September 19, 2010 - Texas League (TL) - Midland RockHounds
In his preview of the Texas League Championship Series, Benjamin Hill (writing for Minor League Baseball's official web site) said "... the RockHounds went 35-35 in both halves and made it to the playoffs by virtue of playing in the league's thoroughly lackluster South Division."
Either Mr. Hill was absent during "research week" in school (sir, the word "thoroughly" in your so-called "preview" constiitutes an editorial) or his research is, itself, 'thoroughly lackluster."
First, Mr. Hill completely overlooked the fact that the North included Arkansas, the second worst team in all of Minor League Baseball (gee, Ben, think THAT might have inflated some win-loss records?). Second, he ignored the fact that the South was very well-balanced. No? NW Arkansas went 25-7 against Arkansas and was 11-13 against the South's top two clubs (Frisco and the RockHounds). Last, Ben Hill knows precious LITTLE about Darren Bush 's baseball club.
While the RockHounds fell to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, 3-games-to-1, it was a tightly-contested series, as evidenced by the last two scores of 2-1 and 2-0. While the Naturals certainly earned (are you listening, Mr. Hill, we are fair to both clubs) the Texas League title in a re-match of the 2009 series, the RockHounds were (still with us, Ben?) a MORE than worthy adversary.
In games 3 and 4 (both at Citibank Ballpark), starting pitching was sensational. Friday, John Lamb and Ryan Edell were brilliant, and Will Smith and Matt Wright followed suit on Saturday. Wright allowed two runs in 7.2 innings and Smith combined with Henry Barrera and Patrick Keating (who earned his fourth shutout of the post-season and his second of the series) on the shutout.
The Naturals broke a scoreless tie in the 5th on a triple by Anthony Seratelli, who was sensational in the playoffs. Seratelli hit three home runs in 299 at bats in the regular season, then hit FIVE in his first SIXTEEN AB's of the post-season ... three against Springfield and two more in game 1 of the title series. After his lead-off triple Saturday, he scored on Ryan Eigsti's ground out.
The last run of the game came on a play convoluted by a lengthy argument prompted when the umpiring crew first made a call ending the top of the 8th inning, then reversed the call. Darren Bush, understandably, was ejected arguing the umpiring "180." The initial call said that Eric Hosmer's 2-out single to left struck base-runner Johnny Giavotella (which would have been the third out of the inning). After a discussion, the call was reversed. While the reversal was, in all probablility, the correct call, it was an unnecessary blemish on an otherwise extremely well-played game.
Each team finished the contest with eight hits (the RockHounds out-hit NW Arkansas in each of the first three games), and the strength of the pitching in the two games on the 'Hounds home diamond was clear, with just five runs scored, combined in the two games.
"Bushy" guided the RockHounds to a franchise first: Back-to-back trips to the league championship series. The 'Hounds also made their fourth playoff appearance in the last six seasons, reaching the Texas League Championship Series in three of those trips.
Note to Ben Hill. Both Midland College and the University Of Texas Permian Basin (in Odessa, if that's more convenient) offer excellent journalism courses. Perhaps a refresher is overdue.
Note to YOU! From owners Miles Prentice & Bob Richmond, general manager Monty Hoppel and ALL of us in the RockHounds front office ... our sincere thanks for making this another tremendous season of professional baseball in West Texas. Your continued support is greatly and deeply appreciated. See ya for Opening Day, 2011 and our 40th Anniversary Season!
(Suppose Ben will want press credentials?)