Applegate shocks Chatfield for 2015 World Series title

paperclipsIt will forever be known as “The Lomax That Derailed the Choo-Choos.”

With Chatfield up 3-1 in games and 2-1 in the fourth inning of Game Five, Troy Tulowitzki rolled into a lomax triple play, the Applegate Paperclips took the lead in the bottom of the inning and the Choo-Choos never scored in that game again.

The series went back to Chatfield for Games Six and Seven, but the Choo-Choos’ momentum never returned, as Applegate posted a 4-1 win in Game Six and 5-2 win in Game Seven to capture the 2015 I-75 League World Series title.

It’s the third World Championship for Gary Kicinski and Applegate, and second in four years, having also conquered Chatfield in the 2012 World Series. Applegate’s other World Series win came in 1996.

“I’m still stunned,” Kicinski said hours after the games. “To think we nearly threw in the towel on this team after April … we just were very fortunate in the last three games of the Series and had a lot of things fall our way at key moments.”

It was a bittersweet outcome for Chatfield, which lost a 3-1 series lead one year after watching a 3-0 series lead go down the drain to South Grand Prairie.

Applegate had started the season 15-25, but shook off two months of ineptitude to storm to an 82-38 record the rest of the way. A trade deadline pickup of Ken Giles from Hickory added 46 unblemished innings to an already-strong bullpen.

But Chatfield presented an even stronger team that had made even stronger trades to compile a deeper bullpen, built for the playoffs and backed by two of the best starting pitcher cards in the set and a lineup stacked with players who were great both offensively and defensively. The Choo-Choos were the postseason’s top-seeded team after a league-best 103-win season.

So when the Clips headed to Chatfield for Games Six and Seven, their expectations of winning both games to come home with the title were fairly faint.

“I felt Game Six was the key,” Kicinski said. “I thought if somehow we could beat Garrett Richards – and we’d beaten him already once in Game Two – we could compete against Doug Fister in Game Seven, even though he held us to two hits in his first outing.”

The tale of Game Six was told in the first three innings, as Applegate capitalized on the scoring chances it had, while Chatfield did not. The Clips opened the game with a walk and a double to put men at second and third, and Michael Brantley drove in one run with a groundout. Chatfield put two men on in both the first and second innings, but could not score a run.

In the third, Seth Smith homered for Applegate to make it 2-0, and Justin Turner doubled in Russell Martin, who had reached on Chatfield’s fifth pitcher error of the series.

Justin Morneau homered in the bottom of the third for Chatfield to cut the lead to 3-1, but Applegate got that back in the fourth. With two out and a runner on second, Chatfield manager Phil Roselli yanked Richards in favor of Aaron Sanchez, who hit Russell Martin to bring up Brantley. Knowing the Clips were unlikely to pinch-hit for Brantley, Roselli ushered in Sean Doolittle and his hitless-vs.-lefties card. Brantley foiled that strategy with a 3-6 roll that drove in the final run of the game.

The Clips would muster just one hit the rest of the way against a parade of relievers, but Chatfield fared little better, as Kyle Hendricks pitched effectively into the seventh before giving way to Andrew Miller and Wade Davis to button things up.

That forced a Game Seven, and the Clips built their lineup with their sights set on targeting Doug Fister’s 5-3, 5-4, 5-5 power zone on his card against righties. Meanwhile, Applegate was able to trot out asterisk-blessed Johnny Cueto for his third start of the series, even though he was the losing pitcher in Games One and Four.

The strategy paid dividends in the second inning, when Hunter Pence zeroed in on the 5-5 roll with a man on for a 2-0 lead, and Derek Norris went deep with a man on (via a 2-12 roll) in the third for a 4-0 lead. Fister exited and Brantley drilled a double off another lefty, Fernando Abad, scoring three batters later on a Pence single, and suddenly the Clips were up 5-0.

Cueto gave up a solo homer to Kyle Seager in the fifth and turned his 5-1 lead over to the bullpen. Chatfield threatened in the sixth with a walk and a single off Andrew Miller, so the Clips came early and came hard with Wade Davis, who struck out Troy Tulowitzki, induced a lineout from Denard Span, and struck out Jose Abreu to escape the jam.

Chatfield did scratch out its second run in the eighth inning on a Tulowitzki RBI single, and Giles (who came on for the ninth) gave up a leadoff walk before striking out Devin Mesoraco and getting a game-ending, series-ending doubleplay out of Scooter Gennett.

So the Clips won a World Series in which they hit just .200 as a team and were outscored 24-23. Chatfield had 60 hits to Applegate’s 45, and 10 homers to Applegate’s six. “We did have seven guys get on by hit-by-pitches,” Kicinski pointed out.

Chatfield’s Devin Mesoraco was named Series MVP in a losing effort, after crushing four homers, driving in nine runs and hitting .333.

But the category that may have had the most impact might have been this:

Triple plays turned: Applegate 1

Congratulations to the Choo-Choos and Manager Phil Roselli on another dominant 160-game season. His sportsmanship in the frustrating losing effort is appreciated, and it’s unfortunate that the tides shifted just enough for Applegate to prevail in a short series

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