Redwood Empire (CA) 35+ Continental League

Giants 13, Twins 12

Submitted by Colby Phelps, Redwood Empire Giants

The 35+ Continental League playoffs in the Redwood Empire Baseball League in Sonoma County, California featured three former champions in the Pirates, Blacksox and Twins, plus the two-time bridesmaid Giants. The Giants and the defending Champion Blacksox concluded their series first with a Giants sweep of the loaded Blacksox, led by aces Kasey Olenberger and Jake Carrillo, and also capped with a clutch eighth inning home run from Giants leadoff hitter Devin Campbell in game two to win the series for the Giants. The Twins were shutout in game one of their series by hard throwing Pirate right hander Mike Nackord, but rebounded with a 21-16 slug-fest victory over the Pirates in game two. The Twins took a lead deep into game three but the Pirates fought back to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, only to succumb to the youthful Twins in extra innings, giving the league a match-up of the Twins and Giants in the Championship Series.

In game one of the Championship, Twins lefty starter Brian Miller pitched a gem, holding down the Giants and taking a 9-2 lead in to the bottom of the ninth. The Giants mounted a furious rally and scored eight runs off of three different pitchers in the ninth, getting a walk-off double from third basemen Dave Molidor to steal game one, 10-9.

The drama continued in game two the next day, although the drama turned to tragedy as Giants first basemen and manager Kenton Lewis learned of the untimely death of a family member during the game. Both teams stopped the game as all the players from both teams gathered around Kenton, and after the stoppage Kenton and his wife left the park. The gracious Twins recovered more quickly than the Giants and earned a hard-fought 12-7 game two win, forcing the deciding game three an hour later.

Minutes before the beginning of game three, Kenton Lewis returned to the park andgathered the Giants together, imploring them to play ball alongside him. As the game got underway, 100 degree heat in the Sonoma Valley bore down on both teams, but offense was not effected early as each team roared at each other from the plate. Mid-game, Giants righty starter Manny DeLao saw his effort stopped short by cramped muscles and dehydration and had to leave the mound. In came southpaw center fielder Mike Hall for the Giants, who threw everything he had at the Twins but witnessed their hard-nosed resolve as the Twins kept scoring, drawing the game to a tight 12-10 Giants lead.

Late in the game, Hall got help from both sides of the ball, getting an incredible throw from Giants left fielder Rene Morales to cut down a run at the plate by charging a base hit and delivering a one-hop seed to the plate to kill a Twin rally. Hall also got a clutch two out hit from the hobbled DeLao to add an insurance run in the bottom of that inning. In the top of the last inning, clinging to a 13-12 lead with two outs and the bases loaded, Hall got hot Twins cleanup hitter Craig Holden to pop up to Kenton Lewis, as Kenton recorded the last out of a long season and a very long day. The Giants celebrated their first Continental League Championship and were congratulated on the field by the classy Twins ball club.

Outstanding players for the Twins in this series are Rob Trindle, Craig Holden, Billy Dodson, Clinton Yeager, Harvard Graham, Adam Thompson and Brian Miller. For the Giants, they got Championship performances from Devin Campbell, Manny DeLao, season MVP Dave Molidor, Kenton Lewis, Kasey Olenberger, Jake Carrillo, Rene Morales, Colby Phelps and game three MVP Mike Hall.