And so the 2013 TCBA season had come down to this: the number 1 seeded Scott Anacondas, winners of 119 games during the regular season, facing off against the scrappy upstart overachieving gamers known as the Solana Beach Bums. Both the Anacondas and the Bums have won a World Series…and in the year they did it, they beat the other team on their way to the title. That odd occurrence would clearly continue this year.
Game 1 – SA’s Gio Gonzalez vs SB’s Jeremy Hellickson. SB’s Danny Espinosa singled home Matt Wieters in the 2nd to open the scoring, but Scott countered in the bottom of the 3rd. Elvis Andrus led off with a double and scored on a David DeJesus single. Gio Gonzalez sacrificed DeJesus to 2nd and Matt Carpenter flew out, but David Wright came through with a 2-out rbi single to put Scott up 2-1. In the 6th, the Bums put runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs, but Fernando Rodney came on to retire pinch-hitter Charles Blackmon to stymie the threat. Rodney would be the first of 5 Scott relievers who would shut down the Bums on 1 hit over the final 3 2/3 innings. Jeremy Horst picked up the save, striking out 2 in the 9th as the Anacondas held on for the 2-1 win.
Game 2 – SA’s A.J. Griffin vs SB’s Chad Billingsley. With 2 outs and 2 on in the bottom of the 2nd, Scott’s David DeJesus doubled into the RF corner plating both A.J. Pierzynski and Jason Heyward. Then A.J. Griffin shocked the world by actually getting a hit, which was not only miraculous in itself but also managed to score DeJesus; Scott led 3-0. This held until the top of the 5th. SB’s Matt Wieters walked with 1 out and Starlin Castro followed with a single. Gerardo Parra grounded out to 2nd, but Scott couldn’t turn two. Mike Moustakas stepped to the plate with 2 outs and 2 on and proceeded to deposit Griffin’s pitch in the RF bleachers, tying the game at 3. Son of a biscuit! Both bullpens would come in and pitch strongly through the 9th inning as the score remained 3-3. But Scott finally got a rally going in the bottom of the 10th against Jesse Crain. Matt Carpenter led off with a double, then Crain intentionally walked David Wright. Drew Butera sacrificed the runners to 2nd and 3rd, but Carlos Gomez struck out. With 2 outs, Scott manager Dick Williams sent up Nolan Reimold to pinch-hit for Fernando Rodney…and Reimold proceeded to drill the ball deep over the outfielders’ heads! Matt Carpenter trotted home with the winning run as the Anacondas prevailed 4-3. Release the pigeons!! Scott led the series 2 games to 0.
Game 3 – SA’s Felipe Paulino vs SB’s Mat Latos. Scott’s Matt Carpenter singled home a second run in the top of the 2nd after the first had scored on an error as the Anacondas took a 2-0 lead, but Matt Wieters answered with a solo shot in the bottom of the frame to cut the lead to 2-1. 2 batters later, Paulino juiced a fastball…then walked off the mound holding his arm (just like real life!) and was diagnosed out for the series. Chris Tillman came on and got out of the 2nd. The Anacondas came out hissing in the 3rd in defense of their fallen comrade as A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Gomez launched back-to-back bombs and Scott quieted Bums Nation as they took a 5-1 lead. But just when the Bums fans were starting to lose hope, Mike Trout and Billy Butler hit 2-out, 2-run homers and the score was tied at 5 after 3 (Dick Williams was noted banging his head against the back wall of the dugout after Butler’s dinger). No one scored in the 4th or 5th, but Jason Heyward’s fly ball in the 6th plated noted speedster A.J. Pierzynski to put Scott up 6-5. Clinging to a 1-run lead, Dick Williams goes to Bums-killer Fernando Rodney in the bottom of the 8th; Matt Wieters doubled but Rodney struck out 3 to take the lead to the 9th. A.J. Pierzynski, having a great game, came up with 1 out and runners on 2nd and 3rd and lofted a medium deep fly to LF which plated David Wright with an insurance run. Rodney said “screw excitement” and struck out the side in the bottom of the 9th as Scott prevailed 7-5 to take a 3-0 series lead. Time to break out the brooms?
Game 4 – SA’s Gio Gonzalez vs SB’s Jeremy Hellickson. Gonzalez had pitched very well so far in the postseason, but sometimes it is just not your day. Solana Beach got going in the 2nd inning when Danny Espinosa and Hellickson hit back-to-back sacrifice flies. Scott came back with a run in the 3rd and then Matt Carpenter’s 2-run double keyed a 3-run 4th as the Anacondas took a 4-2 lead. Gonzalez could not hold the lead, though, as SB’s Starlin Castro drilled a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 4th to tie the game. SB’s Mike Trout continued the assault on Gonzalez with an rbi single in the 5th, and after the Bums added another run in the 6th Dick Williams finally made the long trudge to the mound to get his ace trailing 6-4. Hellickson worked through his early struggles and was mowing down the Anacondas into the 8th. After a double by A.J. Pierzynski, though, the Bums bullpen came into play. Shawn Kelley and Jerry Blevins managed to get out of the 8th unscathed, and after the Bums failed to score Kelvin Herrera was called on to close it out in the 9ths. SA’s Elvis Andrus greeted him with a single and, after PH Irving Falu flew out, Matt Carpenter doubled. The Bums manager nearly set a landspeed record getting to the mound, and on came Tom Gorzelanny. However, David Wright waited him out for a walk to load the bases with 1 out. The Bums made their 5th pitching change in the last two innings, bringing on Jesse Crain to face Edwin Encarnacion. The Scott faithful were feeling very good…but Encarnacion sent a routine fly ball out to LF; the runners made no attempt to advance as the base coaches stapled their feet to the bags. With 2 outs, Scott’s last chance was Jonny Gomes…but with Crain bringing the heat, Gomes swung through strike 3 for the final out. Solana Beach had held on for the 6-4 win, and now trailed 3 games to 1 in the series.
Game 5 – SA’s A.J. Griffin vs SB’s Chad Billingsley. Dick Williams, normally somewhat high-strung, appeared to be finding a new gear today. He did not want this series to go back to the SnakeDome and had filled the air with blue epithets of encouragement for the troops. After 2 scoreless innings the Anacondas struck first in the 3rd when Matt Carpenter led off with a single, went to second when Edwin Encarnacion walked, and scored on a 2-out single by A.J. Pierzynski. In the 5th David Wright smacked his first homer of the postseason to make the score 2-0 Scott. Meanwhile, Solana Beach went very quietly in the first 5 innings with Griffin surrendering only a single and a walk. In the top of the 6th with 1 out Scott’s Carlos Gomez doubled and Solana Beach made the move to the bullpen, bringing in lefty Jerry Blevins to face Jason Heyward. Despite the 5 handicap, though, Heyward drilled a single to LFer Michael Saunders and Gomez with his 19 speed raced around to score. Elvis Andrus then hit a twisting fly ball to Saunders which he misplayed and Scott ended up with runners on the corners. Williams faced a difficult decision on whether to let lights-out Griffin hit, and he chose to go with the bat. Up came Irving Falu…who dropped a soft liner into RF which scored another run while Andrus raced around to 3rd; 4-0 Scott. Matt Carpenter (another lefty) then singled to score Andrus. Solana Beach removed Blevins, who had failed to retire any of the 4 batters he faced. Shawn Kelley got out of the inning, but the Anacondas were feeling very good with a 5-0 lead. That feeling lasted about 30 seconds, long enough for Joe Nathan to come in and walk Chase Utley then groove a fastball to Mike Trout; 5-2 Scott. The Scott dugout mikes on Dick Williams were threatening to self-combust and the audio obtained was nothing but a series of beeps (after editing). After two more walks Nathan finally got out of the inning, although he very carefully entered the dugout at the furthest point away from Williams. In the 7th, Scott did nothing against Kelley…and Nathan walked Mike Moustakas and gave up a 2-out single to Chase Utley bringing Superman (aka Mike Trout) to the plate. After bench coach Gene Tenace had disarmed Dick Williams, Williams strode to the mound and summoned Scott’s best: Fernando Rodney (28xyzh). In the classic power-vs-power matchup Rodney got the upper hand, striking out Trout swinging to end the threat. At the end of 7 Scott still led 5-2. That seemed to be the last arrow in Solana Beach’s quiver, though, as they failed to score on a walk in the 8th, and then watched Rodney strike out the side in the 9th. Series over! Scott champions!! Release the bleeping pigeons for the final time!!!
Congratulations to my sterling opponent, Tom White, on having taken the Bums so far this season. There is no question that he milked every last ounce of winning capability out of the aptly named Bums. Tom, I’m sure we will meet in the playoffs next season…because it seems like a yearly occurrence. Also, I would like to reiterate my congratulations to Hal on the great work he did with Harrisburg; Friday night convention series never get a lot of attention but Harrisburg and Scott played a real barn-burner just to see who would get to face Tom. And so the curtain rings down on another great year in the TCBA…as usual, gentlemen, it has been a privilege and a pleasure.
p.s. Gotta find more pigeons for the victory parade in downtown Rosenberg; they are all freezing their giblets off down here (yeah, and I know we get no sympathy from the rest of the far colder nation). Release the…! (just practicing)