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E.S.L. 2003 Post-Season Summary

Plague Wins 26th ESL Championship

Pittsford Becomes 1st ESL Team to Win Three Titles Within Four Years

Ellis Burks Named MVP of League Finals

The 2003 Empire State League post-season didn't feature the outstanding pitching of a year before. Instead it featured heroics by some surprising players, as well as the longest game in ESL post-season history, an incredible 18-inning contest in Game 4 of the Finals.

Semi-Finals: Pittsford Plague Over the Pelham Pipers      3 Games to 1

Game 1:    Pittsford Plague 6  -  Pelham Pipers 4

The Pipers jumped out to a four run lead against Pedro Martinez, but they couldn't hold it. Homers by Palmeiro, Batista, and Santiago led to the Plague victory.  Martinez survived a shaky start to get the win over Mike Mussina.

Game 2:   Pittsford Plague 11 - Pelham Pipers 3

The Pipers' woes against left-handers continued as they were shackled by Odalis Perez in the post-season's biggest  blow-out.  The Plague scored 8 runs in the bottom of the third, capped by a Robbie Alomar grand-slam to take a commanding 10-0 lead, and then they cruised home.  Berkman homered for the second game in a row in the losing cause.

Game 3:  Pelham Pipers 4 - Pittsford Plague 1

Behind the right-arm of Steve Trachsel and a timely 2-run single by Junior Spivey, the Pipers notched their only victory of the post-season.  Trachsel went 6.1 innings and fanned seven. The lone Plague run came on Tony Batista's 2nd homer of the series. Greg Maddux gave up only one earned run in six frames but took the loss.

Game 4:  Pittsford Plague 5 - Pelham Pipers 0

Ken Rogers got the start, as Pittsford threw another lefty at the Piper bats and the results were predictable.  Rogers went seven shut-out innings and got support from Benito Santiago, who hit his 2nd homer, and Tony Batistsa who hit his 3rd.  Pittsford advanced to the finals, hoping to defend their E.S.L. title.

 

Finals: Pittsford Plague over the Albany Capitals

4 games to 2.

Game 1:  Albany Capitals 7 - Pittsford Plague 5

The Caps jumped out to an early lead, knocking out Pedro Martinez with four runs before a man was out in the 3rd. Luis Gonzalez brought the Plague close with a 3-run shot in the 4th, but Brian Lawrence couldn't hold off the Caps' bats and the boys from Albany took their first step toward the E.S.L. crown that had eluded them since the founding of the league in 1977.

Game 2:  Albany Capitals 5 - Pittsford Plague 3

Kip Wells  got the start in game two and he responded with a solid 7.1 IP to earn the win. Rob Nen got his second save in as many games.  The Caps took a commanding two games to none lead, despite two home runs by Ellis Burks of the Plague.

Game 3:  Pittsford Plague 10 - Albany Capitals 8

This was a "must win" game for the Plague, but they again fell behind early, with the Caps leading 3-0 after an inning and a half.  Pittsford rallied for four runs in the bottom of the second, but Albany responed with four runs in the third to lead 7-4. It looked like they were well on their way to their first title. But the Plague chipped away for six runs during the 4th through the 7th off of Prior and the Albany bullpen.  Rhodes got the win with 2 shut-out innings and Rivera again came in for the save. The Caps left 11 men on base.

Game 4:  Pittsford Plague 3 - Albany Capitals 2  (18 innings)

This game will long be remembered as one of the classic duels in league history. It was scoreless until the 6th, when Rafael Palmeiro knocked in a run to give the Plague the lead.  Martinez hurled shut-out ball into the 7th and the Plague took a shut-out into the 9th, when Juan Encarnacion tied things up with a solo shot off of Mariano Rivera. Neither team scored for the next sixth innings.  Encarnacion then hit his second solo shot of the game in the top of the 16th.  But with two out in the bottom half, Jeff Conine tied it back up with a homer of his own. Adrian Beltre's double in the bottom of the 18th off of Brad Radke finally won the game and tied the series at two wins apiece. Sixteen pitchers and 45 players overall struggled through this classic marathon duel. Definitely a Game for the Ages.

Game 5:  Pittsford Plague 4  -  Albany Capitals 2

The Caps called on their ace Kevin Millwood to regain the advantage, while the Plague countered with lefty Odalis Perez. Perez lasted into the 9th, surrendering two solo homers to Mench and Kendall but was otherwise in control, walking no one.  Millwood gave up a pair of homers as well, to Batista and Palmeiro.  The difference was that the Plague had a man on in each case.  Pittsford was one game away from defending its crown.

Game 5:  Pittsford Plague 7  -  Albany Capitals 4

The Plague fell behind early, as they seemed to have been doing thoughtout the post-season.  But after giving up three runs in the 1st, Greg Maddux settled down and shut down the Caps through the 7th inning.  Meanwhile, all the Plague could muster was a solo shot by Derek Jeter in the 3rd, one of his four hits on the day. The roof fell in on lefty relievers Casey Fossum and Carlos Hernandez when the Plague scored 5 times in the 8th inning (sounds prophetic, doesn't it?). The feature was Ellis Burks' 3-run homer, his fourth of this series. Each team scored one more time before Rivera came in to shut the door, and the Plague emerged with their 3rd E.S.L. title in four years, something no other franchise has accomplished in league history.  Ellis Burks was named the MVP, but what set this series apart were the heroics of the lesser lights in each team's lineup.

 

FOR A SUMMARY OF THE 2002 POST-SEASON CLICK HERE.

 

2003 Bob Kidera. All rights reserved.                                                                Page design by B a s i c T e m p l a t e s . c o m.