Sunday, November 18, 2007

No Surprise, Dogs win 4th AFL Title

Nick Blackburn
The totally awesome Nick Blackburn

Phoenix 7 at Surprise 2

W: C. Hernandez (1-0, 9.00); L: R. Rundles (0-1, 0.00)
HR: SUR: S. Rodriguez (1).

The Phoenix Desert Dogs exploded in the 8th and 9th innings Saturday to pick up their 4th consecutive AFL title. This is the 2nd year the Minnesota Twins have been part of the Desert Dogs co-op.

Minnesota's Nick Blackburn worked 6 inning for the Dogs, holding the Rafters to 1 run on 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 2.

Sean Rodriguez (LA Angels) would take one of Blackburn's cruveballs deep over the left-center field wall for a Rafter's home run. That would tie up the game, after the Dogs took a first inning lead.

Nyjer Morgan (Pittsburgh) began the game with a double, but then tried to stretch it to 3, being taken out at 3rd. Dog's shortshop of choice Cliff Pennington (Oakland) singled, the stole 2nd base. Ryan Sweeney (Chicago White Sox) doubled in Pennington.

The Dogs would take the lead back in the top of the 4th, when Matt Macri (Minnesota) drew a walk, moved ot second on a Chris Getz (Chicago White Sox) single then came home on Morgan's fly ball single to right.

The Rafters however would have to wait until Chris Hernandez (Pittsburgh) took over the mound in the 7th to find an answering run. Brad Snyder (Cleveland) would single, and the Elvis Andrus (Texas) would double to move him to 3rd. A Craig Tatum (Cincinnati) sac-fly brought Snyder in tying up the score again.

But Sweeney walked in the top of the ninth off Mike Finocchi (Cleveland). Jason Delaney (Pittsburgh) reached on a force attempt that failed when Andrus overthrew the ball. Following a Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh) ground out, Macri would it a sac-fly to bring in Sweeney. A Getz single plated Delaney to give the Dogs a 2 run lead.

They'd add to it in the 9th, when Pennington singled with 1 out, then stole 2nd base. Nolan Reimold's ground ball deflected off first baseman Michael Aubrey (Cleveland). Combined with a fielding error by 2nd baseman Marc Maddox (Kansas City), Penning had more than enough time to get home. Sweeney would single to move Reimold to 2nd. Following a pitching change that saw Paul Kometani (Texas) take to the mound for the Rafters, Delaney singled to bring in Reimold. McCutchen would walk to fill the bases, and a passed ball by Tatum allowed Sweeney to score. Macri would strike out and Getz would ground out to retire the Dogs, leaving 2 men stranded.

Phoenix would look to Dave Davidson (Pittsburgh) in the 8th and Bob McCrory (Baltimore) in the 9th to finish up the game and keep the Rafters out of it.

After Andrus struck out looking to start the bottom of the ninth, the Rafters bench exploded, leading to the ejection of Surprise hitting coach Jon Nunnally and pitching coach Steve Luebber. It made no difference. Tatum would ground out and Chris Lubanski (Kansas City) struck out to end the inning.

Macri finished up the game 1-for-3 at the plate with a walk, a run and an RBI. Catcher Drew Butera finished up 1-for-4. Trevor Plouffe, who appeared in the AFL Rising Stars Showcase, last played on November 8th, when he was lifted at the end of the first inning following a ground out.


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