Monday, October 17, 2005

NLDS Recap: Game 1

NLDS
Pike Rangers v. California Terrapins

GAME 1

On a chilly night at Jacobs Field, the Pike Rangers made their debut in NABL post-season play. The excitement of making the playoffs for the first time faded however, as the Terrapins’ bats warmed up late in the game to carry the Terrapins to an 8-3 victory. The Terrapins rode home runs from Jason Werth and Albert Pujols to put the Rangers away.

Rangers ace Glendon Rusch squared off against Terrapins counterpart Ben Sheets. The Terrapins looked to strike first when Mark Kotsay led off the game by reaching second base on an error by Rangers shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Rusch however, set down the next three batters to end the threat.

The Rangers also looked to get off to a fast start in the first inning. Jerry Hairston led off the Rangers’ half of number one with a double, which was followed by a B.J. Surhoff single. But, with runners on second and third, Ben Broussard popped out to short and Sheets showed signs of things to come as he struck out Kenny Lofton and Dave Dellucci to end the inning. Sheets would end the game with eight strike outs.

The Rangers drew first blood in the second inning. Kit Pellow led off with a single, which was followed by an A.J. Pierzynski single to right. Werth’s throw to third, trying to cut down the advancing Pellow, was off target and Pellow came in to score, making it 1-0 Rangers. Sheets however, induced three fly ball outs around an error by Terrapins catcher Gerald Laird to end the threat. From there, Sheets settled into cruise control, setting down the Rangers in order in four of the next five innings. Only a harmless Surhoff double in the fifth interrupted Sheets’ string.

On the other side, Rusch breezed through the first three innings with little difficulty. However, leading off the top of the fourth, Pujols slammed a tripled and Mike Lowell brought him home with a sacrifice fly to left field to knot the score at 1-1. The big blow for the Terrapins came in the sixth, when with two out Lowell walked and Werth made up for his error in the second by sending one out of the park, putting the Terrapins up 3-1.

The Terrapins chased Rusch in the seventh when Adam Dunn and Cristian Guzman led off the inning with back to back singles. Brian Meadows relieved Rusch, but following a fielder’s choice that moved Dunn up to third, Kotsay hit a sacrifice fly to plate the run, making the score 4-1. The eighth inning started poorly for Meadows and the Rangers. Pujols led off with a single and advanced to third on Lowell’s first hit of the night, a double. Werth then followed up with a sacrifice fly, making the score 5-1 and sending Meadows to the showers. Ray King entered the game for the Rangers and the Terrapins countered with pitch-hitter Royce Clayton. Clayton hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to drive home Lowell, upping the Terrapins’ lead to 6-1.

The Rangers tried to mount a comeback in their half of number eight. Hairston led off with a single and advanced to second on a ground out by Surhoff. Broussard followed with a double that chased Hairston home to cut the lead to 6-2. Broussard advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Lofton was not able to drive him in as he flied out to Werth in right. Sheets then walked Dellucci. A passed ball by Terrapins reserve catcher Yadier Molina brought Broussard home to make it a 6-3 game. But that was all for the Rangers in the eighth as Sheets struck out Pellow to end the threat.

The Terrapins put the game away in the ninth. Guzman led off the inning with a single off of King. Following a Kotsay out, Guzman was cut down trying to steal and it looked like the Rangers would escape without further damage. However, Placido Polanco singled, bringing up Pujols. Not wanting to let Pujols face the lefty King, normally reliable Bobby Howry was brought in to end the threat. Pujols then crushed a homer to make it an 8-3 game and cap off the scoring for the Terrapins.

The Terrapins sent Keith Foulke to the hill to close the game out for the Terrapins, but he got off to an inauspicious start, hitting Rangers lead off man Pierzynski. A fly out by pitch hitter Aubrey Huff was followed by a single from Gonzalez to put runners on the corners with only one out. Foulke however, finished off the game without further damage.

After the game, Rangers’ general manager Tom Carusillo commented: “This team lived and died this season based on timely hitting and pitching. Tonight we didn’t have either and we died. The Terrapins got almost every key hit they needed and their home run power carried them through. They executed well and we didn’t. Hopefully, things will pick up tomorrow.”

The second game of the series will see Kip Wells face off against Orlando Hernandez.

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