Thursday, September 07, 2006

Repeat Division Champion Bombers Look Forward To Playoffs

STATEN ISLAND, NY -It's been another very successful season for the Baby Bombers. A year after winning their third New York-Penn League Championship, the Staten Island Yankees repeated as McNamara Division winners and took a 44-29 record into their final regular season game against Tri-City Thursday night with home field advantage throughout the playoffs on the line.

Regardless whether they won that final game, they're happy with what they've accomplished thus far and looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead in attempting to defend last year's championship.

"It feels good," first baseman Kevin Smith said regarding winning the division. "We've put a lot of effort in all year day in and day out. The team pulled together. Winning the division I think is great."

"Very excited about the playoffs and to see what that's like. And if we play like we have all year, we should have a good opportunity."

Setup man Jonathan Hovis was very excited regardless who they play in the first round starting Saturday.

"It feels great. It will be a lot of fun," he pointed out. "We get to travel that first game. Either Auburn, Aberdeen or Brooklyn. So it's going to be fun but we treat it just like any other game."

Second-year first baseman/DH Kyle Larsen who was an integral part of last year's championship knows what to expect.

"A lot of us have kind of been in postseason action in college and stuff," Larsen explained. "There's nothing really that you can say. You kind of got to experience it. And I think we have a lot of experience. So we should be good."

He'll also have a shot along with outfielder Jon Poterson at repeating. Something he'd love to be a part of.

"It would be sweet and definitely an honor to win this league twice. So hopefully we can do it."

For scheduled Sunday starter Tim Norton, it's a special time.

"I'm excited to give my team a chance to win. So I'm pretty pumped about it come Sunday," he said. "We've been playing pretty good ball and we're in a good spot and we got a good chance to take a run at this thing."

Third baseman Mitch Hilligoss was pleased with the position his team is in but also knew that not playing Friday could definitely help after a recent busy schedule which has seen the Bombers play two doubleheaders in a four-day span.

"We're real excited. We get a day off tomorrow which helps everybody kind of get caught up on rest and stuff," he said. "And then hopefully two games that first series and then a day off and two more games. That would be nice."

Regardless how they accomplish it, Hilligoss has his eye on the ultimate goal.

"Just got to go out and play and see what happens. Whatever it takes to get to the championship."

Three-run Eighth Gives Bombers Home Field: For the second straight year, Staten Island will have homefield throughout the entire postseason.

The Baby Bombers rallied from two runs down with a three-run eighth to get past Tri-City (43-31) and finish with a New York-Penn League best 45-29 record.

After stranding the tying runs on second and third with nobody out the previous inning, the Staten Island Yanks greeted Tri-City reliever Cory Lapinski (2-1) with three consecutive hits to tie the score. With Colin Curtis and Smith in scoring position, catcher Francisco Cervelli delivered a two-run single to left which suddenly made it 2-2.

After Jon Poterson sacrificed Cervelli into scoring position, Chris Kunda lined out to center for the second out setting the stage for leadoff man Seth Fortenberry to get the winning run in. With Cervelli replaced by pinch runner Wilkins De La Rosa, Fortenberry beat out an infield hit to short. Tim Torres' errant throw allowed De La Rosa to come around and score the go-ahead run- making a winner of reliever Nick Peterson (5-3).

Mark Melanchon notched his second save in two nights by retiring the Valley Cats in order, finishing it off fittingly with a strikeout of Nicholas Moresi to give the Bombers homefield.

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