and deep Paris pitching staff.

The first two games went the Shake Reducer’s way, though they were close.  Game 1 started off with a slugfest, with the Forfeiters scoring all four runs off homeruns by 2B Christian Lee (solo homer in the 2nd) and SS Lamont Sanchez (3-run homer in the 6th). As so many teams have learned over the course of the season, however, it’s hard to win a slugfest against the Pentax Shake-Reducing Machine, who piled on all six of their runs off of FOUR homers to win the game.

Game 2 shifted the stage dramatically, with a looming pitcher’s duel between staff aces Kyle Katarn and Augusto Figueroa.  Katarn pitched well, holding Pentax slugger Skywalker to no homeruns and no RBIs for the first time this postseason, but his Shake Reducer counterpart Augusto Figueroa stole the show, holding the Forfeiters to just 2 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 10 en route to a brilliant complete game shutout.

Luck began to turn to the Parisian side in Game 3, where the slow and steady Forfeiters’ offense scored in all but two innings in the first six frames to race to build up a 5-0 lead, enough to withstand a 4-run 7th by the big-play Pentax offense (built mostly on a bases-loaded-clearing double by leadoff hitter Alberto Munoz).  Now for the second straight game, Skywalker was without either a homerun or an RBI, an uneasy sign for a Pentax team that had come to rely on his offensive production.

The Shake Reducers seemed to come to life after that loss however, with Skywalker and shortstop Noe Pessoa answering the call with a pair of homeruns each (five RBIs between them), to just edge out the Forfeiters 6-5 (though it was a game of blown opportunities for Paris, who got on-base 18 times compared to the Shake Reducers’ 6).

Faced with a comfortable 3-1 series lead, and needing to win just once in the next 3 games, things were looking swell for the Shake Reducers and Skywalker to return to the championship game.  But it would all come crashing down in the very next game, a rematch of the Game 2 pitcher’s duel between Kyle Katarn and Augusto Figueroa. This time the Forfeiters hitters were ready, and pounced on Figueroa for 11 hits and 3 walks over 7+2/3 innings.  Katarn, meanwhile, dominated the Paris offense in allowing just 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run in his 3rd complete-game victory of the playoffs, even shutting out Gates Skywalker (0-for-4) for the first time.

Game 6 featured another pitcher’s duel, this time between Rex White (1 run over 7+1/3 innings) and Warren Hobson, who after his embarrassing 7+2/3 inning, 13 on-base, 7-run loss in game 3, seemed to have figured out the Paris lineup, pitching 8+2/3 innings and allowing just a single run.

Down to the top of the 9th, with 2 outs and just the Paris leftfielder James Talmage left to close out the inning in a 1-1 tie game, Hobson finally ran out of gas, having thrown an extraordinary 143 pitches.  Yielding way to Pentax bullpen, the Frenchman Gary Manseau promptly gave up a single to put Talmage on base, prompting the call for closer Alva Bilbao.  Down to their last out, RF Willis Hoffman blasted a double to drive in Talmage and stake the Reducers to a 2-1 lead, which Forfeiters’ aging closer Garfield Yocum was able to close out for the save.

Finally, it all came down to the deciding Game 7. Facing the inconsistent Parisian Kenneth Price, who after his dominant 8-inning, 1-run opening victory against Tokyo had been bombed for at least 5 runs in his last two starts (losing both Games 1 and 4 in the series), Pentax jumped to a modest 5-3 lead after 6 innings, on the strength of another 2-run shot by Gates Skywalker at the bottom of the 6th to take the lead.  After giving up another hit (leadoff double by Noe Pessoa) to get into more trouble in the bottom of the 7th, Paris pulled the shaky Price for young sophomore reliever Bobby Kantor, who finished out the bottom of the 7th and 8th innings perfectly.

After using up all of Reinaldo Valdeluji for 7 innings and 127 pitches, Pentax finally brought the bullpen at the top of the 8th, starting the shaky Alexander Larson (5.36 career ERA), who promptly got himself into trouble with a walk and then a single to allow Willis Hoffman and Lamont Sanchez on-base.  With the go-ahead run now at the plate, the Shake Reducers brought out their second bullpen option, the similarly shaky Gary Manseau (5.17 career ERA). The results weren’t any better – Manseau gave up 3 more hits before he could close out the inning, staking the Parisians to a slim 1-run lead, and the Shake Reducers would not battle back after that.

Thus ended the latest run by Gates Skywalker, who tried to muscle his team into the World Series (he went .458-.490-.1.354, with 13 HR and 20 RBI in just 12 postseason games). But even his awe-inspiring output couldn’t stake the Shake Reducers to a lead they couldn’t blow – in total the Shake Reducer bullpen threw 5 innings in the series, with a 7.20 ERA, and 2.80 WHIP.

The theater of action now moves to the Universal Championship, with the potential to feature several epic pitching matchups between Daly City ace Yan, who has pitched two complete-game shutouts so far and has thrown 37 K’s in 18 innings while only allowing 4 walks, against the SWL’s best pitcher Kyle Katarn, who’s 3-1 in 4 starts with a 1.29 ERA and 0.69 WHIP in 35 innings (and has also gone 4 for 4 in complete games, one of them an 8-inning loss).

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