Grand Junction/Harrison Review

by Greg Nims

Grand Junction (AP) - The Grand Junction Skillet, the Summer League Wild Card team with a record of 83-79, topped the Harrison Cheeky Monkeys, the Summer League team with the top regular season record (100-62), 4 games to 2 with a climatic 9-8 win in game 6. Down 6-3 entering the ninth, visiting Harrison plated three runs to send the game into extra innings. In the 12th, Harrison took a two run lead on a two run homer by some Cheeky Monkey I don't recall. In the bottom of the twelth, Kevin Young tripled home two runners and scored on the following pitch to end the series.

The Monkeys won the season series 16-5, and were heavy favorites entering the series. In game one, the Monkeys hit two two-run, ninth-inning home runs off Greg Maddux to win it 7-5. The Skillet battled back and won game two behind Smoltz, with game three looming in Grand Junction as the pivotal game in the series.

"We surprisingly kept our cool when Maddux blew game one," said Greg Nims, Skillet field manager. "We felt that if we won game two we had a chance to come back. Smotlzie sure came through."

The Skillet took the field in their home blacks, with Denny Neagle heading to the hill. The Monkeys took an early 2-1 lead which stood until a Todd Hundley solo shot in the 7th. Kevin Brown and Neagle both pitched brilliantly with eeriely similar pitching lines:

        GS    IP  H R ER 2B 3B HR BF K BB IBB
Brown   78   10.0 5 2 2  3  0  1  36 6 2  0
Neagle  78   10.0 5 2 2  3  0  1  37 7 2  1

GS = game score
BF = batters faced
Larry Christiansen saw his first action of the series to open the 11th, and promptly gave up two baserunners and left the game. The Monkeys managed to score one, but the Skillet tied it up in the bottom of the 11th. In the 14th, both teams again scored one run. The Skillet won it in the 15th, scoring one to take the game 5-4 on the strength of Bob Wickman's 3 innings of shutout ball.

In game four, the Monkeys attacked Skillet starter Pat Hentgen early and often. Pat finished with a game score of -17 (not a misprint, negative seventeen) by pitching 7 innings and giving up 12 earned runs. After Hentgen left trailing 12-1, the Skillet scored 9 runs in the seventh, eigth, and ninth to make the final 12-10.

"I felt we had to save the 'pen, we were really hurting after game two dragged on for 15," stated Nims. "I felt that a 2-2 tie with Maddux on deck was a fine position to be in."

The series headed back to Harrison in a 2-2 deadlock with Maddux and Benes as the scheduled starters for Game 5. The Skillet took an early lead and rode Maddux the rest of the way. Maddux carried a 4-0 lead much of the game, until the Skillet plated two in the top of the ninth. The Monkeys scored three in the bottom of the inning to complete the final _OF_ (dan patrick reference) 6-3.

Smoltz and Morris was the matchup for Game Six in Grand Junction. The Skillet had a 3-2 advantage which surprised both fans and media alike. Brown and Neagle was the matchup for Game Seven in Harrison, so the Skillet really wanted to finish it now.

The game is a blur until the 6-3 ninth when Harrison stormed back and forced extra innings.

Snippet in time: down 6-5 with Bonds on first, two gone, Griffey singles to right. Bonds goes to third, Mondesi fires it over. "Advance to Second?" Chris thinks for twenty seconds "Do I want to end my season at second base?" and decides to hold go-ahead run Griffey at first. The following hitter (Kelly?) singles in Bonds and we go to extra innings.

It remained at 6 until the 12th, and Young's heroics.

Player highlights off the top of my head...

Bonds and Griffey destroyed me. Must have hit 8 or so dongs. Both scored and drove in a bunch. Greer hit .464. For the series the Monkeys hit 13 dongs, the Skillet 10. Higginson, Chipper, and Jay Bell (of all people, Jay couldn't hit all year) were the main producers for the Skillet. Bell hit .429, while Higginson and Chipper both scored and drove in a good amount of runs. David Segui was injured in Game 2 for 9 days, will be back in the World Series (if the Manhattan-Pullman series goes 7 games, he will be ready for Game 4, else not till Game 5). Needless to say, this severely strapped the pinch-hitting abilities of the bench. (In the game Segui got injured in, Mo was DHing. Young came in for Segui and got ejected for arguing a call at the plate. idiot.)