Mets Win! Mets Win!

September 10, 2003 - They say pitching wins championships. That adage was proven last night as Scott Kazmir rose to the challenge of a series clinching game with 5 and a third one hit innings of shutout ball to lead the St. Lucie Mets to a 10-0 victory and a Florida State League Championship.

As happened through out the postseason, the Mets managed to scrap out a first inning run, when Wayne Lydon scored on a David Wright fielders choice. Wright - who finished 1-4, 2 runs, an RBI, and, yes, another double - was the offensive catalyst for the entire series.

In the third, with Scott Kazmir stringing together zeros, Wright manufactured a second run, working his way around the bases and scoring on a wild pitch. It was the third time in four games Wright had scored without the benefit of a hit. In game 1, Wright had been caught in a pickle between third and home on a "go on contact play
" and scored by drawing an interference call.

"I was dead." said a grinning Wright. "I just tried to make something happen, and it worked out."

2 runs seemed huge as Kazmir took the mound in the sixth, but after two deep counts that notched his sixth strikeout and a full count walk, Manager Ken Oberkfell began the slow walk to the mound that indicated Kazmir had reached his pitch limit.

Despite a fan standing above the Mets dugout yelling "Don't you take him out, Obie!", a visibly frustrated Kazmir was replaced by Harold Eckert.

"I can't let him go past 95", said pitching coach Dan Warthen referring to the pitch count. "There's nothing I can do."

Kazmir sat perched on the top step watching, pacing, and cheering as the Blue Jays loaded the bases before Eckert and Blake McGinley could retire the side without letting a run score.

After McGinley finished his work for the night, Kazmir ran down to the bullpen so he could greet McGinley with a high five and a hug for putting out the fire.

"That just showed what our pitching was kind of like all year," said Oberkfell.

In the seventh, the Mets put together the rally that would bring home a championship. With one run in making it 3-0 and two outs, Chase Lambin delivered the game breaking blow, lacing a two run double to left center. That hit opened the flood gates as the Mets put on a 2-out rally clinic, plating five more runs. Catcher Joe Hietpas hit a 2 run double, and Angel Pagan capped the festivities with a 2 RBI triple.

"I was never so happy to see an 8-spot in an inning," said Oberkfell.

With the game in hand, the Mets joyously ran through the final two and a half innings as McGinley, Rafael Lopez and Kole Strayhorn pitched the final frames without incident.

In the ninth, as the final out settled into Pagan's glove, the Mets collectively thrust their fists in the air and piled on top of each other on the mound.

Ultimately, the difference in the series, aside from the brilliant pitching the Mets got throughout the season, was the character of the team, which, to a man, the Mets pointed to as being the decisive factor.

"I was so pumped," Kazmir said. "It's kind of easy when you got eight guys behind you like I have."

"It's special, especially with this team," said Wright.

Throughout the series every Met sat on the top step of the dugout cheering for each other, picking each other up, and hanging on every pitch. The contrast was notable as the Jays sat on the bench barely visible, even in their home park.

Wright personified the team, tirelessly barking encouragement to his teammates, forcing the action on the field, and delivering big hit after big hit, doubling and scoring in each of the games of the series.

"It's an unbelievable experience," he told reporters, "one that I'll always treasure and cherish."

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