Saturday, October 22, 2005


LA Xtreme v. Cleveland Bulldogs
Game 3

Coming home with an unexpected 2 games to none lead over the Los Angeles Xtreme, the Cleveland Bulldogs kept coming home, as home runs dominated game three. Cleveland defeated LA 6-0 behind four home runs and a stellar performance from Mike Mussina, who gave up only three hits in going the distance. LA starter, Johan Santana struck out ten in six innings of work, but was plagued by the long ball, giving up three round trippers.

The Bulldogs started early, striking in the first inning. With two out and J.D. Drew on first via a walk, Mark Teixeira sent one over the wall to put Cleveland up 2-0. Santana held the Bulldogs in check until the sixth inning when Adrian Beltre hit a solo shot with one out. Josh Phelps followed with a single and Michael Cuddyer joined the hit parade with a monster shot to left, and a 5-0 Bulldog lead. The scoring for the night ended in the seventh when Drew, following the formula for the evening, homering off reliever Kiko Calero.

Only two Xtreme runners advanced as far as second base, as Mussina masterfully held LA in check.

LA now has its backs to the wall as the Bulldogs look to pull off an improbable sweep.

Denver Bears v. New York Knights
Game 3

Managing just six hits, the New York Knights made each one count as they defeated the Denver Bears 6-1 to take a 2-1 lead in their division playoff series. Rich Harden pitched well for the Bears, but Pedro Martinez was better for the Knights. Harden gave up only 4 hits and struck on 6 in seven innings of work, but Martinez only allowed the one run in his seven innings on the hill.

Denver scored its lone run of the game in the fourth. With Ivan Rodriguez on first and two out, Lyle Overbay lashed a triple to score Rodriguez. The Bears threatened to score again in the sixth, but Chipper Jones was thrown out at the plate on a fine throw by Knights right fielder Vladimir Guerrero. Overbay then flied out to center, leaving two Bears stranded in scoring position.

New York started its comeback in the bottom of the sixth. Rafael Furcal led off the inning with a single and quickly scored on Tony Womack’s triple. Chone Figgins then followed with a sacrifice fly to put the Knights ahead for good, 2-1. The Knights however were not through in the sixth. Guerrero drew a walk and stole second. With two out, Vernon Wells sent one out to left and upped the Knights lead to 4-1.

The Knights closed out the scoring in the eighth off of Denver reliever Kyle Farnsworth. A lead off single by Womack was followed up with a two out blast down the left field line to make the final 6-1.

Portland Posse v. Orlando Renegades
Game 3

It took eleven innings, but the Portland Posse held of the home team Orlando Renegades, 3-2, to take a three games to none lead in their best of seven series. Pitching was the order of the night as Posse starter Carlos Zambrano gave up only one earned run in his seven innings of work. He however was not rewarded with a win as that honor went to reliever Ramiro Mendoza, who pitched one and a third innings of scoreless ball. On the other side, Roger Clemens pitch a solid nine innings for the Renegades giving up only two runs on five hits. He also recorded seven strikeouts.

Portland opened the scoring in the second. With two out, Clemens surrendered a solo shot to Jorge Posada. This seemed to throw Clemens off his game as Derek Jeter followed with a walk and promptly stole second. Corey Koskie then singled up the middle and Jeter raced home for the 2-0 lead. Clemens then settled down and held the Posse at bay through the ninth.

Orlando squandered a number of opportunities on the night. In the second, the Renegades loaded the based with one out, but Calvin Pickering grounded into an inning ending double play. The Renegades did score in the fifth courtesy of a solo homer by Tony Batista, to cut the lead to 2-1.

Orlando scored a single run in the seventh to knot the game up, but the damage could have been worse. Andruw Jones led off the inning with a double and Pickering followed with a walk. With one out Wilson Delgado lined a single to center and Jones was safe at the plate on an error by Posada. But with two still on an only one out the Renegades were not able to draw additional blood. The Renegades were also able to get the winning run in scoring position with two out in the tenth, but eventual winner Mendoza struck out Jeff Kent to end the threat.

The Posse put themselves in front in the eleventh off of Renegade reliever Trevor Hoffman. A one out double by Damion Easley put Portland in business. Hoffman seemed headed out of trouble when he struck out Cliff Floyd for the second out of the inning. But following an intentional walk to Posada, Mark McLemore, hitting for Jeter, dumped a single down the right field line that brought in Easley with the eventual game winner.

The Renegades however did not go down without a fight. Jones led off the eleventh with a double and advanced to third on a ground out by Pickering. But neither pitch hitter Todd Pratt nor Edgar Renteria could bring Jones home.

The Renegades now look to avoid the sweep in game four.


Orlando Renegades v. Portland Posse
Game 1

In weather more conducive to ice hockey, with a game time temperature of 36 degrees, the Portland Posse opened the NLDS against the Orlando Renegades with an 8-3 victory. Portland sported the NL’s best regular season record at 101 and 64, while the Renegades (89-74) had to claw their way into the playoffs by beating the Baltimore Bayards in a one game playoff.

The Renegades opened the scoring in the top of the first, but the Posse retaliated in the bottom of the inning scoring four runs off Renegades starter Odalis Perez, making it a 4-1 ball game.

In the sixth, the Renegades tallied twice to draw within one run at 4-3. The Posse however, put the game away in the sixth scoring four times on Perez and starter turned reliever Woody Williams.

Posse pitching was shaky at times, giving up seven hits and five walks, but Schmidt, Mike Remlinger and Ramiro Mendoza combined for twelve strikeouts and induced two double plays to keep the Renegades in check.

Game 2

With the temperature nearly twice as warm as the night before, the Portland Posse brought their 1-0 series lead into game two of the NLDS with the Orlando Renegades. The Posse however, kept the Renegades on ice, defeating them 6-3 for a 2-0 series lead.

This time the Posse struck first, scoring three times in the bottom of the second off Renegades starter Tom Glavine. Derek Jeter lead off the Posse second with a double and came home on Jose Cruz’s RBI single. Jorge Posada followed up with a single of his own. After a Rondell White out, Corey Koskie cleared the bases with a triple, upping the Portland lead to 3-0.

The Renegades wasted no time in getting back into the game plating two runs twice in the top of the third off Posse starter Jaret Wright, to make it a 3-2 ballgame. Tony Batista led off the inning with a walk and moved up to second on Wilson Delgado’s single. Following a Jim Edmonds fly out, Manny Ramirez walked to load the bases. Gary Sheffield’s single drove in a run and left the bases jammed. Javy Lopez then drew a walk, scoring the second run of the inning and leaving Orlando set up for a big inning. However, Jeff Kent grounded into a rally killing 6-4-3 double play.

Portland stretched its lead in the fifth scoring two runs and sending Glavine to an early shower. Rey Sanchez led off the inning with a walk, but was wiped out on a fielder’s choice by Bobby Abreu. With one out Ryan Klesko drew the innings second walk, and Xavier Nady’s single brought home Abreu with the run. That was all for Glavine and the Renegades brought in Rudy Seanez to stop the bleeding. Jeter’s single however scored another Posse run. Seanez got out of the jam by inducing a double play.

The Renegades crept back into the game, scoring once in the top to the seventh to narrow the Posse’s lead to 5-3. A triple by Calvin Pickering and a sacrifice fly by Delgado brought home the run. The Posse responded however in the bottom of the inning adding an additional run for the 6-3 final. Back to back doubles by Abreu and Klesko accounted for the run.

Posse fortunes were assisted by four double plays and 10 Renegade strikeouts.

Cleveland Bulldogs v. LA Xtreme
Game 1

The rattle felt in Los Angeles last night was not from an earthquake but rather the shock of the Xtreme faithful after their team fell 6-5 in ten innings to wildcard qualifier the Cleveland Bulldogs. The Xtreme breezed through the NABL regular season with the best record at 102 and 60. The Bulldogs meantime fought to an 89-73 record and the wild card berth by one game.

The Bulldogs jumped on Xtreme starter Josh Beckett in the first inning for three runs. After the first, Beckett pitched well, giving up only one more run before leaving after eight innings with a 5-4 lead.

LA started its comeback in the bottom of the third putting up a single run, making it a 3-1 game. The Bulldogs lengthened their lead in the seventh with a single run to make it a 4-1 game. The Xtreme erupted in the bottom of the inning though scoring four times and taking the lead 5-4.

With the one run lead and Xtreme reliever Eric Gagne entering the game to pitch the ninth, Xtreme fans felt comfortable. Cleveland however knotted the score in the ninth.

The Xtreme could not break through in their half of the frame and the game went to extra innings. With Gagne still pitching the Bulldogs pushed across a run and held on for the extra inning win.

Game 2

Demonstrating that their game one victory was not a fluke the Cleveland Bulldogs made it two in a row with a 4-2 victory over the heavily favored LA Xtreme. Cleveland starter Jaret Weaver went the distance in beating Xtreme starter Tim Hudson.

As with the night before, the Bulldogs started the scoring in the top of the first with a single run. Cleveland added two more runs in the fifth to up their lead to 3-0.

LA finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh picking up a single run on a Carlos Beltran solo shot, which made it a 3-1 game.

In the ninth Cleveland added another run, increasing their lead to 4-1. LA managed a run in the bottom of the ninth, making the 4-2 final.

New York Knights v. Denver Bears
Game 1

Perennial NABL power the New York Knights traveled to playoff newcomer the Denver Bears for game one of the ALDS. New York came away victorious 6-4.
The Knights started Freddy Garcia against the Bears Randy Johnson. The Knights pushed across a run in the first, but the Bears quickly responded with two of their own in the bottom of the inning. The Bears expanded their lead with single runs in the second and the third for a 4-1 lead. In the top of the fourth however, the Knights unloaded on Johnson, tallying four times and taking the lead for good at 5-4. New York added a single run in the sixth to close out the scoring. After his rocky start, Garcia managed to work into the eighth inning before Jason Isringhausen came on for the save.

Game 2

Game two of the series between New York and Denver was far different than Game one, with runs at a premium. Behind a three hit, nine strike out performance by Bears starter, Curt Schilling, Denver pulled out a 2-1 victory in 10 innings to even up the series at one game a piece. Following five innings of shut out ball by Knights starter, Jon Lieber, the Bears struck first. Chipper Jones led off the sixth with a single and Ivan Rodriquez’s double to the gap in right center allowed Jones to scamper home.

Meanwhile, Schilling had given up only one hit through seven, when with one out in the eighth, Troy Glaus homered to left to tie up the game. New York had a chance to go ahead following Rafael Furcal’s two out triple, but Tony Womack grounded out to end the threat.
With neither team able to mount a challenge in the ninth, the game went to extra innings. Facing Knights’ reliever Justin Duchscherer, Scott Rollen led off the inning with a double. Following a strike out by Jones and an intentional walk to Rodriguez, Moises Alou lined a double to left to end the game.

NLDS Recap: Game 4

The faithful at Network Associates Coliseum had the brooms out hoping for a sweep of the Pike Rangers, and the hometown California Terrapins did not disappoint. Terrapins’ starter Joel Pineiro and reliever Travis Harper combined on a two hitter for a 5-1 victory to close out the series with the Rangers.

The Terrapins opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning against Rangers starter Chris Saenz. Adam Dunn began the inning by striking out, but John Mabry stroked a single to right. After Mike Lowell popped out to catcher A.J. Pierzynski, Adam LaRoche singled and Royce Clayton walked to load the bases. Benjie Molina then grounded one up the middle that scored Mabry and LaRoche for a 2-0 Terrapins lead.

In the bottom of the third the Terrapins struck again. This time following a lead off single by Mark Kotsay, Albert Pujols delivered his fourth homer of the series, this one to deep left field, giving the Terrapins a 4-0 lead.

The Rangers only real threat came in the fourth when they loaded the bases with no one out. An error, a walk, a single and a sacrifice fly by Dave Dellucci netted one run, but that was all the Rangers could manage. The Rangers only other challenge was a lead off double by Kit Pellow in the seventh, but Pineiro stranded him there.

The Terrapins final run of the evening came in the bottom of the seventh. Kotsay led off the inning with a double, but was doubled up trying to advance on a fly ball to centerfield on a good throw from Kenny Lofton. However, Ranger reliever Bobby Howry walked Adam Dunn and then allowed a single to Mabry, which moved Dunn up to second. Lowell then followed with a single that drove home Dunn with the last run in the Terrapins 5-1 victory.

After the game, Ranger general manager, Tom Carusillo commented, “Though they took nine of twelve from us in the regular season, I hoped we would have a better showing. Obviously, they are the better team and we wish them luck.”

The celebration in the Terrapins clubhouse was spirited, but unobtrusive. While the players and coaches toasted victory with champagne and beer, GM Michael McKee was more reflective. "We have the utmost respect for the Pike players and their entire organization. They are a class act. We expected this to be a hard fought series, and it was. All of the games were closer than they appeared and we were fortunate to play well and get some breaks. The Rangers hit the ball hard the entire series with men on, but luckily for us, it was right at someone and our guys made the plays. Not enough can be said about our team and the way they prepared for this series. We knew we would have to play well, and the veterans on the team responded to the challenge. We are looking forward to the League Championship Series and playing whoever survives the Orlando-Portland series.

The Terrapins now move on to the National League Championship Series.

NLDS Recap: Game 3

Though the location changed, the results did not; as the California Terrapins pounded the Pike Rangers 7-2 to take a three games to none lead in their best of seven series. Rangers’ starter, T.J. Tucker was victimized by a first inning two run home run by Albert Pujols. The Ranger fought back in the top of the third with consecutive singles by lead off hitter A.J. Pierzynski and Joe Randa leading up to an Alex Gonzalez sacrifice fly to cut the Terrapins lead to 2-1, but could not do further damage in the inning.

The Terrapins came right back in the bottom of the third, with Ryan Freel, who had been hit by a pitch and advanced to third by Mark Kotsay’s single, scoring a run on a sacrifice fly by John Mabry to take a 3-1 lead. The Rangers cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the fourth on a solo home run by Kit Pellow. The Terrapins answered in the bottom of the fourth with another single run scoring with two outs on a single by Yadier Molina and a double by Royce Clayton, to make it a 4-2 ballgame.

The Terrapins tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth with the help of a Rangers error. With two out, shortstop Alex Gonzalez booted a ball by Adam Dunn. Mabry’s single moved Dunn to second and Mike Lowell’s double brought home Dunn and upped the Terrapins lead to 5-3.

The Rangers loaded the bases in the sixth with only one out, but could not manage to push across a run as pitch hitter Aubrey Huff lined out and Pierzynski grounded out to end the threat. In the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, the Rangers had a runner in scoring position, but the Terrapins relief combination of Travis Harper and Amaury Telemaco shut the door.

The last runs of the evening came in the bottom of the eighth when pitch hitter Jayson Werth followed Lowell’s lead off single with a deep homer to left off Rangers reliever Guillermo Mota.

Terrapins pitching gave up seven hits and issued six walks, but the Rangers could not take advantage as they stranded ten base runners. “We certainly had opportunities, but we did not execute on offense” said Ranger general manager Tom Carusillo after the game. He added, “We had too many line drives that found defenders instead of grass.”

The Terrapins looked to wrap up the series in four straight when the teams meet again tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

NLDS Recap: Game 2

Despite high hopes, game two of the NABL playoff between the Pike Rangers and the California Terrapins ended with another Ranger defeat; this time 5-3. The Rangers’ woes began in the first inning. Starter Kip Wells walked lead off man Ryan Freel and followed that up with consecutive singles to Mark Kotsay and Albert Pujols. The single by Pujols drove in the first run of the game and put men at the corners with none out. Wells retired Adam Dunn on a strike out, but a single by John Mabry plated the Terrapins’ second run. Another Wells strikeout, this time of Mike Lowell took some of the pressure off, but Adam LaRoche singled for the third run of the inning. Wells then finished the inning by striking out Yadier Molina, but the damage was done and the Terrapins held a 3-0 lead.

Orlando Hernandez took the mound for the Terrapins, but immediately ran into trouble of his own. Leadoff man Jerry Hairston, Jr. drew a walk and B.J. Surhoff singled him to third. Ben Broussard fouled out to Molina, before Kenny Lofton grounded out to first scoring Hairston. The inning ended when Dave Dellucci popped out to short, leaving the Rangers down 3-1.

Both teams went down in order in the second, but the third inning saw more scoring. Pujols led off the Terrapins’ third with a homer to deep left making the score 4-1, but Wells settled down to retire the next seven in a row. In the Rangers’ half of the third, Hernandez gave up a leadoff double to Alex Gonzalez and following a Hairston strike out, Surhoff hit a flare to short center that was not deep enough to score Gonzalez, leaving runners on the corners with only one out. Broussard picked up the slack with a single, driving in Gonzalez and making the score 4-2. Lofton flew out to center field, before Hernandez walked Dellucci to load the bases. Kit Pellow drew a bases loaded walk as the Rangers pulled to within 4-3. A.J. Pierzynski’s line shot to short was caught and the Rangers’ rally stalled. From there Hernandez retired the next eight Rangers in order.

The scoring concluded in the seventh. Following a single and a walk given up by Wells, Chris Hammond entered the game. Hammond retired the first man he faced, but gave up an RBI single to Lowell, making the score 5-3.

The Rangers’ best chance to overtake the Terrapins came in the sixth inning when following two outs, Pierzynski and Joe Randa hit back to back singles. Gonzalez however struck out to end the Rangers’ last threat. Credit for holding the Rangers goes to Travis Harper who entered to start the eighth inning and in two innings of relief gave up only one hit while striking out two.

Following the game a disappointed Ranger general manager, Tom Carusillo, said: “This should have been our game. But for the first inning we played well. Against a good team like the Terrapins you cannot give them a big inning and expect to come back.”

The series now shifts to California where the Rangers hope that warmer weather will also mean a change in their fortunes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

NLDS Recap: Game 1

Pike Rangers v. California Terrapins


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.