When it all ended, the crowd at San Jose gave their team the applause it deserved for a well-played season.
But the San Jose Giants played uncharacteristically bad baseball in what became the final game of their season, losing 5-2 to the Visalia Oaks. The loss ended the North Division Championship Series at 3-2 in Visalia’s favor, and they will move on to play the Inland Empire 66ers for the 2006 championship. The 2005 champion Giants now get to rest up for Spring Training.
Starting pitcher Brooks McNiven pitched admirably through some bad play on the field behind him. Fernando Perez, the first batter of the game hit a line drive in front of Carlos Sosa in left field that Sosa dove for and missed, turning a single into a double. The very next batter, Shaun Cumberland, got on base thanks to an error by first baseman Pat Dobson. But McNiven got a pop foul for the first out, and then induced a strike-‘em-out-throw-‘em-out double play with Cumberland trying to steal second to get out of the inning.
The second inning started similarly, as Josh Arhart led off the inning by getting on base thanks to an error by third baseman Julio Cordido. After a single put runners at first and second, McNiven balked them over a base. But McNiven once again got a foul pop out, a strike out, and then snagged a line drive right at him to get out of the inning.
While no runs were scored on McNiven in those innings, he worked hard and set the stage for leaving the game after just 5 innings.
In the 6th, with the score tied 1-1, Alfredo Simon entered the game. Simon hit Arhart with a pitch to leadoff the inning and then walked Josh Asanovich. Patrick Cottrell then bunted the ball at Simon in the air. Simon dove for the ball, missing it, and then picked it up and threw to first wildly. Arhart scored on the play. With runners on 1st and 2nd to the next batter, Simon threw a pickoff attempt into center field to allow the runners to advance. Simon left after that, having not gotten a single out. Justin Hedrick gave up a sacrifice fly to give Visalia a 3-1 lead.San Jose initially scored in the 4th. Down 1-0, John Bowker doubled to lead off the inning, and Brian Horwitz singled him home. Bowker also scored in the 6th, leading off the inning with a single, and then coming home on a two out Mark Minicozzi single.