San Jose Giants win 2005 Cal League Championship<P

The Giants had already put up a fair case of being the best team in the California League. Putting up the best overall record in the 2005 season was testimony to that. But how could they show they were the most clutch team in the league? How about falling behind 2 games to none in a best of 5 series, forcing a deciding game 5, falling behind in that game to win the Championship? Done.

San Jose Giants manager Lenn Sakata knew it in April.

"I thought from the beginning that we had a very good ballclub, It was just a matter of whether we would remain intact long enough to make a run.”

They remained intact, they made a run, as Sakata’s comments came from the field following San Jose’s championship win in Game 5 of the California League Championship Series over the Lake Elsinore Storm 3-1.

In a game that was started by two part-time starters, a pitching duel broke out. San Jose’s Jeff Petersen, who had made only 2 starts out of 40 appearances on the year for San Jose, pitched extraordinarily well, giving up only 4 hits and a walk while striking out 5. One of the hits, though, was a booming home run in the 5th by Drew Macias down the right field line, a home run that gave the Storm a 1-0 lead.

"I didn't expect six innings," said pitching coach Trevor Wilson. "That was tremendous. I thought if he could go four or five and keep us in the game, we'd be fine. But he goes six innings and gives up just one. Our offense is just too potent to shut us down."

But the offense was being shut down by Lake Elsinore pitcher Dirk Hayhurst. Hayhurst gave up just 1 hit through 6 innings while striking out 8. However, after 6 innings, Storm manager Rick Renteria surprisingly removed Hayhurst for reliever Matt Varner. That got the Giants rolling.

After getting Todd Jennings to fly out to deep center, Varner hit Kevin Frandsen with a pitch and walked Brian Buscher. That left the door open for Brian Horwitz, who singled to left field to score Frandsen and tie the game. Ryan Klatt was brought in to replace Varner, but Klatt gave up a single to Nate Schierholtz to score one, and then gave up a sacrifice fly to Travis Ishikawa to let San Jose score a 3rd run.

That would be enough. Left-hander Jason Waddell, who started Game 2 for the Giants, came in from the bullpen in relief, to face a heavily left handed lineup of the Storm. Waddell gave up only 2 hits in the final 3 innings. He gave up a single to Colt Morton to lead off the 9th, but then struck out Brett Bonvechio, Juan Ciriaco and Fernando Valenzuela Jr. to end the game.

Brian Horwitz was named the Championship Series’ most valuable player, going 6 for 12 in the series and getting the game tying RBI in Game 5. Horwitz, an undrafted free agent out of UC Berkeley in 2004, made his San Jose debut in the playoffs. He had spent all of 2005 with the Augusta GreenJackets, where he led the South Atlantic League in batting average.

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