2021 Giants Sweep Tigers for 35+ Continental Crown at Redwood Empire (CA)

2021 Redwood Empire Baseball League, 35+ Continental Division

Giants 20, Tigers 5 (Game two in best of three series sweep)

‘Derek Delatorre and the Weber brothers lead the way to the Giants 3rd capture of the R.E.B.L. Continental League 35+ Title’

By Colby Phelps, Giants manager

October 25, 2021…The 35+ Continental League playoffs in the Redwood Empire Baseball League in Sonoma County, California featured two former champions in the Pirates and Giants, also the 2017 bridesmaid Blue Jays and the new Tigers. The R.E.B.L. was able to pull-off a complete 20 Game Regular Season during a pandemic year full of uncertainty, thanks to the tireless work and guidance of outstanding League Commissioner Rick Cantor. And now, the Playoffs have arrived. 

The 1st Round of the Playoffs featured a slugfest between the vaunted Pirates (#2 seed) and the upstart Tigers (#3 seed). The Pirates are managed by Scott Mckenna and are the defending champions and boast 4 All Stars and Cy Young Hall of Fame right-handed pitcher Barney Kaufman. The Tigers, managed by excellent catcher Skyler Delzell, came on strong in their 1st season in the Continental League with 4 All Stars and have the youngest team in the Division. 

Game 1 came on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon and saw Pirate ace Barney Kaufman take the ball for the Pirates, against outstanding Tigers big right hander Wayne Pelletier. The Pirates took an early lead but the young hitters for the Tigers roared back and shocked the Pirates with 15 Hits and 17 Runs, with a huge momentum changing 3 Run Home Run from big Tigers 3rd basemen Jesse Asher, off of a changeup from Kaufman. Pelletier went 7 strong for the Win. On Sunday In Game 2 the defending champ Pirates stormed back to even the series with a 16 to 6 victory, forcing the deciding Game 3 later that day. 

In Game 3 the Tigers rose up and threw down the Pirates with a thunderous attack, scoring 17 Runs again by knocking 25 Hits and coaxing 7 free passes. Emerging starting pitcher Matt Archer of the Tigers dominated the Pirates with the right-handed Archer only giving up 7 hits and 3 Runs over 8 strong innings to give his Tigers a Championship berth.   

The other 1st Round matchup featured the 2 Time Champion Giants (#1 seed) and the ultra-scrappy Blue Jays (#4 seed). The Jays are managed by league favorite Mark Meinhofer and All-Star Dan Wood. The Giants Managers Colby Phelps and Andy Weber decided on a new approach: everybody plays. With 15 players, this meant the lineup featured many A/B slots. Every single player hit in the Playoff lineup, and why not? Every single Giants hitter had good seasons, as the Giants captured the #1 seed by going 17-2-1, and feature 8 All Stars, 3 former CL MVP’s in Steph Bussell, Casey Thornhill, Andy Weber, a former Pro pitcher in Paige Dumont, and a dynamic duo of All Star 1st basemen Andy Weber and his younger brother All Star catcher Teddy Weber. Unfortunately for the Giants, their young 1st year player and All-Star outfielder/lefty closer Jake Moelter decided to get married in Italy during the 1st Round, and was not available. His last name is Moelter, why Italy? Get married at a winery in Sonoma, meat. He was fined $25 dollars in kangaroo court for this transgression. Unlike the Pirates vs Tigers series, this 1st Round series gave the Continental League a clinic in pitching and defense. 

Game 1 came on a misty Saturday morning at Glen Hurley Memorial Field. The Giants sent All Star ace and 2021 ERA title winner Derek Delatorre to the mound. Delatorre beat out Hall of Famer Kaufman by 0.02 points for the ERA title.

The clouds gave way to sunshine with the coming of the 1st pitch. The Giants applied serious pressure to the Jays by scoring 2 Runs in the 1st inning and then 3 more Runs in the 3rd inning, while Delatorre dazzled on the mound with 5 straight scoreless innings, aided by a spectacular defensive play in the top of the 1st inning from All Star Left Fielder Casey Thornhill who caught a would-be SAC fly in Left for the 2nd out and then gunned down the tagging runner from 3rd at the plate to send the Giants bounding back in to the dugout with excitement. The big hit for the Giants came from Thornhillin the 3rd inning, when he smacked a 2 strike, 2 out Double to plate the 4th and 5th runs, which would be the difference in Game 1.
The Giants would not score more than these 5 Runs, as Blue Jay All Star righty ace Adam Turrey went the distance on the mound and shut down the Giants after the 3rd inning. Turrey was bested by Delatorre, who also went the distance and gave up 3 Runs, 1 earned, in 9 innings of outstanding pitching in which he scattered 8 hits and no walks while striking out 5 hitters in a 5 to 3 Giants victory. Giants players marveled at the performance of Delatorre, who got 1 out in the 9th with only his 70th pitch. The game was 2 hours and 4 minutes long. A Greg Maddux game. 

Game 2 the following day saw a matchup of Blue Jays right hander T. Pointer and Giants All Star southpaw ace Mikey Hall

Hall is good at frustrating hitters with his nerve and panache on the mound. He is a big game pitcher with the guts of a burglar, having previously won the Giants a title with his arm. In this Game 2 Hall quickly established his fastball and curve, deftly keeping the Jays away from scoring for the first 3 innings, dampening their chances in their must-win Game 2. He got into trouble in the 4th inning, surrendering 3 Runs, but his Giants backed him up by scoring 3 Runs themselves, with catcher Teddy Weber leading the way. In this Game 2, Teddy wore 2 Hit By Pitch, took a Walk, stole a base and scored 3 Runs, capping his winning day by bombing an RBI Double in the 8th, all while executing a great pitching plan with Hall and closer Casey Thornhill. While on 2nd base in the 8th inning of this game, after catching all day for the 2nd day in a row, the Giants got a hit from Jimmy Wells and Teddy ran through a stop sign at 3rd and barreled to home, screaming and then diving headfirst to break up the tag and he scored. It was an incredible display of heart and toughness. Madness? Maybe. All of this gave the Giants 10 Runs, and Teddy was responsible for 5 of them. The series coffin nail was firmly applied by Teddy Weber and the Giants secured their Championship berth with a 10 to 5 Game 2 victory. A showdown in the Championship Round with the powerful and young Tigers loomed, only 5 days away. 

In Championship Game 1 on a perfect Saturday morning at Sonoma State University, a special matchup brewed as both teams warmed up, with the affable and young Tigers ready to pounce and the older Giants tossing around bottles of ibuprofen. The surging Tigers dispatched big righty ace Wayne Pelletier once more, to pitch against the Giants star right hander Paige Dumont. Unbeknownst to the Tigers, Paige started for his other team in the 25+ the night before, going 7 innings. As he warmed up in the pen, he was literally starting Game 1 on 13 hours rest! Did the Giants managers blink an eye? Absolutely not. This is Paige Dumont, he’ll be fine. 

Wayne Pelletierand theGiants have history together, as the fierce Pelletier has matched up against the Giants many times, and has won several times, including handing the Giants one of their two losses in 2021. However, Paige Dumontis a weapon of epic proportions. The 6’-8” Dumontplayed in Single A ball for the Philadelphia Phillies organization in 2007. Game 1 start time arrived, with the sun breaking through the clouds and shining on the best field in the league. Paige stood tall on the mound, a picture of steely intimidation. Paige throws very hard and features a bugs bunny changeup, and the Tigers were kept off the scoreboard, but they were not intimidated as they had runners in scoring position every inning including the pivotal 6th inning. The Giants lost a chance to score a run in the 1st inning, when #2 hitter Jake Moelter tried for an inside-the-park Home Run, on a Triple to Left Center field. Alas, Moelter was leaking olive oil as he rounded 3rd base and was gunned down at the plate with a terrific tag by Tigers catcher Skyler Delzell

Too much wine in Italy for Jake, he had just returned from his wedding adventure. The Giants attempted to get on the board in the 2nd inning, and with 1 out Jimmy Wells got a hit up the middle and lefty Colby Phelps drilled an opposite field hit to Left. However, big Wayne Pelletier shut it off and went back into the Tigers dugout still locked in a scoreless tie. The two pitchers dueled in a 0-0 game until the Giants scratched out 1 Run in the bottom of the 5th inning, on a broken steal of 3rd attempt by Derek Delatorre. Derekstumbled and got in a pickle between 2nd and 3rd. Tigers 2nd baseman Billy Dodson hurried a throw as Delatorre scrambled for 3rd, the throw trickled away from 3rd baseman Jesse Asher and Delatorre raced home to score the game’s 1st Run. 

 Is it better to be lucky than good? A pickle turns into a Run in a dynamic pitcher’s duel in Game 1. In the aforementioned 6th inning, the Tigers were looking for an answer. Their starter Wayne Pelletier was pitching the game of his life against the Giants stacked offense, but was down 1 to nothing. The Tigers gathered in their dugout and shouted their team name and grabbed their bats, pacing back and forth in the dugout. They loaded the bases with nobody out. They had the heart of their order coming up. Dumont then struck out the next 2 hitters, getting great fingers from catcher Teddy Weber to silence the momentum of the rally, and then got a pop-up to end the inning. The pitcher’s duel continued deep into the 8th inning, in a 1 to nothing game. Giants All Star #9 hitter Manny Delao had a great at bat and worked a Walk. Pelletier was wary of the steal, and picked over to 1st base several times. #10 hitter Ricky Corzo saw this and then executed a beautiful SAC bunt to advance Delao into scoring position.

Corzo is a speedy Center Fielder and student of the game, and his instincts to be team-first delight his Giants. His bunt fired up his team, and ultimately gave them an insurance Run as Jake Moelter strode to the plate with 2 outs. Jake hit a dying quail to shallow Left Field just out of reach of excellent Tigers shortstop Jorge Martinez, it ticked off of Jorge’s glove and Delao raced home scoring the 2nd Run of the game for the Giants. Paige Dumont returned to the mound in the 9th inning and secured a complete game shutout to open the Championship Round. Paige scattered 9 Hits and 4 Walks with 9 strikeouts against a super tough Tigers team, getting the Game 1 Win 2 to 0. Paige just threw 16 innings in 15 hours. With all the runners a “tired” Dumont allowed, his defense was big behind him, anchored by Delatorre at shortstop, Steph Bussell and Jimmy Wells at 3rd, Delao at 2nd, and Andy Weber and Ben Sturtevant at 1st. It was a beautiful defensive masterpiece. Pitching, and defense. 

Championship Game 2 came the next day, Sunday at Piner High School. This game saw over 60 fans in attendance, and excitement on both sides was building. The Giants had the Game 1 victory in their back pocket, and sent their beloved righty ace Derek Delatorre to the mound, to hopefully capture the title. The Tigers were looking for a Win and then to outlast the older Giants in Game 3, and they countered Delatorre with their Round 1 clinching Game 3 hero, righty Matt Archer. Leading off every Playoff game for the Giantswas Left Fielder Casey Thornhill. He is a master of taking the Hit By Pitch, as he’s a former college player and we now know what his coach loved the most: wearing the HBP and then sprinting to 1st base. Casey did exactly that. In a sign of nerves shaking Archer, he would hit the #2 hitter also, Jake Moelter, and now was in trouble. Archer shook it off and got a quick out and then coaxed a 4-6-3 Double Play and the Tigers raced into their dugout with momentum. 

Then the Giants went down 1-2-3 in the top of the 2ng inning, and the Tigers hearts were beating with life. In the bottom of the 2nd inning Tigers All Star 2nd basemen Billy Dodson would smack a leadoff Single and hustle it into a Double, popping-up from his slide with a big smile and a fist pump. Billy would take 3rd base on a ground ball, and then score on a SAC Fly from Tigers outfielder Chris Carter. Delatorre got the 3rd out, and the Giants came into the dugout down 1-0.

And then, the top of the 3rd inning would unfold. Manny Delao sparked the rally with a clutch lead-off Single that he hustled into a Double, just like Dodson did the inning before. Ricky Corzo then stepped up and dropped a perfect sneak attack bunt down the 3rd base line. A SAC wasn’t enough for Ricky this time, as he tore down the 1st base line and beat-out the throw from Asher. The Giants were majorly sparked by Delao and Corzo, and their dugout got loud. In fact, these plays from Delao and Corzo were the fruits of the leadership of Andy Weber, who at the beginning of the inning asked his team to “play together, for each other, and do the little things to get on, advance, and score.” With 2 men on base at the corners, and nobody out, the top of the order came up for the Giants. Casey Thornhill wore ANOTHER Hit By Pitch, to load the bases. Jake Moelter took an RBI Walk, the game was tied. Both Weber brothers then gave the Giants RBI Hits, with Mikey Hall then giving his team an RBI Hit and Jimmy Wells, Jackie Woo andSteph Bussell took Walks and scored to light-up the scoreboard. When the dust settled after the top of the 3rd, the beleaguered Archer had been dinged for 8 Runs, and was out of the game. 

The Tigers threatened again in the bottom of the 3rd inning, needing to score to get back in the game, and got a Single from All Star Mitchell Hackwood and a Double from big Jesse Asher, runners on 2nd and 3rd base with only 1 out. Tigers outstanding All Star #5 hitter Tom Hoobler stepped up to the plate. Giants catcher Teddy Weber went to the mound, and just as he’s done all year he said the right things to Delatorre, who then twirled a nasty strikeout and then got a great play at 2nd base from Manny Delao to silence the rally from the fighting Tigers. This was a big moment, as the Tigers score runs in bunches and are a powerful team. However, their fortunes changed again when Archer and tremendous Tigers #3 hitter Hackwood would really be out of the game, with both players ejected by the home plate umpire for arguing balls and strikes. Yelling ensued between both teams. 

In the top of the 4th inning, the Tigers would see 2 different pitchers surrender 5 more Runs to the Giants. The Giants got clutch hits from outfielder Rene Morales, Ricky Corzo, 2 more Hit By Pitch by Thornhill and Moelter, hits from both Weber brothers, a hit from sweet swinging lefty Ben Sturtevant, and a long Double from Jimmy Wells. Wellshad emerged as the Giants most-clutch hitter and was making the most of his trip through a tremendous inaugural season with the Giants. This RBI Double off a high fastball sent a bolt of lightning deep into the outfield and lit-up the dugout of the Giants, firing up his team and the crowd by adding to his fable, ultimately ranking him tied for 2nd in hitting and RBI for the Giants in the 2021 Playoffs.

  It was now 13 to 1, Giants, in the top of the 6th inning. The specter of the league’s Playoff Mercy Rule was at hand, as any team with a 15 Run lead after the 7th inning would get the automatic Win. The Giants scored again in the 6th and the fans witnessed the awesome display of hitting from Giants Designated Hitter Jackie Woo. Jackie was injured and couldn’t throw, but that did not get in the way of him lashing his first of two opposite field line drive hits this day, and he then scored to ignite the 4 Run rally. The Giants got a monstrous bases loaded 3 RBI Double from Paige Dumont, and it was now 17 to 1. Woo would not make an out this day, with a Walk and 2 Hits, 2 Runs Scored and an RBI out of the 7th spot in the lineup. Woo is a United States Marine, as is Jimmy Wells, both are playing hurt and both of these men are leaders on the Giants.

In the bottom of the 6th inning, Derek Delatorre got 3 more outs and he danced off the mound with a huge lead in his hand and was welcomed into the dugout with hugs and ata boys. His day was done on the mound. In the top of the 7th, the Giants knocked on the door with 2 more Runs, with Colby Phelps taking a Walk and scoring on an RBI hit from Thornhill, and Manny Delao getting another Hit and scoring on an RBI Hit from Moelter. This Giants offense was now holding a 19-1 lead, 15 Run Mercy Rule Win in full view. The Giants weren’t sure how to feel about a Mercy Rule Win, the Tigers didn’t like it either, but a conference with the umpires left the two teams with no choice. Mercy Rule holds sway, no matter what the managers could or would agree to. In the bottom of the 7th inning the Tigers were fed-up with the way this game was going, and erupted for 4 Runs off of reliever Mikey Hall.The Tigers burly 1st basemen Drew Zarnoch would get a line drive hit and would score a Run on an RBI ground ball from Jorge Martinez. And then the Tigers rallied with a Double from Chris Carter, a Walk from Skyler Delzell, and then big Jesse Asher deposited a long 3 Run Home Run over the Left Field wall for his 2nd of the Playoffs. Hallgot one more out by handling slugger Tom Hoobler and the 7th inning ended. The score was hotly bandied about and there was pointed talk between both teams as glances were thrown at each other from across the field as players moved to their positions. It was 19 to 5 and the Mercy Rule was avoided, by a single Run, by a ticked-off Tigers team that rose-up and swung the bats in the 7th. The 8th inning began.

Coming up 1st for the Giants in the top of the 8th inning was catcher Teddy Weber. 

  If ever there was a player to avoid in a game that got heated, where words and glances were offered, it is Teddy Weber. He’s tough and very strong, maybe a sandwich or two short of a picnic. He refuses to wear batting gloves at the plate and uses his welding gloves instead. Being behind the plate all day, 2 days in a row and front and center dealing with the talk that spurred the ejections, and then the arguing about the score and Mercy Rule, he was hot under the collar. He got a first pitch fastball and yelled when he swung his 34” Swing M bat. He drilled a long opposite field laser into the Right Center gap and raced around 2nd base and thundered into 3rd with a dive and a cloud of dust. It was a leadoff Triple. There is the Run the Giants needed, 90 feet away. Up steps Mikey Hall, and he promptly whacked a fly ball to Center Field, scoring Weber on a SAC Fly. Jackie Woo would get another line drive hit, but the scoring was completed for the Giants. They were up 20 to 5, going to the bottom of the 8th. If the Giants got 3 more outs, the game would be over, the trophy would be in the Giants dugout. 

The Giants gave the ball to lefty closer Jake Moelter. Giants managers wanted to reward Jake for his incredible first season in the R.E.B.L., for all of his great play and perfect fit into a tight Giants team that has been together for 11 years. Jake took the ball, and threw hard, getting a pop-up, a comebacker, and an easy fly ball to secure the game, capture the CL 35+ Title with a Mercy Rule Sweep, and end the season on the mound, champagne incoming.

This is the Giants 3rd Championship in the CL 35+: 2014, 2018, 2021. Outstanding Championship Round players for the Tigers are Skyler Delzell, Jorge Martinez, Mitchell Hackwood, Jesse Asher, Wayne Pelletier, Josh Switzer, Drew Zarnoch. Outstanding Playoff players for the Giants are Derek Delatorre, Casey Thornhill, Andy Weber, Teddy Weber, Jimmy Wells, Paige Dumont, Ricky Corzo, Manny Delao, Mike Hall, and Jake Moelter. Playoff MVP goes to Derek Delatorre and Teddy Weber. Championship MVP goes to the Weber brothers – Andy and Teddy. Missing in Playoff action are Giants players unavailable for the Playoffs: catcher Klinie Kent, infielder Jerrod Elwell, infielder John Wedge