Redwood Empire (CA) 35+ Continental Division
Pirates 8, Giants 7
‘Complete Team Effort Secures Title for Pirates’
By Rick Cantor, Pirates manager
The 2015 Pirates claimed their second 35+ Continental League title in Sonoma County’s Redwood Empire Baseball League with a series sweep of the defending champion Giants.
The Giants came into the postseason as the top seed, sporting an 18-2 regular season record. They dispatched the fourth seed Twins in the semi-final playoff round by the scores of 7-6 and 12-1. The third seed Pirates (13-7 regular season record) also swept their semi-final series against the second seed Blacksox, 29-16 and 8-2.
In game one, the Pirates sent Cy Young winner Barney Kaufman (5-1 record, 2.45 ERA) to the mound, while the Giants countered with runner-up Jake Carrillo (5-0 record, 2.29 ERA). After an uneventful top of the first inning, the already short-handed Pirates lost starting shortstop and middle-of-order bat Steve Wiley to a pulled calf muscle and would be lost for the series.
The game remained scoreless into the top of the third when the Pirates rallied with two outs an nobody on. Mitch Tucker walked, went to second on Brian Kobler’s single, and both runners scored on Mike Brennan’s double as the Pirates took a 2-0 lead. The Pirates would extend that lead to 3-0 in the top of the sixth as Mitch Tucker was again the catalyst. Tucker led off with a single, advanced to third on a Brennan single, and scored on an errant throw on an attempted double-play grounder. However, in the bottom half, the Giants would respond. Rene Morales led off with a single and courtesy runner Jerred Elwell stole second. After two outs, lead-off hitter Manny Delao singled and scored Elwell. Following a Delao steal of second base, Jack Woo walked and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Devin Campbell then singled, driving in both runners and tying the game at three.
Following a scoreless top of the seventh the Giants would rally again in the bottom half. With one out, Elwell and Morales both singled to put runners on the corners. Following a pickoff of Morales at first base for the second out, Greg Scharich singled to score Elwell. Scharich advanced to second on a passed ball, then scored on catcher Isaac Laprade’s single. Delao continued the trend as he singled to advance Laprade to second. Jack Woo then singled again and Laprade rounded third to score, but halfway to home he tripped and fell and was thrown out at the plate. The Giants now led 5-3.
The Pirates went down quietly in the top of the eighth and brought in Shane Francisco to pitch. After one out, the Giant’s put together two singles from Dave Molidor and Kenton Lewis to put runners at first and second. Shawn Purcell then hit a high shallow popup to right field that was misplayed for an error, scoring Molidor and increasing the Giants lead to 6-3 heading into the top of the ninth. Mitch Tucker led off for the Pirates and singled. After lead-off hitter Brian Kobler grounded into a forceout, Mike Brennan singled for his third hit of the day. Kaufman then singled as well, loading the bases with one out. Pirates cleanup hitter Wayne Chinapen then deposited a Carrillo knuckleball over the fence in right-center field for a grand slam and a one run Pirate lead. Bobby Ritter then singled with the bases now empty and Scott Mckenna followed with a walk. Pirates manager Rick Cantor then singled to right, scoring Chinapen and extending the Pirates lead to 8-6. Pete Sikora followed with a single, loading the bases with one out. The Giants brought in Greg Scharich to relieve a tiring Carrillo, who proceeded to strike out Mike Mastroyannakis for the second out. Shane Francisco grounded into a forceout to end the inning and the Pirates went to the bottom of the ninth with an 8-6 lead.
Rene Morales led off the inning for the Giants with a single. Courtesy runner Jerred Elwell then advanced to second base on an errant pickoff throw and then scored on a single by Greg Scharich. Elwell came in again as the courtesy runner for Scharich and represented the tying run. Isaac Laprade flew out to right for the first out of the inning, bringing up the Giants lead-off hitter Manny Delao. On the first pitch, Elwell took off for second base and advanced to third as the throw sailed into centerfield, bringing the tying run to third with one out. The Pirates’ Francisco bore down and struck out Delao looking for the second out, and then struck out Jack Woo swinging for the third out to preserve the Pirates 8-7 game one victory. Francisco earned the win while Carrillo was credited with the loss.
Game two of the series matched up league MVP Dave Molidor for the Giants against 2014 Cy Young winner Rick Cantor for the Pirates. A Pirates gaffe on the second pitch of the game set the table early for the Giants, as Manny Delao reached second base on a dropped fly ball to right. Jerred Elwell followed with a walk, and Devin Campbell drove in the first run of the game with a single, scoring Delao and giving the Giants an early 1-0 lead. The Pirates would answer in the bottom of the first as Brian Kobler walked to start the inning. Fielding issues then worked in the Pirates favor as Mike Brennan reached base on an errant throw from the Giants second baseman. Scott Mckenna then singled to load the bases for Wayne Chinapen. Chinapen grounded a ball to first base that was misplayed for an error, scoring Kobler and tying the game at one. Bobby Ritter then cleared the bases for the Pirates with a double, scoring three runs and giving the Pirates 4-1 after the first inning.
In the second, Jack Woo led off for the Giants with a single. Following a stirkeout, Colby Phelps reached base on an error by the Pirates shortstop, bringing in Woo to score and cutting the Pirates lead to 4-2. The Pirates went down in order in the bottom of the second and the Giants went scoreless in the top of the third. With a 4-2 leading heading into the bottom of the third, Kobler led off with a single. After a flyout for the first out, Scott Mckenna walked. Chinapen then drove a ball down the right fielder line for a double, scoring Kobler and extending the Pirates lead to 5-2.
That score held until the top of the fifth inning. After two quick outs, Isaac Laprade of the Giants singled and stole second. Michael Hall following with a ground ball to second base that was misplayed for an error, scoring Laprade. Delao then singled to left and the ball got by the left fielder for an error, putting runners at second and third. Elwell then singled to score both runs, giving the Giants a one run lead. Elwell proceeded to steal second base and Devin Campbell followed with a single to score him. Dave Molidor then hit a slow roller to short that was miplayed for an error, scoring Campbell and extending the Giants lead to 7-5.
That score held into the eighth inning as the time clock was winding down, thus making the eighth inning the last inning of the game, barring a tie. The home team Pirates went into the bottom of the eighth trailing 7-5. Wayne Chinapen led off with a single, following by a single by Ritter to put runners at first and second. Cantor then singled to left, scoring Chinapen and cutting the deficit to one run. The Giants relieved a tiring Molidor with Manny Delao, who faced Pete Sikora with runners on first and second with no outs. Sikora singled to right, scoring Ritter and putting the winning run on third with no outs. Mike Mastroyannakis was intentionally walked to load the bases, bringing up Shane Francisco. With the infield and outfield in, Francisco grounded a single through the infield, scoring Cantor and giving the Pirates the walk-off win and championship series victory. Rick Cantor earned the complete game win while Dave Molidor took the loss.
The Giants were led by Devin Campbell (5 hits, 4 RBI’s, Triple, 2 SB’s), Jerred Elwell (4 hits, 2 RBI’s, 2B, 3 SB’s), Jack Woo (4 hits, 2 Runs, 2 SB’s), and Manny Delao (4 hits, 3 Runs, SB). Both Jake Carrillo and Dave Molidor pitched well, and as always, their sportsmanship was off the charts. The Giants are a tremendous team that rolled to 20-4 season but just came up short in their quest for a second consecutive league title.
The Pirates were led by Wayne Chinapen (3 hits, 6 RBI’s, 2B, HR), Mike Brennan (5 hits, 2 RBI’s, 2B), Brian Kobler (3 hits, 4 Runs), Bobby Ritter (3 hits, 3 RBI’s, 2B), Shane Francisco (Winning Pitcher G1, GW RBI G2), and Rick Cantor (4 hits, 2 RBI’s, CG Win G2). Scott Mckenna (3 hits, 3 walks) played the series two days after surgery to remove an abcess from a ruptured appendix and Brian Kobler played on a pulled hamstring and a torn rotator and labrum in his left shoulder. But the light shined brightest on series MVP Shane Francisco, whose clutch relief pitching saved the game one victory, and then notched the game winning, walk-off RBI in game two’s win. His performance was especially noteworthy since his father passed just a few days before the series began.