Sacramento Giants 6, San Jose 2
By Jeff McGaw
Hohokam Stadium, Nov. 5, 2011 –Just prior to the 50 National Championship game, in a small ceremony designed not to alarm the grounds crew, Dennis Viegas was laid to rest at second base in Hohokam Park – the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs.
“We were pretty discreet about it,” said Javier Campos, a former teammate and manager of the Sacramento Giants. Other, similarly stealthy ceremonies were held on other spring training fields throughout the week he said. “There’s a little bit of Dennis all over Phoenix,” the Giants skipper added with a bit of a chuckle.
Those Giants, including many of Viegas’ former teammates then paid the ultimate tribute to their fallen friend by claiming a 10-inning, 6-2 win over San Jose. The Giants scored four runs in the top of the 10th inning to break a 2-2 tie. Starting pitcher Jerry Toman’s safety squeeze in the top of the 10th scored Whitney Johnson with the go-ahead run. Jerry Rebensdorf added a two-run single in the rally. Toman then induced a game-ending 6-4-3 double play to end the game in the bottom half.
Over three hours earlier the team broke a pre-game huddle with a shout of “Dennis,” and then charged out onto the field for what proved to be the most difficult game of the tournament.
“Dennis is a good friend of ours and has been playing with us for years,” said Campos. “His unexpected death has been hanging over us.” Another friend, Dale Hall, was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, Campos said. Baseball is a reprieve from some of these troubles, and a way to heal he added.
Early on San Jose had the momentum. Leadoff hitter and second baseman Bobby Straight lined a sharp single in the first to open the game. San scored twice in the third on a walk, singles by Murray Brown and Don Chambers, and two fielder’s choice ground balls.
The Giants countered in the fifth when Toman doubled in Dave Absher. Catcher Steve Welch’s RBI single tied the game in the fifth inning.
And then there was offensive silence until the top of the tenth when, with one out, Whitney Johnson and Absher singled. San Jose starter John Yandle was pulled for Brian Kingman. Toman, who was the first to face Kingman, executed a perfect safety squeeze and wound up with what proved to be the game-winning single.
Toman did what San Jose could not – bunt successfully. San Jose hitter Rich Zuvella’s sacrifice attempt in the bottom of the ninth inning turned into a 1-to-6 fielders choice. A batter later Toman induced a 4-6-3 double play – one of three double plays on the day.
“It comes down to small ball at our age,” said San Jose coach Mike Zamba. “They got the bunt down and we didn’t. ”
San Jose starter John Yandle, a Stanford alum, former Padres and Angels farm hand, and batting practice pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, yielded just four hits on the day including two in the first nine innings. “Yandle gave us all he could today,” Zamba said. “He battled all the way. He was tough. We let him down.”
The Giants did not name an MVP. “It was a different guy every game,” Campos said. He did praise the effort of starter Jerry Toman – also the winning championship game pitcher in each of the past two World Series. “He was nails,” Campos said. Rebensdorf also earned a pat on the back. “He played with a quad pull and he’s been sick for the last three days, but the guy has made some fabulous plays at the right time.
Toman and Welch. Yandle, Kingman (9) and Jim Hadley. WP-Toman. LP-Yandle. Leading Hitters- (Giants) Toman 2×4, R, 2RBI; Rebensdorf 1×3, 2RBI; Absher 2R. (San Jose) Hibbard 2×4; Brown 2×3. 2B-Toman. SF-Welch. DP- Giants 3; San Jose 2; LOB—Giants 6; San Jose 6. TOG: 3:12