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Old Today, 11:14 AM   #121
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ABL Championship Series
Game One

Neither ace was sharp as Memphis' Jesse Tannehill locked up with Phoenix's Stephen Strasburg. Jake Stahl hit a leadoff double, moved to third on a Rafael Furcal groundout and scored on a George Brett groundout to give Memphis a 1-0 lead. But Phoenix answered when Frank Chance doubled to lead off the bottom of the first. Tannehill retired the next two, but then walked a pair to load the bases. Ross Youngs bounced a routine shot to short but Rafael Furcal muffed it, allowing Chance to score and knot up the game.

Josh Hamilton homered for Memphis in the top of the second to reclaim and lead, and Tannheill threw a 1-2-3 bottom half, needing only seven pitches to do so. Strasburg danced out of trouble in the third, leaving the bases loaded, and then Phoenix struck.

Chance walked and Ozzie Smith singled before Western League RBI champ Sam Crawford drilled a shot into the gap in left-center, scoring both runners and landing on third himself with a triple. Frank Howard would then have an 8-pitch at bat before singling home Crawford for a 4-2 Phoenix lead.

Memphis would answer though in the top of the fourth, when Snuffy Stirnweiss doubled to open the inning and Brett singled him home two batters later. Ed Delahanty then cranked a blast to deep center that struck the top of the wall. Brett would score, Delahanty would take third and Memphis had tied the game at 4.

Leadoff runners had killed both Tannehill and Strasburg thus far and they would again in the bottom of the fourth, when Paul Blair opened things with a single and, two batters later, Chance came through again, doubling down the third base line to bring Blair home and put Memphis back on top 5-4.

Tannehill would settle in, but unfortunately for him and Memphis, so would Strasburg. No more runs would cross for either side and Strasburg would leave in the bottom of the ninth after a Furcal single. Jose Valverde came on and walked Brett to put the tying run in scoring position. But Delahanty would ground out and Hamilton would swing and miss at a 3-2 fastball to close it out and give Phoenix first blood in the series.

Phoenix 5, Memphis 4 (Phoenix leads 1-0)
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Old Today, 06:53 PM   #122
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ABL Championship Series
Game Two

Game One had a title fight aspect to it that Memphis had lived through during its series with New York in the ELCS. And so, even though Memphis fell short in the ABLCS opener, they had every belief they could come back with a shot of their own in Game Two.

Standing in against 19-game winner Jake Miller, Memphis made it clear early that they were ready to fight again. A one-out single from Rafael Furcal was followed by Miller hitting Ed Delahanty. Josh Hamilton topped one to first to move the runners over before George Brett laced a 2-2 fastball into right. Furcal scored easily and Delahanty barely beat the throw from Ross Youngs as Memphis got out to a 2-0 lead.

Van Mungo needed five pitches to record the first two outs in the bottom half, but Sam Crawford came within inches of a homer, settling for a triple off the top of the wall in right-center. Mungo then hurt his own cause with a wild pitch that brought Crawford home, and Memphis' lead was cut in half.

Both pitchers would allow nothing for the next three innings, but in the top of the fifth it was Miller's turn to hurt his own cause. An errant pickoff throw to hold slow-footed Ed Bailey close at first sent Bailey to second. He'd move to third on a groundout and score on a Jake Stahl sac fly to put Memphis up 3-1.

Phoenix, however, didn't have baseball's best record without reason. Frank Chance, who hit .375 in the WLCS and was 2-for-3 with a walk in Game One, worked out a walk in the bottom of the fifth and was able to walk the remaining 270 feet too after WLCS MVP Ozzie Smith lined a shot just over the rightfield wall to knot the game at 3.

Gil Hodges would have his best at-bat of the postseason in the top of the 6th, fouling off six straight pitches from Miller before stroking an RBI single that once again put Memphis on top, 4-3.

Mungo took the hill in the top of the 7th, but Chance's leadoff double would end that. Rob Dibble came in, after Smith sacrificed Chance to third, walked Crawford and Frank Howard to load the bases.

Manager Bob Melvin had pushed the envelope a lot during the ELCS, particularly with Dibble. He would not do so again here. But after Bob Friend walked Ross Youngs to force home the tying run, Gabby Hartnett would smash a grounder to Buddy Myer, who had come on for defense. Myer would cut Crawford down at home for the second out.

But Lonny Frey hammered a 1-1 curveball into the gap in right-center, picking up a bases-clearing double and giving Phoenix a 7-4 lead they would carry into the 8th.

Miller went out to start the 8th at 110 pitches, and seven pitches later he was gone, with one out but one run on the board after a Brett double and a Chili Davis RBI single made it 7-5. Jose Valverde came on and struck out Hodges before walking Bailey.

Snuffy Stirnweiss would turn off the amp in Memphis with a double into the gap that would score Davis and Bailey and tie the game again, this time at 7.

Jose DeLeon worked a scoreless 8th and Valverde was questionably kept on for the 9th for Phoenix. The question was answered, loudly, when Josh Hamilton scalded a two-out first-pitch fastball into the rightfield seats for his fourth postseason home run, putting Memphis up 8-7.

DeLeon would be kept in to finish things off, getting Blair to pop up to Brett for the game's final out and to send the series back to Memphis tied 1-1.

Memphis 8, Phoenix 7 (series tied 1-1)
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