Purple 2, Gold 0 (11 innings)

Senior Taylor Johnson hit a two run homer with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Purple a thrilling 2-0 victory in Game 7 of the Fall World Series at Husky Ballpark on Thursday night. His home run also helped the Purple rally from a 3 games to 1 deficit to take the series 4 games to 3.

After Matt Hague grounded out to lead off the inning, Matt Stevens reached safely on catcher's interference by DJ Neyens, and following a fly out by Brent Lillibridge to right, Johnson drove a 2-1 pitch from reliever Josh Conover over the 365 marker in right field to bring the fall practice season to a dramatic conclusion. Johnson's Purple mates rushed out of the third base dugout and mobbed him when he crossed home plate.

The Gold threatened to score in the top of the 11th as Kiel Lillibridge singled, advanced to second on a sacrifice by Ryan Anderson, and Nick Burnham grounded a single to left. On Burnham's hit, Gold coach Gregg Swenson waved Lillibridge around to score but left fielder Adam Patchett fired a perfect throw to catcher Matt Lane, who did a terrific job blocking the plate and tagged out Lillibridge.

Otherwise, in a game which would remind many of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, won by the Minnesota Twins 1-0 over the Atlanta Braves in 10 innings, pitching absolutely dominated the game. Sophomore Kyle Parker started for the Gold and came out on fire, throwing 16 of his first 22 pitches for strikes. He retired the first eight batters he faced, five by strikeout, before giving up his only hit of the game, a single to Matt Stevens in the bottom of the third. After the hit, Parker walked Brent Lillibridge intentionally, but ended up striking out the side in the third, getting Johnson ona foul tip to end the inning.

He struck out the side again in the bottom of the fifth, and struck out a batter in every inning except the fourth. He finished with seven shutout innings, one hit and two walks allowed, and 12 strikeouts. Conover suffered the tough luck loss in relief, going three and two thirds innings, allowing both runs on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts.

For the Purple, Matt Kasser started and went five innings, allowing one hit and seven walks while striking out six. While he certainly did not match Parker's effectiveness and efficiency, he ultimately matched Parker where it mattered most, on the scoreboard. He walked the bases loaded in the top of the third but then got Kyle Larsen to ground into a double play to end the inning. Then in the fourth, Kasser gave up a single to Zach Clem and a walk to Nick Batkoski with no one out but proceeded to strike out the side. Nick Hagadone relieved Kasser to start the sixth and pitched two plus innings, allowing two hits while striking out three, with Hague pitching the final four innings to get the win, allowing four hits and two walks with no strikeouts.

Offensively, Johnson finished 2 for 5 with the game winning home run and two RBI, while Burnham and Larsen both went 2 for 5 for the Gold.

For the series, several players stood out offensively and could have won the unofficial Fall Most Valuable Player Award. For the Purple, Brent Lillibridge blistered Gold pitching at a .478 clip, finishing 11 for 23 with nine runs scored and two RBI.

Johnson hit .360, going 9 for 25 with a home run, seven runs scored and seven RBI. For the Gold, Batkoski and Clem had stellar series. "Bat Man", as his teammates call him, hit .455 (10 for 22) with two home runs, four runs scored and nine RBI, while Clem finished at .391 (9 for 23) with four runs scored, three RBI and two stolen bases. Larsen also had a fine series for the Gold, batting .348 (8 for 23) with five runs scored and an RBI.

With the fall practice season now in the books, the Huskies look forward to opening the 2005 regular season on Friday, February 11 at UC-Irvine.

Dawgman.com Top Stories