Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The R-Braves Are in the Governor's Cup Finals!

Richmond beat the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees 4-3 last night to earn a spot in the International League Championship Series. The Braves rallied in late innings the last two nights to win the series three games to one.

They begin the battle for the Governor's Cup against the Durham Bulls Tuesday on the road. It's another best-of-five series, with the R-Braves at home Thursday, then Friday and Saturday as needed. If the series goes to game five, I'm THERE Saturday. As much as I love the majors, there is a really special connection when fans show up for minor league playoffs.

Durham is a serious rival from the IL South. The two teams know each other very well, and split the season series 8-8. I fully expect this series to go the distance.

Apparently, you can watch the games on We were busy watching the extended version of King Kong last night, so I forgot.

You can read the Times-Dispatch article here. I'm reprinting the Minor League Baseball article below 'cause it's awesome.

R-Braves edge Yanks to advance
Three-run ninth sends Richmond to Governors' Cup Finals
By Caleb Pardick / Special to

Iker Franco delivered a key RBI single during Richmond's three-run ninth inning. (Joy R. Absalon/

On Friday night, the Richmond Braves rallied late after being stymied by a solid pitching performance in the third game of its International League opening-round series with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

On Saturday afternoon, it was more of the same.

The Braves pushed across three runs in the ninth inning on their way to a 4-3 win over the Yankees in Game 4 of the best-of-5 series.

The Braves will take on International League South Division rival Durham in the Governors' Cup Finals. Game 1 is Tuesday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Richmond defeated Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 6-4, on Friday night, scoring four times in the eighth after being shut down by Matt DeSalvo for seven innings.

Facing Yankees reliever Ben Kozlowski on Saturday, Larry Bigbie walked to lead off the ninth and Doug Clark singled. Ross Ohlendorf replaced Kozlowski and got Carlos Mendez to fly out.

A minor controversy occurred with the next batter. Wes Timmons, who successfully checked his swing twice to bring the count to 2-2, was hit by Ohlendorf's next pitch on another half-swing. Home plate umpire Kevin Causey appealed to first-base umpire Troy Fullwood, who said Timmons did not swing. Yankees manager Dave Miley unsuccessfully disputed the call.
With the bases loaded and one out, Iker Franco delivered a line-drive single that scored Bigbie. Richmond manager Dave Brundage initially signaled for Clark to stop at third, but after seeing center fielder Brett Gardner bobble the ball, sent Clark home to tie the game. Timmons advanced to third on the error.

"I was just trying to put the ball in play, and I stayed back got the pitch I got and made good contact," said Franco. "I have to give it to my teammates for putting me in that position."

Derrick Arnold, who spent the entire regular season at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center to plate Timmons with the go-ahead run.

"Any day you come to the ballpark, you hope you could be that one person to change the game," said Arnold, who was promoted to Richmond on Tuesday. "When I woke up this morning, I didn't think I was even going to get to play.

"I just got up here a week ago, but I never thought once I'd come in today and win the game. Any time you get a chance to do something like that, it's unbelievable."

Clark, with teammates gathered around him in the jovial visitors' clubhouse after the game, gave Arnold the game ball amid cheers from everyone.

"We told him when he got here, 'Visualize that one play that you're going to make for us to help us win a ball game, whether it's sliding in and taking out a double play or getting a squeeze down,'" Clark said. "Today, it was a sac fly."

"Every game this series was tooth-and-nail, but we just ended up coming out on the good end of it," added Brundage. "It's really impressive to know that we play with so much heart."

"[We and Durham] know each other very well. The season series was 8-8, and I expect the same type of play," he said, of the upcoming finals. "I like our chances just because this teams plays as a team. We won this series as a team."

Braves reliever Phil Stockman (1-1) allowed a walk in 1 1/3 hitless frames to pick up the win, while Joey Devine saved his third game of the series, working around a single and striking out one in the ninth.

The Yankees were on top for most of the game, scoring in the first on a two-run blast by Jose Cruz Jr. They maintained control, thanks to seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball from starter Jeff Karstens, who issued two walks and fanned seven. Ohlendorf (0-1) yielded one run on one hit in one frame.

Bronson Sardinha ripped two doubles and scored a run for the Yankees.

NOTES: Richmond reliever Chad Paronto, who disagreed with several of Causey's calls, was ejected on his way off the field with two outs in the seventh after being lifted by Brundage. ... The Braves last took home a Governors' Cup title in 1994. ... Despite not recording a hit on Saturday, Bigbie still leads all International League hitters with a .556 (5-for-9) average. ... Scranton/Wilkes-Barre stranded at least one runner (12 total) in every inning on Saturday. ... After Clark's second-inning double, no Richmond player reached second base until pinch-hitter Barbaro Canizares' leadoff double in the eighth. ... The Yankees stole only two bases all series after swiping six in each of the final two games of the regular season. ... Andy Cannizaro, who hit a solo homer in the first on Friday and left the game after being hit by a pitch on his forearm in his next at-bat, did not play in Game 4. He said he thought the beaning by Braves starter Francisley Bueno was intentional.


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