Monday, September 12, 2005

Anson's Walk Off Lifts Baby Bombers To Championship Series

STATEN ISLAND- With one swing, the Staten Island Yankees advanced to the New York-Penn League Championship Series. Third baseman Kyle Anson's dramatic one out two-run home run in the ninth inning off Williamsport's Ian Heisel made a winner out of Joshua Schmidt (6-1) in a thrilling 5-3 victory to sweep Williamsport in the best-of-three series, touching off a wild celebration at Richmond County Ball Park Monday night in St. George.

A half inning earlier, Schmidt was one out away from finishing off the Crosscutters when they rallied to tie the score at three. First, pinchhitter Steve Lerud's blooped a single to left just out of James Cooper's reach. Then second baseman Reegie Corona booted a grounder. When Andrew McCutchen dropped a single in front of left field replacement Jordan Devoir, the game was tied in front of a stunned crowd.

"I got a couple of outs pretty quick," said Schmidt. "He [McCutchen] hit a pretty good pitch. The next guy we did what we wanted."

In a game Staten Island led three times only to see Williamsport battle back, Anson made sure there wouldn't be a deciding game Tuesday. With Devoir on first, he drove the ball to deep right pushing Brad Corley to the wall. When Corley failed to retrieve the ball, it caromed off the top and over, sending the entire Baby Bomber dugout out to mob Anson at home plate. It was Anson's first homer of the year in 39 games including the postseason.

"No, I didn't think I had it," said an excited Anson after the game. "I thought I got under it a little too much."

All season, Staten Island pulled games out in their last at bat. During one stretch, they won four straight games in that fashion. "Well obviously, we feel pretty much invincible. We've done this every game," Anson pointed out. All throughout the year, I don't know how many games we won in the ninth inning here, away and I mean it doesn't really matter.

"This is the best group of guys I've ever played with."

"That's a great kid," said manager Andy Stankiewicz of Anson, who earlier this season missed close to a month with a bad knee. "He's worked so hard to comeback. ... He's just a grinder. He works his tail off and you know, I'm excited for him."

Regarding his ball club's bounceback ability, Stankiewicz noted, "They've been doing it since we started. We just keep fighting back. ... Our guys just always always battle up there."

Early on, Staten Island's David Seccombe and Williamsport's Todd Redmond were sharp. Other than an infield single by Brett Gardner, each didn't allow another baserunner thru three innings. But in the fourth, the Baby Bombers struck first when Redmond loaded the bases with no outs. He induced Jon Poterson into a 4-6-3 double play, scoring Anson, who ledoff with a walk. But Redmond limited the damage when Cooper flied out to center.

Meanwhile, Seccombe took a no-hitter into the sixth before Jermel Lomack broke it up with a bunt single. With one out, Cameron Blair also beat out a bunt to put runners on the corners. Steve Pearce's sac fly tied the game. It was the only run Seccombe allowed in six and a third, giving up just the two infield hits along with a walk and three strikeouts.

With Redmond out of the game, DH Felipe Garcia untied it with two outs in the seventh when he crushed a first pitch fastball off Derek Antelo 400 feet to left center for a homer giving Staten Island a 2-1 lead. But it was shortlived when the Crosscutters scratched across a run in the eighth against Cory Stuart on a two out Pearce single. After another single to James Boone, Stankiewicz brought in Schmidt, who struckout Corley to end the threat.

They inched ahead 3-2 in the bottom half when Williamsport reliever Kevin Miller's errant throw home allowed Eduardo Nunez to score. It wouldn't last. On this night, Anson made sure it didn't matter.

Baby Bombers Take On Auburn For League Championship

The Baby Bombers will face Auburn for the league championship beginning Wednesday on the road. They won two of three games against the Doubledays earlier this year.

Auburn is coming off a sweep of Oneonta in which they outscored them 33-9.

"That's impressive," Stankiewicz said. "Oneonta, we faced them earlier in the year and they beat us two out of three and they [Auburn] made a statement beating up on [Oneonta] like that."

"Hopefully, we'll able to continue to pitch the way we have and we can keep their offense in check."

Jason Stephens (5-1) pitches Game One for Staten Island.

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