Redwood Empire Baseball League, 35+ Continental Division
Giants 9, Blue Jays 5
‘DeLao Shuts Down Jays on the Bump’
Submitted by Colby Phelps
The 35+ Continental League playoffs in the Redwood Empire Baseball League in Sonoma County, California featured three former champions in the Pirates, Black Sox and Giants, plus the 2017 bridesmaid Blue Jays. The Pirates, skippered by REBL Commissioner Rick Cantor, are the defenders of three straight titles and holders of the 2018 Cy Young and 2018 Hall of Fame inductee, right handed starting pitcher Barney Kaufman, plus former Arizona Diamondback minor league slugging third baseman Travis Ogelsby.
Barney’s game one opponents would be the Blue Jays, who still remember losing the 2017 Championship to these same Pirates. Barney and the Pirates easily prevailed with an 11-4 victory. However, fortunes changed in games two and three the next day. The Blue Jays mustered their bats and slugged it out with the Pirates, ending the ninth inning locked in a 10-10 tie. In extra innings, Blue Jays shortstop Adam Turrey, who started the game on the mound and pitched through porous defense, and aided by a home run from Ogelsby, somehow had the strength to continue pitching through the 12th inning, still tied. In the 13th inning the Blue Jays scored and held on to win 13-10, forcing game three. In game three the Blue Jays stayed resilient and captured a Championship berth by beating a tired Pirates team 23-3.
The Giants dispatched of the Black Sox with a two-game sweep and were waiting for the Blue Jays. The Continental League now had a Championship matchup between the 2014 Champion Giants, and the emboldened Blue Jays, who defeated the Giants in round one of the Playoffs the year before.
Game one came on a rainy Saturday, with the Giants choosing southpaw starter Mikey Hall to lead the way while the Blue Jays countered with their own southpaw, skipper Mark Meinhofer. Both pitchers had to deal with the rain, but the Blue Jays were still hot after their first round victory as they had a seven run lead late in to the seventh inning, thanks to booming hits from second basemen Sean McDonald, injured pitcher Dan Wood, and Adam Turrey. In the bottom of the seventh, with two outs and rain dripping from the helmet of Giants left fielder Casey Thornhill, a rally was started. Casey drilled a base hit to Left and then 2018 MVP first basemen Andy Weber was hit by a pitch. With two men on and two outs, up stepped Andy’s younger brother, Giants catcher Teddy Weber. Teddy saw one pitch and grunted loudly while he swung. As he leaped out of the box, he yelled “GET OUT OF HERE!” as everyone in attendance stood up. Through the wind and the rain the ball sailed deep into the afternoon, clearing the fence in left field and rushing a bolt of lighting through the Giants. It was a 3-run home run and now the score was 11-7.
In the bottom of the ninth Teddy came up again, and he did it again. He blasted a 2-run homer down the left field line, making the score 11-9 as everyone at the park went nuts. Next up was former Cincinnati Reds Rookie Ball third baseman Dave Molidor. Dave battled and with two strikes he hit a high deep drive down the line in left. He waved it fair and past the rain and it was gone! Back to Back jacks now had the Giants down by one, 11-10. It was not to be for the Giants, however, as the Blue Jays were tough and got a save from right hander Wayne Pelletier, winning game one, 11-10.
Taking the ball for the Giants in game two was Manny DeLao, their skipper and new second basemen, playing in place of injured All Star Jack Woo. DeLao’s game two opponent would be righty ace Adam Turrey, who had a 1-0 Series lead in his back pocket. The crafty DeLao gave his Giants a shot in the arm by delivering a straight-up gem, going all nine innings only giving up three hits, no walks and two runs. The Giants won 13-2, with four RBI from speedy Centerfielder Ricky Corzo and two RBI each from Andy Weber and outfielder Colby Phelps, and the emergence of infielder Jerrod Elwell, who was in at second base for DeLao. Jerrod got on base four times and played a perfect second base.
As game three approached and ibuprofen bottles were tossed back and forth, there was talk amongst the Giants of who should take the ball. “Manny, take the ball”, was chanted and so Manny did, starting his second game in a row, this time facing Blue Jay right hander T. Pointer. The Blue Jays scored early, but the Giants answered back with an opposite field RBI hit from Phelps. DeLao gave it all he had, pitching five innings, totaling 14 innings on this day, giving up six hits and four runs. Jerrod Elwell was again stellar at second base, making three separate diving plays while saving DeLao’s hide and finishing innings for the Giants. In the fifth a hot shot was hit up the middle. Short Stop Allen Marshall slid, caught and scooped the ball towards second base, with Jerrod sprinting over to the bag. Jerrod caught the ball one-handed and then turned and threw over the sliding runner to first, completing a huge inning-ending double play. Elwell yelled with joy as he bounded in to the dugout to wild hugs from the Giants.
With this momentum big Andy Weber blasted a two-run home run deep to right field, giving the Giants a three run lead. The Giants knew the Blue Jays would answer, so the Giants hitters kept coming. Catcher Klinie Kent and Jerrod Elwell got two hits each, with Klinie scoring twice thanks to Jerrod’s game high three RBI. Now the Blue Jays had the task of facing the Giants big righty Dave Molidor the rest of the way.
Dave slashed at the hearts of the Blue Jays with 85 mph fastballs and sliders down. Still, the Blue Jays fought through the sixth, seventh and eighth scratching out one run off Molidor. It was 9-5 Giants in the ninth as the Blue Jays loaded the bases, with the tying run at the plate. For one final time in 2018, Molidor reared back and kicked, throwing a fastball down and away, getting a ground ball towards the middle that was deftly picked by Allen Marshall. With a snap of his arm and a laser to first base, Marshall got the third out and the celebration began for the 35+ Giants, who had won a hard-fought 9-5 victory.