Monday, April 14, 2008


2008 BRASS WORLD SERIES: Montral Sunsets (113-49) vs. Plainsfield Hitmen (119-43)

Game 1: John Smoltz (17-7, 3.18) vs. Mike Mussina (19-6, 3.69)

Both teams headed into the series with a full head of steam. The Sunsets had just stormed back from a 3-1 deficit against Dulth-Superior, while the Hitmen had dispatched Chuckanut Bay in four straight. One question: would the extra time off earned after the 4-game sweep hurt Plainsfield? And would the Sunset bats remain hot? Looked that way early on in Game 1. After the Hitmen had taken an early 2-1 lead thanks to a 2-run single by Matt Holliday, the Sunsets exploded against Mussina for 5 runs in the 3rd, sending the Plainsfield starter to the showers early. JD Drew had the big hit, a 2-RBI double. Leading 6-3 after 3 innings, John Smoltz made the lead stand up. The Sunsets tacked on runs in the 4th, 7th, and 9th en route to a 10-5 win. JD Drew was the star of this game, going 5 for 5 while hitting for the cycle. Travis Hafner had two hits, including a homer, while John Smoltz pitched into the 7th against the powerhouse lineup of Plainsfield.

Game 2: Johan Santana (17-9, 3.61) vs. Aaron Harang (21-6, 3.87)

The Sunsets weren’t satisfied with just one win in Plainsfield. They were looking to grab the series by the neck. Hitmen fans weren’t even in their seats before Montreal leadoff man Bobby Abreu took Harang deep for a quick 1-0 lead. The Sunsets loaded the bases with nobody out, but Harang managed to escape with only one more run scoring. An RBI single by Holliday in the bottom of the 1st made it 2-1 Montreal. Griffey Jr. homered in the 2nd to tie it, but Montreal came right back with 2 of their own in the 3rd, thanks in large part to FOUR Harang walks. Chris Coste (3 for 4, 3 RBIs) added a 2-run double in the 4th, and the Sunsets had a 6-2 lead through four innings. They would not score again, but thanks to three perfect innings from their bullpen, they didn’t have to. Final score, Sunsets 6, Hitmen 4. Montreal heads home with a surprising two games to none lead in the series.

Game 3: Bronson Arroyo (20-7, 4.04) vs Brett Myers (19-7, 3.21)

Likely the biggest game of the season for Plainsfield, but Montreal was very uncooperative. The Sunsets torched Arroyo, scoring two in the first and five more in the second, thanks in part to 2-run homers by Bobby Abreu and Travis Hafner (4RBI). Trailing 7-0 after 2 innings, the Hitmen were very much on the ropes. Signs of life appeared in the 4th, as the Hitmen put a 4 spot up. An unlikely error by Ryan Zimmerman helped set the table, and Ken Griffey laced a big 2-run 2-out double to help cut the Montreal lead to 7-4. Montreal came right back with a run in their half of the 4th, and the Hitmen trailed by 4. Myers settled down a bit after the 4th, yielding only a solo homer by Matt Holliday in the 6th. Through 7 innings, the Sunsets were up 8-5. In the top of the 8th David Wright led off with a double, sending Myers to the showers. In came Carlos Zambrano, winner of 18 games during the regular season. The bullpen did not agree with Big-Z, as all three hitters he faced reached base. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Hector Carrasco was summoned from the pen. Adam LaRoche greeted him with a big 2-run double to tie the game at 8, and then Jorge Posada launched a huge 3-run homer, to make it 11-8 Hitmen. Drew and Zimmerman singled off Papelbon in the bottom of the 9th, but the Hitmen closer retired the next three batters and secured the 11-8 win. The Hitmen were once again alive, trailing two games to one.

Game Four: Mussina vs. Smoltz, part II

The Hitmen took the momentum from their dramatic Game 3 victory and jumped to a quick 4-0 lead after 2 ½ innings, thanks to a 2-run homer for Matt Holliday and RBI hits for David Wright and Jermaine Dye. JD Drew answered in the bottom of the 3rd with a 2-run double to make it 4-2. Each team added a two-spot in the 4th, and the score stood at 6-4 after 4 innings. A JD Drew homer in the 6th made it 6-5, which is how the game stood through 8 innings. Bob Wickman started the 9th after hurling a scoreless 8th, as Jonathan Papelbon had pitched in each of the first 3 games. A pinch hit double by Chris Coste and a walk to Kevin Youkilis forced the hand of the Hitmen, and Papelbon was brought in to hold the one run lead. Bobby Abreu promptly tied the game with an RBI double, and with nobody out, runners stood at 2nd and 3rd. After getting Chipper Jones to pop out and Travis Hafner on strikes, Papelbon and the Hitmen were one hitter away from extra innings with David DeJesus at the plate. DeJesus never had a chance to win it, as Papelbon uncorked a wild pitch to score the winning run for Montral. A heartbreaking loss for the Hitmen, and the Sunset were one victory away from their first BRASS title.

Game Five: Aaron Harang vs. Johan Santana, Part II

The Hitmen, with their backs squarely up against the wall, jumped on Santana early with twin 2-run homers by Jermaine Dye and Rich Aurilia. The lead was cut to 4-2 in the bottom of the 4th on a Travis Hafner triple and a JD Drew RBI double. Hafner homered in the 6th to cut the Hitmen lead to one, but Justin Duchscherer and Bob Wickman pitched scoreless 8th and 9th innings and the Hitmen pulled out a 5-3 win to send the series back to Plainsfield. Aaron Harang threw 7 quality innings, allowing only 3 runs and 6 hits. Johan Santana went the distance in a losing cause, allowing only 5 hits and striking out 14 Plainsfield hitters.

Game 6: Carlos Zambrano vs Matt Cain

Plainsfield went to their young righthander in this do or die game. After a subpar and wild performance in the GLCS against Chuckanut Bay, Cain responded with a quality outing in what was Plainsfield’s biggest game of the year. Cain struck out nine Sunset hitters in 7 innings, while his counterpart from Montreal couldn’t get out of the 3rd inning. A 2-run homer by Jason Giambi erased an early 2-0 lead by Montreal, and 3 consecutive doubles by LaRoche, Posada and Griffey to open the 2nd led to 3 more Hitmen runs in the 2nd. Single runs in the 6th and 7th closed out the scoring, and Scott Proctor threw two scoreless innings to close out Game 6. 7-2 Hitmen, and the Series would move to a 7th and deciding game.

Game 7: Smoltz vs. Mussina, The Finale

With the momentum on the side of the Hitmen, the Sunsets were looking to break on top early in the series finale. Chipper Jones homered to start the scoring in the 2nd, and Michael Barrett added an RBI single to make it 2-0 after 2 innings. It remained that way until with 2 out in the bottom of the 4th, Jorge Posada tied the game with a 2-run homer. That seemed to spark the Hitmen offense, as Chase Utley added a 2-run homer of his own in the bottom of the 5th, which was followed by three more runs in the frame, including RBI singles for Holliday and Griffey. All of the sudden, it was 7-2 Plainsfield. Back to back triples by Utley and Wright opened the 6th, and Jermaine Dye added an RBI single to make it 9-2 Plainsfield. Hafner homered one final time in the 9th, but it was too little too late, as the Hitmen completed their impressive comeback in the series with a 9-3 win. John Smoltz took the loss, surrendering 6 earned runs in 4 innings. Chase Utley was 3 for 5 in the finale, to run his series totals to 14 for 30 with a homer and 3 RBI.

A tremendous series for Travis Hafner (8 for 22, 4HR and 8RBI), thought it was not quite enough. JD Drew added 12 hits and 9 RBI in the 7 games as well for Montreal. Jorge Posada also had an impressive series for the Hitmen, going 6 for 18 with 2 HR and 7 RBI.

A great series, and it was unfortunate that one team had to lose. These two teams were evenly matched, and it showed in the results all year and in the playoffs. Congratulations to Daniel Valois and the Montral Sunsets for a tremendous season.