JETHAWKS WRAPUP: THIS YEAR'S JETHAWKS WERE SCRAPPERS LANCASTER BATTLED ALL THE WAY TO THE END.
Byline: Gideon Rubin Staff Writer
LAKE ELSINORE - A remarkably resilient team that battled until the end. That's how the 2002 JetHawks believe they should be remembered.
And it's hard to argue otherwise.
After spending much of the first half of the season in a dubious race for the worst record in professional baseball, the JetHawks - as a result of a dramatic midseason turnaround - were in contention for a second-half title up until the last day of the season and made the playoffs as a wild-card team.
``We did the impossible, man,'' JetHawks outfielder Dwight Edge said. ``We went from the worst team in professional baseball to the playoffs. I'm proud to be a part of it. Ever since my junior year in high school every team I've been on has made the playoffs, so the way we played the second half, I'm just really proud to be a part of this team.''
The JetHawks were 40-30 in the second half and made the playoffs with a 63-77 overall record. They were swept by the Storm in a two-game divisional miniseries playoff. The decisive game lasted 15 innings.
``This is the team that never gave up,'' JetHawks reliever Brian Matzenbacher said. ``Everybody wrote us off in the first half, and for us to do what we did in the second half is really amazing. We just never gave up. We always had the confidence in ourselves that we were going to get better and we battled and finally it all came together in the second half.''
Everything came together in the second half because of a new attitude instilled by manager Bill Plummer William Francis Plummer (born March 21, 1947 in Oakland, CA) was a catcher for the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and the Seattle Mariners. While never a regular player (he was Johnny Bench's backup catcher during the Big Red Machine years), he did play solid defense. , who took over managerial duties for Steve Scarsone Steve Scarsone (born April 11, 1966 in Anaheim, California), is one of the producers of The Weekenders' Golf Tour, a golf-reality show. He is also a retired professional baseball player who played second base in the Major Leagues from 1992-1999. on May 16, when the team was 11-29.
The admittedly ``old-school'' Plummer took some getting used to in a clubhouse that had grown accustomed to the more ``player-friendly'' Scarsone. The players eventually did get used to him.
``I think the big thing was when Plum came into the locker room,'' JetHawks first baseman Corey Myers said. ``I think that that was definitely a turning point for this team, and it's nothing about Scars and it's nothing about Plum because they're both great managers. I just think there was definitely law around here when Plum took over.''
Plummer had no tolerance for the losing psychology that had fermented within the team. His first challenge was to purge the clubhouse of that, and then gradually get the team to play more competitively.
``When we started it (making the playoffs) was the last thing on their mind,'' Plummer said. ``They just wanted to get the season over with, so you have to be proud of them.''
The JetHawks began playing better at the end of the first half, winning seven of their last 11 games. They didn't win three consecutive games until the final week of the first half.
Newcomers were a key factor in the second-half turnaround. Third baseman third baseman
The infielder stationed near third base.
Noun 1. third baseman - (baseball) the person who plays third base
third sacker Brian Barden Brian David Barden (born April 3, 1981 in Corvallis, Oregon) is a Major League Baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals. He has played as a second baseman, third baseman, and shortstop. , catcher Chris Snyder Christopher Ryan Snyder (born February 12, 1981 in Houston, Texas) is a catcher in Major League Baseball who plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks (2004-present). He bats and throws right handed. See also
The Arizona Diamondbacks (also referred to as the D-backs) are a Major League Baseball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. They play in the West Division of the National League. in the June draft, and all made significant impacts.
Other late additions, including shortstop Dan Firlit, who was playing independent ball when the Diamondbacks signed him as a free agent in early August, and Scott Hairston Scott Alexander Hairston (born May 25, 1980 in Fort Worth, Texas) is an American second baseman/outfielder in Major League Baseball who plays for the San Diego Padres. Hairston bats and throws right handed. , a late-season call-up, helped the JetHawks get over the hump.
Pitchers Greg Aquino Gregori Emilio Aquino Valera (born January 11, 1978 in Palenque, Dominican Republic) is a baseball player for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Aquino was originally signed as an infielder as a 16-year-old in 1995, by the Diamondbacks. , Edgar Gonzalez Edgar Gonzalez can refer to
But it wasn't as if the Diamondbacks stacked their Single-A affiliate in the California League The California League is a minor league baseball league which operates throughout the state of California. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High-A" league, indicating its status as a Class A league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth to win. The JetHawks lost several key players to promotions in July, including closer Jesus Silva and catcher Craig Ansman, who represented Lancaster on the midseason All-Star team, and outfielders Victor Hall and Casey Daigle Sean Casey Daigle (born April 4, 1981 in Lake Charles, Louisiana) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He married softball pitcher Jennie Finch on January 15, 2005 at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. .
The JetHawks moved around several players at midseason, and all the moves worked. Pitcher Brandon Medders Brandon Edward Medders is a baseball pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks franchise. He was born on January 26, 1980 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Medders debuted for the Diamondbacks in 2005, going 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA and 31 strikeouts. went from being a failed starter to a dominant reliever, eventually taking over for Silva as the team's closer. After spending most of the first half struggling at third base, Myers was moved to first base, where he was a defensive standout and eventually got back on track offensively, hitting in a minor-league season-high 33 games in a row.
The JetHawks made a run at the second-half title, winning seven of their last eight games, but were up against a Lake Elsinore team that was even hotter. The Storm closed out its regular season by winning 10 consecutive games and 17 of its last 18.
Lancaster clinched a wild-card berth on the third-to-last day of the season against High Desert, the team they were chasing.
``I think it's more impressive that we won the wild-card because we started 0-0 in the second half, but to win the wild-card we had to come from 12 (games) back to High Desert and we did it,'' Matzenbacher said. ``It's something special we all should be proud of.''
They did it without the big bats that JetHawks fans have grown accustomed to in the past. Lancaster finished the season fifth in the league with 102 home runs, 33 of which came after August 1.
``We were scrappers,'' Myers said. ``We weren't last year's team with three or four 20-home run guys. We scrapped for all our wins. We did it with doubles and putting the bunt down and getting guys in scoring position In the sport of baseball, a baserunner is said to be in scoring position when he is on second or third base. The distinction between being on first base and second or third base is that a runner on first can usually only score if the batter hits an extra base hit, while a runner on . That's how we did it all season and that's how we should be remembered. We scrapped for every win and we tried to claw out eyes of the teams that we lost to.''
COREY MYERS: JetHawks first baseman had 33-game hitting streak In baseball, a hitting streak refers to the consecutive number of official games in which a player gets at least one base hit. Games in which a player does not have any official at bats due to walks, or sacrifice bunts, or being hit by a pitch, are ignored (neither break the streak this season.