Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

The Grand Prairie AirHogs are through to the Championship round, having defeated Wichita three games to one in the division round. Much like the end of the regular season, now they wait to see who’s next, since the other Division series has it’s fifth game later today. They’re either heading to St Paul or Winnipeg later this week, and will be back at QTP to finish the season starting on the weekend.

The Wichita series was hard-fought, with a lot of heroics and even more basic baseball. The AirHogs won the first game when Wichita walked in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth (John Alonso drew a walk to bring David Espinosa home – a walk-off walk). They won the second game  n the bottom of the ninth when David Espinosa scored on a wild pitch (with John Alonso at the plate, again). The third game had rain and power failures. The final game was all pitching.

The games were all close – the AirHogs won the first game 4-3, the second game 12-11, lost the third game 5-3 and clinched with a 2-1 victory. After the first game (where Wichita scored two runs in the top of the ninth, and the AirHogs scored three in the bottom of the frame to win), I assumed the next game would be the blowout game.  I was correct. Defensively, it was very similar – the runs just arrived in clumps on both sides with 23 total runs. The third game started with a rain delay, and then had a power failure and more rain. The final was John Brownell throwing eight amazing innings and Jon Hunton slamming the door on the Wingnuts (with the tying run on third.)

So, a series that was good for the soul and bad for the heart.

The next step is the finals round – the other divisional series will go five games, so the AirHogs can actually take a day off today and watch the game to see who will be hosting the first two games of the championship. Every game so far in the St Paul – Winnipeg series has gone to extra innings, so whoever wins may be a wee bit tired.

Random notes and statistics on the Wichita series:

  • The first team to score lost the game (thanks to Josh Hirsch for that observation.)
  • Plate discipline can never be under-rated. John Alonso won the first two games by standing still and being patient – he drew a walk to force the winning run in the first game and waited until he got a wild pitch in the second.
  • Pitchers have good nights and bad nights. Josh Dew of the Wingnuts loaded the bases in the first game and was pulled after he threw the first ball of Alonso’s walk. He threw the wild pitch the second night. He then pitched a 1-2-3 inning to close the first game in Wichita.
  • This is the time of year to peak. David Espinosa hit .643 in the series, German Duran hit .571, Alonso hit two home runs (and drew four walks), Greg Porter had 5 RBIs.
  • Starting pitching is still key – the AirHogs got eight innings out of two of their starters (Brownell and Jennings) and both of them have a 1.13 ERA.

Three wins to go.