It was guaranteed that the NL champ would come from the NL South for the 5th consecutive season, as division rivals Iowa and Tampa squared off in the best of 7. In each of the first two games, Tampa came from behind late to steal the 2-0 series lead. Iowa got another superb start from Bruce Mullens (7 innings, 1 run) in game one, but the bullpen could not hold on, as Tampa comes up with 5 runs in the 8th to erase a 4-1 deficit. Kid Flair delivered the 2-run, 2-out hit to give the Dons the lead. In game 2, Iowa’s Cutter Darr staked the Rounders to a 4-0 lead in the first with a big 3-run blast off Rob Cormier. Tampa got huge lifts from a couple bench players as Ronnie Rapp got his team back into it with a pinch-hit 3-run homer in the 5th to cut Iowa’s lead to 2. And when Harry “Met Sal” Lee was able to come out of the pen and give his squad 3 scoreless/hitless innings, the Dons positioned themselves to make a comeback for the second straight game. Flair played hero again with a 2-run homer in the ninth to put Tampa ahead by a run, and closer Alfonso Villafuerte closed the door for the second straight game. Game 3 was more of a typical contest for these two clubs, as Clinton Puffer spun a beauty (7 innings, 1 run) in Iowa’s 2-1 win, thrusting his team back into the series. Sammy Cochrane got the big 2-out RBI hit in the 8th to put the Rounders ahead to stay. Doug “Buck” Rogers was the hard luck loser (7 innings, 1 run.) Tampa got great pitching in the next two games from Rich Sobolewski (8 shutout innings) and Rob Cormier (6 innings 0 earned runs) to seal the series with wins of 4-0 and 7-2. Game 5 was a 2-1 contest through Iowa’s half of the 6th, but Tampa was able to break it open with 3 homers the rest of the way, including another pinch-hit blast by Rapp. Tampa ends Iowa’s quest for the Three-peat (I use the term with Pat Riley’s permission), and get back to the series for the 3rd time in 5 seasons.
Iowa had another great
season and looked to be on a mission to win their third consecutive
title. There’s no doubt they will be back next season to add to their
legacy and do whatever it takes to win it all! Great job.
AL Championship Series, Trenton stormed out to a 3-1 series lead with a
couple of dramatic come-from-behind wins of their own. Game 1 was a
great pitching performance by co-ace Karl Hurst and three relievers to
stake them to the early series lead with a 3-1 win. Game 2 saw the
Thunder come back from a 4-1 deficit by scoring 6 in the final two
frames to win 7-4. John "lil Ichiro" Suzuki and Don Fukudome "No Fukudome You" each had a 2-run HR in
the 8th to go ahead. LA took game three 4-3, on a brilliant pitching
performance by Derek Hardtke, who tossed 4 innings of relief for the
win. In game 4, Trenton survived a 5 run first inning by LA (Darren
Ferguson and Andrew Gipson HR’s with ducks on the pond) to come back
again and win 8-6. A couple of 2-out RBI hits by Victor Morales and
Ober Furcal tied the game in the 5th, and Javier Rivera and Suzuki
supplied the RBI’s in the go-ahead 7th. In game 5, the Dodgers again
staked themselves to a 5-nil lead in the 1st on another 2-run blast by
Ferguson, and a homer by Tony “The Crooner” Bennett. This time, they
were able to make it hold up, as Paul Merrick throws 6 innings, giving
up only 1 run on 5 hits and a walk. LA starter Don Wallace (7 innings,
1 run, 5 hits, 1 walk) comes up huge in game 6, outdueling Pat “Puffy”
Combs in the 2-1 win that forces a game 7. In the do or die finale, the
Thunder took a 6-5 lead to the 8th. Trenton’s Suzuki had a couple
homers and LA got some big timely hits by the likes of Bennett and
Geovany Molina. But Trenton broke it open in the 8th on a Victor
Morales 3-run homer, and the Thunder hold on to win game 7 and advance
to the World Series for the second time in 3 seasons.
another terrific season, and definitely has a championship caliber team.
You know the Dodgers are built to win for the long haul, and should be
back in a position to contend for the title next year. Great job.