Palm Springs, CA – February 18, 2011 – Playoff excitement was in the air on Friday in Palm Springs, trying to displace the threatening rain clouds, as all four teams played for a chance to make it to the championship game.
In the first playoff game, the #2 seed Palm Desert Coyotes faced off against the #3 seed Coachella Valley Snowbirds. Both managers put forth their strongest lineups and both teams looked to jump out to an early lead.
Hiroki Inaba led off the game for the Snowbirds with a base hit off of Coyotes starter Kevin Crimmel. Inaba scored on a Takaaki Suetsugu single.
In the bottom half of the inning, Trivon Howard doubled to start the game off of Snowbirds starter Shota Kano. He scored on a groundout by Kevin Hoeff to tie the game.
Coachella Valley regained the lead in the third. Yuji Nerei’s RBI single scored Inaba, who singled to start the inning. Nerei scored on an Adrian Martinez double to make it 3-1 in favor of the birds.
But the Coyotes answered back with a three-spot in the bottom of the inning. Howard’s triple plated Ben Gorang. Howard scored on a groundout by Hoeff, and Andrew Martirano came across home plate on a single by Wesley Hoskins to give the Coyotes their first lead off the game, 4-3.
The score was tied again in the top of the fourth after Tyler Liffrig scored on an error. But the Coyotes took the lead for good in the fifth on an RBI double that drove in Gorang. They added one in the sixth when Hoskins came in on a Jordan Drake single.
Brian Fowler pitched 4.2 innings and James LoPresti got the final two outs for the save, finishing off the 6-4 victory and sending Palm Desert to Saturday’s CWL Championship Game.
The second playoff game featured the #1 seed Canada A’s taking on the #4 seed Palm Springs Chill. Both starting pitchers, Taylor King for Canada and Mike Jackson for Palm Springs, were on top of their game.
The A’s got on the board first in the bottom of the second, as Brett Flowers doubled and later scored on an error.
Palm Springs tied it in the fourth on a Jonathan Cluff solo homerun, but Canada took the lead again in the bottom of the frame on singles by Brian Bistagne and Beau Brett, a sacrifice fly by Keith Castillo and a double by Darryl Stanfield.
Each team tallied a run in the seventh, and the A’s turned a double play in the ninth behind the save effort of Bryan Wilde to thwart the final comeback attempt by the Chill. Their 4-2 win sends them to the Championship Game against the Coyotes.
The 2011 season comes to a close on Saturday, with the Chill taking on the Snowbirds in the Bronze Game at 10 a.m., followed by the Championship Game, which is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch.
Both games can be heard live on the CWL website, at www.CaliforniaWinterLeague.com. The Championship Game will be simulcast on Newstalk 920 KPSI. Games are played at historic Palm Springs Stadium, located at 1901 E. Baristo Road in Palm Springs.