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1997 N.L. DIVISION SERIES #1

Manhattan Gas Hornets @ Steel City Sluggers

manhattansteelcityPreview – National League Division Series features a match up of two Eastern Division Teams – Steel City, the NL’s best team (113 wins) vs. Manhattan – winner of the Wild Card series (and 107 game winner in the regular season). These two GMs are developing quite the history across many leagues and this series should just add to that lore. Regular season – Manhattan owned the series 14 games to 8. But this is the post season and Steel City owns a slight edge in pitching, Manhattan in batting (NL leaders).

GAME #1 – Kevin Tapani 9-1 (2.69) vs. Chan Ho Park 8-2 (2.95)

Gas Hornets strike 1st with a single run in the 1st but Shawon Dunstons launches a 2 run homer (1) in the 2nd and Steel City never looks back – never. 3 runs in the 4th, 5th and 6th innings set the stage for a massive 12-3 blowout. Dan Wilson homers (1), Tim Raines comes in to PH (as the game goes blowout) and unloads with a 3 run homer (1). Mickey Morandini gets 3 hits, 2 rbis, and a SB. Park goes 5, 4 this, 1 run and cakewalks to the win.
MGH 3- 9-0 LP Tapani (0-1)
SCS 12-18-0 WP Park (1-0)

GAME #2 – Rick Reed 18-5 (3.17) vs. Kevin Appier 20-5 (3.64)

Well as one sided as game one was – game two was the proverbial nail-biter.  Reed and Appier lock up in a classic pitcher’s duel, scoreless through 6. That ends in the bottom of the 7th when Rustry Greer homers (1) for 1-0 Sluggers lead. But Tino Martinez launches a SF in the 8th to tie it up. Reed leaves in the 9th (8.1 ip, 4 hits, 1 run). Wetteland enters, walks 1 and leaves for Tom Martin who gets the final 2 in the 9th. Appier goes 6, 3 hits, 0 runs. Al Osuna pitched 2 in relief (but gave up the SF – for a tough BS).
But after 9, the score is knotted 1-1. Mike W. Stanton pitches the 10th and gets 3 (2 by Ks). Bottom half, Tom Martin still throwing for Gas Hornets and Shawon Dunston leads off with a double off the wall. Dan Wilson then grounds out moving Dunston to 3rd. Kevin Orie gets the IW, Lance Johnson works a walk. Mark Grace then lifts one deep to the wall in RF, caught, but Dunston tags and scores easily to give Steel City the win and a big 2-0 leads in the series. However, Tony Gwynn will miss the next 5 days after being hit by a Reed pitch.
MGH 1-4-0 LP Martin (0-1)
SCS 2-5-0 WP Stanton (1-0) BS Osuna (1)

GAME #3 – Ben McDonald 14-6 (3.62) vs. Matt Morris 20-6 (3.12)

Series shifts to Manhattan – fans are hyped – but the Sluggers own the 2-0 series lead.
McDonald faces Morris and Steel City strikes for 5 big runs in the 1st. Lance Johnson, Mark Grace, Rusty Greer all single to load the bases to start the game. Kevin Young follows with an rbi single. Darren Daulton hits a tomahawk double for 2 more runs. Then with 1 out Dan Wilson reaches on a Jeter throwing error and 2 more score – 5 to nothing before the Gas Hornets come to bat. Manhattan does get 2 back in the 2nd on an RBI double from Garrett Anderson and a SF from Ray Durham.
Gas Hornets chip away again in the 7th when Anderson hits a solo homer (1). But the Sluggers get it right back in the 8th when Mickey Morandini singles, Anderson misplays it and Kevin Young takes advantage of the error to score making it 6-3 Steel City. BUT – BUT in the bottom of the 8th with 2 out and 2 on, Jim Corsi comes on to face Kevin Hollins and wham – Hollings launches a 3 run homer (1) to tie the game! And that’s where it stands at the end of 9!
10th inning – John Wetteland is called on and he sets down the sluggers in order. In the bottom half, Mike W. Stanton comes in and Dave Martinez leads off and hits one to the gap in right center that Darren Daulton misplays and his singles end ups with Martinez standing on 3rd! Tino Martinez up and it’s an IW. Stanton then whiffs Matt Stairs and Hollins. Jason Kendall steps up, 2 outs and he walks. Garrett Anderson up, chance to atone for his error and add to his previous accomplishments and he delivers a single deep to the gap in right center scoring Dave Martinez and it’s over with Manhattan winning to get back into the series now down 2-1.
SCS 6- 9-1 LP Stanton (1-1)
MGH 7-11-2 WP Wetteland (1-0)

GAME #4 – Chan Ho Park 8-2 ( 2.95) vs. Kevin Tapani 9-1 (2.69)

The scoring starts in the 2nd when Shawon Dunston gets a 2 out single and Dan Wilson follows with a single to right center. Dunston started running and never stopped and crosses home plate ahead of the throw. Park continues to stymie the Gas Hornets – until the 4th.

Dave Martinez leads off the bottom of the 4th with a double. Tino Martinez follows with an rbi double. Matt Stairs singles him to 3rd. Hollins however is fanned. Jason Kendall up and Park balks in a run. Kendall then walks, runners on 1st and 2nd. Park walks Garrett Anderson. Tapanini us, bases loaded, 1 out, can’t take him out – and he grounds one to short, the throw to 2nd, 1 out, but they can’t get Tapani at 1st and it’s 3-1 Manhattan. That is until Ray Durham then doubles scoring 2 more to make it 5-1 after 4.

Steel City isn’t going down yet though. Top 5, Dunston leads off with a single, Wilson follows with an infield hit. Then a sacrifice attempt turns into a bunt single to load the bases – NO OUTS! Lance Johnson up and he grounds to Tapani who drops it, but recovers in time to get Johnson, but a run scores. Tapani then gets Mark Grace to pop out, 2 down. And Rusty Greer grounds out to end the threat with only 1 run scoring. Manhattan leads 5-2.
And that’s the final as the Gas Hornets only score in 1 inning and their bullpen shuts down the Sluggers in the final 4 innings. Series now tied 2-2. However, the Gas Hornets now suffer a key injury when Garrett Anderson slams the wall and will miss the next 4 days.
SCS 2-8-0 LP Park (1-1)
MGH 5-8-0 WP Tapani (1-1) S Wetteland (1)

GAME #5 – Kevin Appier 20-5 (3.64) vs. Rick Reed 18-5 (3.17)

In the pivotal 5th game, Steel City brings in Kevin Appier and Manhattan counters with Rick Reed – these guys were tough in game two.

And Rick Reed is TOUGH again in this one. He goes the distance tossing a 5 hitter shutting out the Sluggers – Dan Wilson gets 2 of the 5 hits, but no threats.
Appier was remarkable as well – for 5 innings. But in the 6th the Gas Hornets solved him. Ray Durham leads off whaling one to deep right for a solo homer (1) and the 1-0 lead. Dave Martinez singles, Tino Martinez follows with double. Matt Stairs walks to load them up. Dave Hollins hits one that is caught at the wall for a SF. Dion Sanders (in for the injured Garrett Anderson) doubles scoring 2 more. Jason Kendall then walk off Chuck McElroy and Rick Reed finishes the scoring with an rbi single (he gets 2 hits in the game). Manhattan adds singles runs in the 7th and 8th to run the final score to 7-0 and take a 3-2 lead back to Steel City!!
SCS 0- 5-1 LP Appier (0-1)
MGH 7-11-0 WP Reed (1-0)

GAME #6 – Matt Morris 20-6 (3.12) vs. Chuck Finley 10-7 (4.41)

Series returns to Steel City with the upstarts up 3 games to 2 and looking to close it out before the Sluggers reawaken. Tony Gwynn is back for Steel City and Garrett Anderson is still out for Manhattan.
Matt Morris will start for the Gas Hornets, Chuck Finley gets the start for the home team.
Finley has 1st inning issues – Ray Durham walks and Derek Jeter follows with a single. Dave Martinez singles to right and the bases are loaded for Tino Martinez. Tino WALKS, 1-0. Matt Stairs singles, 2 runs score but Tino is nailed going to 3rd. Stairs moved to 2nd and then moves to 3rd on a WP and scores on Dave Hollins ground out 4-0 Manhattan in the 1st.
Mickey Morandini gets a 1 out single and then scores on a 2 out Dan Wilson double and it’s 4-1 Manhattan. In the 4th, Kevin Young leads off with a double. He then scores when Darren Daulton singles deep to the RF gap, 4-2 Gas Hornets. Sluggers coming on….
Top 5 Manhattan gets 1 back when Dave Hollins hits a 1 out double and Jason Kendall hits a 2 out rbi single and it’s 5-2.
5th inning and the Sluggers keep charging. Lance Johnson leads off with a walk and scores on Tony Gwynn rbi double, 5-3. Rusty Greer grounds him to 3rd. Kevin Young follows and he doubles scoring Gwynn and it’s 5-4 Manhattan as the game is now official.

Then in the bottom of the 7th, with Tim Wakefield pitching for Manhattan Tony Gwynn leads off with a big homer (1) and the game is tied! Gwynn has a great game coming back from injury (3 for 5, 2 run, 2 rbis, single, double, homer).

So 7 innings done, tied 5-5 and Jeff Montgomery in to pitch for Steel City. Kendall leads off with a double. Matt Franco in to PH and he doubles scoring Kendall. Ray Durham singles, Franco holds at 3rd. Then a strike it tossed to Jeter and Wilson fires down and Franco is caught in a run down and is tagged out and Durham goes to 2nd. Jeter grounds out and Mike W. Stanton comes in to relieve Montgomery. Dave Martinez then singles scoring Durham, 7-5. Tino is walked and Matt Stairs follows with a pop single into shallow RF that scores Dave Martinez for an 8-5 lead.
Manhattan then calls on Tom Martin for the 8th and keeps him in for the 9th and he comes through and the Gas Hornets win 8-5 and win the series 4 games to 2!
MGH 8-16-1 WP Wakefield (1-0) BS (1) S Martin (1)
SCS 5-10-0 LP Montgomery (0-1)

The six (6) game series win was not expected – 7 game series maybe, win, fingers crossed! But we are excited to be going back to the NL LCS! Lots of stars but the nod goes to Ray Durham 12 hits, 3 doubles, 1 homer, 6 runs, 5 rbis,
.462/.483/.692 and OPS of 1.175Congrats go out to John Niespodzianski for another great Sluggers team and season!
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