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
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.
Finals: Pittsford Plague over the Albany Capitals
games to 2.
Game 1: Albany Capitals 7 - Pittsford
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
Game 2: Albany Capitals 5 - Pittsford
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
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
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.
A SUMMARY OF THE 2002 POST-SEASON CLICK HERE.