Giants cap perfect season, beat Angels in South Tahoe Babe Ruth championship
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — In the South Tahoe Babe Ruth baseball championship game, the Giants achieved perfection in style. The league’s top-seeded team beat the third-seeded Angels 14-4 in six innings Wendesday night at Todd Fields Park, closing out an undefeated campaign with an emphatic victory.
“It’s very cool after all of our hard work — it’s just the perfect end to a great season,” Giants starting pitcher Kevin Lehmann said.
In the title game, the Giants jumped out to an early lead en route to their 20th win of the season. The regular season champions opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, and added two more in the third on a Jose Burgueno RBI sacrifice fly and a two-out error by the Angels to take a 4-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, the Angels broke through for a run against Giants right-hander Kevin Lehmann — and could have had more. Following a one-out double by Tyler Wattanachinda, cleanup hitter Joe Kaufman hit an RBI single that made it 4-1 — with two outs and runners on first and third later in the frame, Kevin Lehmann produced a three-pitch strikeout to end the threat.
The Giants answered in the next half-inning with five runs — all of which were scored with two outs — to go ahead 9-1. Kyle Dane started the rally with an RBI single, and it included a pair of clutch hits with the bases loaded — an RBI infield single from Caleb Bray and a two-run double by Gunnar Barnwell.
“We had contributions from everyone,” Giants manager Mark Lehmann said. “That was the beauty of this team — we had a team that was deep and there were no easy outs anywhere in the lineup.”
The Angels began their comeback attempt in the top of the fifth, after needing only one batter to chase Kevin Lehmann. Burgueno came in the game in relief, and allowed two straight base runners following a strikeout.
With one out and the bases loaded, Wattanachinda smacked a two-run double that made it 9-3 — and Kaufman pulled the Angels to within five runs with an RBI groundout in the next at-bat. In the bottom of the fifth, Angels reliever Austin Burdick pitched out of a bases loaded jam to keep the score 9-4.
Dane took the mound for the Giants in the top of the sixth, and the Angels put three straight batters aboard with one out to load the bases. Badly in need of an out to stop the threat, the Giants got two in the form of a 1-2-3 double play — Cameron Johnson hit a ground ball toward the mound that Dane picked and fired home, then Giants catcher Connor Long immediately threw the ball to first base for the third out of the inning.
“That was a relief — after that we just had to go out there and hit,” Dane said. “We just had to keep our heads up — it was a little rough in the middle of the game, but nobody got rattled.”
After limiting the damage defensively for two straight innings, the Giants came alive at the plate in the bottom of the sixth to secure the championship and complete an unbeaten campaign. They scored five runs as part of a two-out rally to enact the 10-run rule — a rally that featured three bases loaded hits.
Bryin Schouten and Kevin Lehmann produced back-to-back RBI singles to make it 11-4, and their hits were followed by a Dane two-run double. The bases were still loaded after a walk when Bray was hit by a pitch, allowing the Giants to win in walk-off fashion.
“It means a lot — it’s special because you don’t get to do it every year,” Dane said.
After opening the 2015 campaign with a win over the Padres on May 3, the Giants finished the six-week Babe Ruth season without a loss in the competitive six-team league. The team began thinking about the possibility of an unbeaten season after going undefeated without Dane, who returned after five games — and made it all the way to the end with an unblemished record.
“We had a really good group of players and excellent coaches,” Mark Lehmann said. “They worked hard all year and got better and better — I’m really proud of the guys.”
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