Threat beats Outlaws

The Independence Threat and Texas Outlaws got together (Finally!) for their long-awaited showdown, with the juggernaut Garden State Galactic Goats waiting in the wings for the winner:

GAME 1 @ TEXAS Indy sent stud lefty Randy Johnson out in the opener, with Texas countering with the young A.J. Burnett. After Mags Ordonez got things started with a solo homer in the 2nd inning, Texas responded with ex-Threat second-baseman Jeff Kent whalloping a two-run shot off Johnson in the 3rd frame. It remained that way until the 7th, when league-leading homerun king Raphael Palmeiro led off with a deep drive into the right field seats to knot the score at 2-2. Indy got to Burnett again in the eighth, with Blum leading off with a triple, then pinch-hitter Bob Fick doubling into the gap. Jose Mesa relieved, but could not quell the Threat rally, as Dave Roberts, Junior Spivey and Bernie Williams all singled to open the lead to 5-2. Threat closer Luis Vizcaino did the job in the 9th, giving up a 2-out double to John Olerud before ending the opener by getting Rey Ordonez to ground out.

Threat......5 9 0 OutLaws..2 6 0 WP: Johnson LP: Burnett Sv: Vizcaino

GAME 2 @ TEXAS The Threat sent their other 20-game winner to the mound in the second game, as Bartolo Colon toed the rubber against Ismael Valdes. Once again Indy went deep early as Nomar Garciaparra smacked a two-run homer in the top of the 2nd. The OutLaws got one back in the bottom of the inning as Sandy Alomar Jr. delivered a clutch two-out single to plate Reggie Sanders. Indy opened up the game in the sixth thanks to a solo homerun from Palmeiro, then Garciaparra delivered again with his 2nd two-run homerun in the 7th, and it was all over but the crying as Colon was masterful into the 9th. Vizcaino again was called upon the record the final two outs after Bartolo began to tire, and Independence found themselves up 2-0 in the series after posting the 6-1 win.

Threat.......6 7 1 OutLaws...1 8 0 WP: Colon LP: Valdes

GAME 3 @ INDEPENDENCE After the travel day, Independence returned home for game 3, and sent lefty Mark Mulder to the mound to face wily vet Roger Clemens. The OutLaws got to Mulder early, scoring two in the first (Sanders double, Kent double, Bonds single), and two more in the 3rd (on a two-run homer by wrecking crew Jeff Kent). Indy closed the gap in the 4th, scoring twice thanks to some shaky defense from Texas, and a big single from Junior Spivey. But Clemens settled down, and Threat relievers Mike Timlin and Rick White added fuel to the fire, with Kent driving in three more runs with doubles in the 7th and 9th innings (he would finish the game 4-5 with 6 RBI), and OutLaw bullpeners Roberts, Walker, Roa and Remlinger each contributed as Texas got back into the series with a convincing 7-2 win.

OutLaws...7 8 2 Threat......2 5 3 WP: Clemens LP: Mulder

GAME 4 @ INDEPENDENCE The Threat decided to come back with ace Randy Johnson in game 4, and Texas responded by starting Andy Pettitte. Once again the OutLaws got to The Big Unit early, posting a two-spot in the first, thanks to a run-scoring single from Ellis Burks and a sacrifice fly from Kevin Millar - but it could have been worse. Indy tied the game in the third as Bob Fick delivered an RBI single, and while Bernie Williams' double play put the kibosh on a big inning, it did deliver the tying run. Both pitchers threw goose-eggs until the sixth, when Independence again took the lead behind a leadoff single by Garciaparra that was booted into a two-base error, with Nomar winding up at third. A sac fly by Conine broke the tie, and a single by Matt Williams, a walk to Jay Gibbons and a two-out single from Jose Offerman off Mike Stanton gave the Theat a 4-2 lead. Indy added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on a single from reserve Eddie Perez, but Randy Johnson didn't really need it, as he went the distance in the 5-2 win, giving the Threat a huge 3-1 advantage in the series.

OutLaws...2 6 1 Threat......5 10 0 WP: Johnson LP: Stanton

GAME 5 @ INDEPENDENCE The Threat took a chance in game five, starting little-used Aaron Harang to start against Burnett and the OutLaws. It backfired as soon as the game started, with Harang hitting Hammonds to start the game, giving up a single to Sanders, followed by a bombing three-run blast from - who else? - Jeff Kent, leaving Threat fans to wonder "Barry Who?". Indy did battle back to tie the score with two runs in the first a single in the 2nd, but Texas moved ahead again, as Jeff Kent greeted Harang with a homerun to lead off the visitor's 5th. The OutLaws assured that the series would move back to Texas as Bonds led off the 7th with a homerun off Rick White, and Alomar took Mike Timlin deep for a two-run shot to seal the deal. Jose Mesa tossed 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief as the OutLaws were victorious by an 8-4 count.

OutLaws...8 14 0 Threat......4 8 0 WP: Burnett LP: Harang Sv: Mesa

GAME 6 @ TEXAS With their backs still to the wall, Texas returned home and sent Ismael Valdes out to try to force a game seven. Indy countered with game two winner Bartolo Colon. After two scoreless inning, Indy broke on top as Dave Roberts singled with two outs, moved to second on a passed ball, and scored as Junior Spivey delivered the clutch single. Texas loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth, but could only secure a single run as Burks drove in the run with a sac fly. The Threat put up a big inning in the fifth, getting four singles and two OutLaw errors to post a 3-run frame and take a 4-1 lead. A two-out triple in the 6th from Garciaparra, followed by a single from Geoff Blum inched the Indy lead to 5-1, and the Texas fans began to be restless in the stands, waiting on something good to happen for the home team. It did, in the bottom of the sixth. After striking out Sanders and Kent to begin the frame, Colon lost his composure after arguing two straight ball-strike calls, and walked Bonds and Burks. Rob Mackowiak, who had entered the game in the top of the inning as a defensive replacement, then improbably took Colon deep into the seats, and suddenly the ballgame was close again, with Indy clinging to a 5-4 lead. In the top of the 7th inning, Indy's Dave Roberts led off with a walk, then was sacrificed to second by Spivey. Bernie Williams delivered as he has done so many times over so many years for Independence, singling home Roberts for a 6-4 lead. Colon then decided that the series was his to win or lose, and magnificently strode to the mound and set down the Texas OutLaws in order in the 8th and 9th innings, giving Indy the win and a trip to the GABL World Series against the Galactic Goats.

Threat.......6 12 0 OutLaws...4 3 2

In a strange series, only one game was won by the home team. Perennial beast-master Barry Bonds failed to deliver for the OutLaws, going 3-17 (.176) with one homerun and one RBI to show for the series (he did, as usual, draw 10 walks).

Threat manager Lennie Cohen said "It was a great series, played well between two evenly matched ball clubs, but we'll take the win and look forward to butting heads with those tough tough Goats in the Series."