Sacramento and Kane County win, but Modesto falls

The River Cats and Cougars got a jump-start on their championship series opponents, winning the first game of their respective series. Modesto fell in a tight game to San Jose, however, and will have to play a decisive Game 5 to decide whether they will make the California League Championship Series. Find out the details of the games in this edition of <i>Minor League Notebook</i>...

Sacramento River Cats

Sacramento took an early 8-1 lead and then held on to win the first game of the Pacific Coast League Championship series, 10-5, over the Iowa Cubs. John Rheinecker picked up the win, beating lefthander Jimmy Anderson, late of the Chicago Cubs. Graham Koonce was the offensive hero, clubbing two homeruns and driving in five runs.

The River Cats managed to win convincingly despite losing two important members of the team to promotions to Oakland (catcher Mike Rose and reliever Jairo Garcia). Sacramento pounded out 15 hits and every River Cat starter recorded at least one hit except Mike Edwards, who did score a run.

Iowa started the game off well, scoring a run in the top of the 1st inning. The game remained 1-0 until the River Cats exploded for four runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Steve Stanley started the inning off with a single and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mark Kiger. Dan Johnson walked and then was forced at second by Mike Edwards, leaving a first and third/ two-out situation for Matt Watson. Watson tied the game with a single to right field. Koonce followed with a three-run homerun and Sacramento had their first lead, 4-1.

The River Cats tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the 4th inning when Watson played the hero again, this time singling in two runs with two-outs. Sacramento added two more in the bottom of the 5th and entered the top of the 6th leading the game 8-1. Rheinecker, who had breezed through most of the first five innings, ran into trouble in the 6th. He walked the lead-off batter, Trenidad Hubbard, and then struck out major league veteran Denny Hocking. Russ Johnson and Donny Leon hit back-to-back doubles and Bill Selby and Gookie Dawkins singled, narrowing the lead to 8-5. Rheinecker came back to strike out David Kelton and Michael Houffpauir to end the inning.

Sacramento grabbed the momentum back in the bottom of the inning when Watson walked to start the inning and Koonce followed with his second homerun of the game, extending the lead to 10-5. Chris Mabeus relieved Rheinecker in the top of the 7th and loaded the bases with one-out before buttoning down and inducing a Leon foul-out and a Selby fly out to end the inning unscored upon. Mabeus then pitched a 1-2-3 8th and gave way to Huston Street in the 9th. Street allowed back-to-back one-out singles before retiring Russ Johnson on a 6-4-3 double-play to finish the game.

Sacramento takes their 1-0 series lead into Wednesday night's game against Iowa. The game will be at 6:30 PST at Raley Field. Joe Blanton is scheduled to take the hill for the River Cats for that game.

Kane County Cougars

The Kane County Cougars used an eight-run third inning to break open the game early, as the Cougars beat the West Michigan Whitecaps, 10-5, in Game One of the Midwest League Championship Series. Starter Trent Peterson went 7 strong innings, allowing only three runs. Danny Putnam had a perfect night, going 4-4. He drove in two runs and scored twice for the Cougars. Luke Appert also had a fine night at the plate, going 2-3 with two walks, three runs batted in and two runs scored. Eight of the nine Cougars in the starting line-up reached base safely in the game.

The Cougars led 1-0 going into the bottom of the 3rd inning. Luke Appert and Vasili Spanos hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Danny Putnam then doubled in Appert, sending Spanos to third. Spanos scored on a wild pitch, which was part of a walk to David Castillo. Eddie Kim then doubled Castillo home. David Harriman flied out to right, but Richie Robnett kept the scoring barrage alive with an RBI single. After a pitching change, Kory Wayment struck out, but Brian Ingram wouldn't let the inning die, hitting an RBI single. Appert, up for the second time in the inning, crushed a three-run homerun to cap the 8-run inning.

West Michigan responded with three runs off of Peterson in the top of the 4th, hitting two homeruns in the inning. That drew the Whitecaps to a six-run deficit. However, they were never able to get much closer then that. Kane County added a run in the bottom of the 7th on a Kim RBI single. West Michigan added two runs (both charged to Justin Crowder; the first earned runs he has allowed this post-season) in the top of the 8th, making the score 10-5. The score remained 10-5, as Jason Windsor came on in the 9th and struck out the side to end the game.

The Cougars have beaten the Whitecaps all nine times they have battled this season. Starter Brad Knox will go for the Cougars Wednesday night. Kane County will attempt to take a commanding 2-0 lead in this best-of-five series. The game will begin at 4:30 PST and will be the last game at Elfstrom Stadium this season.

Modesto A's

The Modesto A's fell to the San Jose Giants, 7-6, in their attempt to clinch a series victory. The series will move to a decisive fifth game.

The A's jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, scoring three runs in the top of the 3rd inning. However, San Jose immediately responded with a six-run barrage in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Starter and eventual loser Jeff Muessing lasted only 2.1 innings before being lifted for Jared Burton. Muessing gave up five earned runs and Burton allowed the sixth run in that 3rd inning. The Giants added a single run in the bottom of the 6th off of Burton, extending the lead to 7-3. Burton struck out six in 3.1 innings of work, allowing the two earned runs. That lead held until the top of the 8th, when Modesto rallied for three runs to pull to within a single run. Two of the runs scored with two outs, as Eddie Cornejo and Marcus McBeth chipped in clutch RBI singles. The inning ended with McBeth on second, when Lloyd Turner flew out to left. San Jose was able to hold on, however, as a one-out single by Brian Stavisky was all the A's could muster in the bottom of the 9th inning off of Jeremy Accardo. James Garcia got the win for San Jose.

Stavisky and McBeth finished the game with three hits and Perry added two of his own, as Modesto tallied 12 hits in total. The A's left 8 men stranded and hit into one double-play.

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