SWEET SEASON, SOUR FINISH 'HAWKS ENJOY SUCCESS UNTIL LEAGUE SERIES.Byline: Gideon Rubin Staff Writer
LANCASTER - They spent the summer thrilling fans with walk-off homers, developed some of baseball's most exciting prospects and won titles in both halves of 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 season despite fielding drastically different teams in each.
For those accomplishments, among others, the 2004 JetHawks later this week will be honored by The Sporting News as the minor-league Team Noun 1. minor-league team - a team that plays in a minor league
farm club, farm team - a minor-league team that is owned by a major-league team (especially in baseball)
team, squad - a cooperative unit (especially in sports) of the Year.
That distinction notwithstanding, the most successful season in the franchise's history ended in heartbreaking fashion.
Locked in a gripping league championship series with the Modesto A's that went to a decisive fifth game Monday, the JetHawks came up short in a 4-3 loss, leaving the potential tying run 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 they battled back from a four-run deficit was a tribute to their competitive spirit. But coming so close at the end made it hurt that much more.
``It's tough,'' JetHawks outfielder Jay Garthwaite said, fighting off tears. ``Any time you work this hard and you get this far and you end up losing, it's really hard.''
JetHawks manager Wally Backman
Compounding the JetHawks' disappointment was that it cameafter taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series after Saturday's dramatic 8-7 victory n 10 innings. Reggie Abercrombie Reginald Demascus Abercrombie (born July 15, 1980 in Columbus, Georgia) is a Major League Baseball outfielder for the Houston Astros.
Reggie graduated from Columbus High School. scored the winning run, slamming into Modesto catcher John Suomi at the plate. Suomi suffered a knee injury on the play and was sidelined for the rest of the series.
``Nobody remembers the second-place team,'' Backman said. ``I thought we played like champions (Monday). We just fell a little bit short.''
The JetHawks won titles in both halves despite drastic midseason personnel moves that saw them go from a team that was on pace to obliterate o·blit·er·ate
1. To remove an organ or another body part completely, as by surgery, disease, or radiation.
2. To blot out, especially through filling of a natural space by fibrosis or inflammation. the franchise's single-season home run record in the first half to a more National League-style team in the second half that relied on pitching and speed.
The team's camaraderie withstood all the changes, though, allowing the newcomers to make a seamless transition.
``The connection from the beginning of the season to the end of the season was just awesome,'' catcher Phil Avlas said. ``We clicked as a team. Everybody was so close. That's why this is so hard right now.''
The JetHawks went wire-to-wire in winning the second-half title with a team of players many in the parent Arizona Diamondbacks This article is about the baseball team. For other uses, see Diamondback.
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. organization considered to be overachievers.
They won a first-half title with what then-farm director Tommy Jones Tommy Jones is an American professional bowler currently on the Denny's PBA Tour (Professional Bowlers Association).
Born on November 2, 1978, Jones is a current resident of Simpsonville, South Carolina. Jones, a right-handed cranker, is one of the "hottest" pros on the tour today. said was the ``most talent-rich team (the Diamondbacks) have sent anywhere,'' that underachieved before a series of team meetings energized the club, helping sending it on a run in which it won 21 of 25 games, concluding with a June 16 title-clinching victory at San Jose San Jose, city, United States
San Jose (sănəzā`, săn hōzā`), city (1990 pop. 782,248), seat of Santa Clara co., W central Calif.; founded 1777, inc. 1850. .
The ``Three Amigos'' - outfielders Conor Jackson Conor Sims Jackson (nicknamed Co-Jack or Action) was born May 7, 1982 in Austin, Texas. He is a first baseman in Major League Baseball who plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He bats right handed and throws right handed. He is 6'2" and roughly 225 pounds. and Carlos Quentin Carlos Quentin (born August 28, 1982 in Bellflower, California, is an outfielder who plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks. School years
Quentin attended Saint Pius X Elementary School (Chula Vista, California), and later, University of San Diego High School (San Diego, , and third baseman third baseman
The infielder stationed near third base.
Noun 1. third baseman - (baseball) the person who plays third base
third sacker Jamie D'Antona - set the tone for the JetHawks in the first half, combining for 39 homers and 162 RBI RBI
runs batted in
Noun 1. rbi - a run that is the result of the batter's performance; "he had more than 100 rbi last season"
run batted in .
The three, along with staff ace Clint Goocher, were among six players promoted to Double-A El Paso El Paso (ĕl pă`sō), city (1990 pop. 515,342), seat of El Paso co., extreme W Tex., on the Rio Grande opposite Juárez, Mex.; inc. 1873. (Texas) after the first half. But the JetHawks got production from players who had been assigned to Lancaster from El Paso to resurrect their careers and from converted reliever Enrique Gonzalez, who emerged as the staff ace.
All exceeded expectations, with Garthwaite batting .311 with 12 homers and 41 RBI, Dan Uggla Daniel Cooley Uggla (born March 11 , 1980 in Louisville, Kentucky) is a Major League Baseball second baseman for the Florida Marlins. Uggla finished third in the 2006 National League Rookie of the Year voting behind teammate Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington hitting .336 with six homers and 38 RBI and Doc Brooks going on a tear after being moved to the leadoff spot, batting .369 over the last month.
Gonzalez went 10-2 with a 2.46 ERA in 17 starts.
``It's been a great year for them,'' Backman said. ``There've been great things that have happened this year. We've produced products that are going to be impact players in the big leagues and we've had guys come down (from Double-A) that had to kind of re-energize their careers.
But for all their accomplishments, the JetHawks' failure to close out the championship series they led at home going into Game 4 will be an indelible mark on the team's legacy.
Backman acknowledged as much in the final clubhouse meeting after Game 5, when he told his players to ``remember the feeling'' of losing the championship series as well as the emotions surrounding their divisional playoff series victory over Inland Empire.
``The only reason you play this game is to become a champion,'' Backman said. ``If there's some other reason, or if it's for the money, then you shouldn't be playing.''
Gideon Rubin, (818) 713-3607
A SEASON TO REMEMBER
--April 8: Daniel Tosca hits two of the JetHawks' four homers in a season-opening 7-3 victory over visiting High Desert.
--April 13: Manager Wally Backman flips a table in a clubhouse tirade after an 8-1 loss to Lake Elsinore.
--April 30: Former first-round draft pick Jason Bulger, coming off Tommy John surgery Tommy John surgery, known by doctors as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (or UCL), is a surgical procedure in which a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body (often from the forearm, hamstring, knee, or foot of the , joins the JetHawks and takes over as the closer for a struggling Dustin Glant. His 98-mph fastball helps him emerge as one of the California League's most effective closers.
--May 21: The JetHawks hit rock bottom with a 16-2 loss to Inland Empire, tying a franchise record for the most lopsided loss.
--May 22: After rallying from a six-run deficit, the JetHawks lose 8-7 when Inland Empire scores a run in the ninth inning. It was the JetHawks' seventh loss in nine games and dropped them four games out of first place, jeopardizing their first-half title hopes.
--May 23: The beleaguered be·lea·guer
tr.v. be·lea·guered, be·lea·guer·ing, be·lea·guers
1. To harass; beset: We are beleaguered by problems.
2. To surround with troops; besiege. pitching staff gets a strong outing from ace Clint Goocher in a 7-2 victory over Inland Empire that starts the JetHawks on a stretch in which they won 21 of 25, culminating with an 8-1 victory at San Jose that clinched the first-half title.
--June 20: A blockbuster 11-player transaction sees the JetHawks lose the nucleus of their first-half title team, including their vaunted vaunt
v. vaunt·ed, vaunt·ing, vaunts
To speak boastfully of; brag about.
To speak boastfully; brag. See Synonyms at boast1.
1. ``Three Amigos'' - outfielders Conor Jackson and Carlos Quentin, and third baseman Jamie D'Antona.
--June 21: Barely an hour after joining the team from Double-A El Paso (Texas) to start the second half, Jay Garthwaite hits a three-run homer in a 6-4 victory over Visalia, helping set the team on course for a 6-0 start and an eventual second-half title.
--July 15: Mike Schultz ties a professional record shared by three others with five strikeouts in one inning in a bizarre 19-4 loss to Rancho Cucamonga that set a franchise record for the most lopsided loss.
--July 20: A 17-1 loss to High Desert breaks the franchise record for most lopsided loss set just five days earlier.
--Sept. 14: The JetHawks defeat Inland Empire 5-4 to win the division playoff series and advance to the California League championship series for first time in franchise history.
--Sept. 20: A ninth-inning rally comes up short as the JetHawks leave tying run in scoring position and end their season with a 4-3 loss to Modesto in Game 5 of the league championship series.
- Gideon Rubin
2 photos, box
(1) Danny Richar pulls his jersey over his head after the JetHawks lose the final game of the league championship series.
(2) Adam Bass put the JetHawks in a hole by allowing four runs in four innings. Those four runs turned out to be enough for Modesto.
Gus Ruelas/Staff Photographer
A SEASON TO REMEMBER (see text)