Indy Giants 9, So Cal Indians 3
‘Giants in control from start to finish, capture crown’
By Stefan Modrich, special to MSBLNational
November 5, 2016, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, AZ– The Indy Giants haven’t had to worry about much with ace Jeff Johnson on the mound. They proved that much and more in a 9-3 win over the SoCal Indians to capture the 45+ WB Cactus ‘Wind Jacket’ Division Crown Saturday night.
Even after a rocky start to a first inning, in which Johnson gave up four hits and walked a batter, allowing the Indians to take an early 1-0 advantage, the big right-handed hurler stayed poised and worked six scoreless frames to secure the win.
Johnson even helped himself out at the plate, going 2 for 4 with two singles, as well as a hit-by-pitch. Johnson was one of only two players on either side to steal a base Saturday, the other was SoCal starter Mike Fortunato, who went the distance in the loss.
While Johnson said he felt in control once he settled down after a rocky start, he was wary that the Indians could climb back in. “I had trouble getting my curveball across,” Johnson said. “I started going to the slider, and started getting them out.”
Tony Christ led the way for the Indians at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a walk and two singles.
Johnson added he “ran out of steam” and had trouble finding the strike zone in the ninth, allowing the Indians to plate another run late, but by keeping the ball in play, he was able to let the Giants defense finish the job, getting three flyouts to retire SoCal in the final frame.
With the Giants tacking on runs steadily each inning, including the second, when Indy went up 3-1 thanks to singles by center fielder Rick Matthews and designated hitter Greg Strydesky.
“The offense kept getting the lead back and expanding it,”Johnson said. “The defense was pure. We’ve struggled with some defensive moves, and we actually made some great defensive moves here at the last minute. It was a great tournament.”
The Giants defense kept the Tribe out of scoring position for most of the night, and so the timing of Indy’s three-run rally in the eighth was enough to stamp out any sparks that could lead to a SoCal comeback, trailing 9-2 in the bottom of the ninth. The top of the Indy order – second baseman Scott Golden, Johnson, and shortstop John Smith – all reached base in the inning after Golden (who was hitless entering his final at-bat) ignited the three-run burst with a single. Extra hitter Bill Harris cleaned up with an RBI single that scored both Johnson and Smith, after Smith brought home Golden with a base hit.
Giants coach Mike Shadoan said Indy may have had a smaller roster than some of the teams they faced, but they showed enough heart and grit to overcome their challenges throughout the tournament. “Our offense really carried us throughout the week,” Shadoan said. “The bats were pretty much always there for us. We persevered, had a few injuries, but we’ve gutted it out, and here we are.”Never losing sight of the fact that the Indians had gotten the better Giants 7-2 in their previous matchup, Shadoan and the rest of the Indy squad used that as motivation to come out on the winning end when it mattered most. “We kept that in the back of our minds,” Shadoan said. “(Last time) was a game we thought we should have won. We’re glad we came back and got the revenge.”
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Indy Giants 1 2 0 0 1 1 1 3 0 9 14 0
SoCal Indians 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 13 2
Indy – Johnson: 9 IP, 3 ER, 3 strikeouts, 13 hits allowed
SoCal – Fortunato: 9 IP, 7 ER, 5 strikeouts, 14 hits allowed
WP: Johnson LP: Fortunato SV: None
Leading Hitters: SoCal – Christ (2 for 3, BB) Geivet (1 for 4, RBI) Indy – Smith (3 for 4, 3 RBIs) Strydeski (2 for 4, BB)
SAC: Golden (Indy)
SB: Fortunato (SoCal), Johnson (Indy), Smith (Indy),
Time of Game: 2 hours, 20 minutes