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Sunsets Sweep Series, Trounce Tritons In Game 3

March 17, 2018 (Federal League Wire Service)

              What seemed impossible only a week a go has come to pass as the Sunrise Sunsets routed the Tri-Cities Tritons, 11-3, in Game 3 of the Championship Final Series, completing the sweep and delivering the Twilighters the third title in their history.             
              The loss snapped the Tritons' stranglehold on the league's crown, ending their three season run of dominance.
              Zach Margules, the rookie left hander who went 4-1 during the regular season, started for the 'Sets against the previously invincible Calvin Rayburn for the Tritons. 
              The Tritons were playing without outfielder Zac Miller, who was nursing a strained groin, and all-star catcher and reigning MVP Julian Faria.
              The Twilighters pierced Rayburn's armor in the top of the first. Chris Price lined a two out single to left and galloped all the way to third as the ball was mishandled in the outfield. A wild pitch by Rayburn gave the 'Sets a 1-0 lead.
              The Tritons quickly countered in the bottom of the first. Chris Marrero drew a leadoff walk, but Chris Craig gunned the speedy Marrero down as he attempted to steal second. Rayburn also walk and moved to third on a two single by Mike LaManna. The Water Dwellers executed a delayed double steal that resulted in Rayburn scoring the equalizing run.   
              In the fourth, Craig got aboard with a one out single and then scored on a base hit by Ted Maceda. After a stolen base and a errant throw put him on third, Maceda loped home after a wild pitch, putting the Twilighters in front, 3-1.
              The Sunsets extended the lead to 4-1 in the fifth. Justin Dages singled, stole second and third, and, following the established pattern, scored on a passed ball.
              While Margules was adding zeroes to the scoreboard, Rayburn was holding the Sunsets in check, until the top of the eighth. Price led off with a single and promptly swiped second. Anthony Garcilazo followed with an RBI single. Another wild pitch, a Chris Craig single, and a throwing error gave the Sunsets a 7-1 advantage. 
              Adrian Roznowski connected for a two out solo home run in the bottom of the eighth, but the Sunsets pushed across four big runs in the top of the ninth, building an 11-2 lead. Demetrio Green and Jimmy Schariest had singles in the frame, and Gracilazo drilled a two run, opposite field, home run as an exclamation point.
              Eric Silverberg doubled and scored in the bottom of the ninth, but Margules got Roznowski to bounce into a force play with two runners aboard to nail down the victory and secure the championship for the Sunsets.
              Craig led the 'Sets with four hits. Price had three, and Garcilazo drove in three runs. LaManna's two hits paced the Tritons.  
              Margules went the distance for the win, allowing three runs on eight hits. The lefty walked seven and struck out three. Rayburn was charged with four earned runs on 12 his in eight and a third innings and took the loss. Rayburn walked one and struck out 18 Sunsets. 
              Chris Craig, who went 12-22 with a home run and five RBI, in addition to being a brilliant defensive backstop, was unanimously chosen the the Playoff MVP by the editors of South Florida Baseball Report.
              While the Tritons left the ballpark pondering what might have been, the Cinderella Sunsets celebrated an improbable dream that came true, in, what might be, the greatest upset in Championship Final Series history.   
              Game 2 Recap-Sunsets Stagger Tritons, 7-4: After performing a veritable Houdini act to preserve the lead in the 9th inning of the Sunrise Sunsets' Game 1 victory over the Tri-Cities Tritons, Brant Spring pitched out of another precarious ninth inning jam as the Twilighters beat the Water Dwellers, 7-4, in Game 2 of the Championship Final Series.             
              Jason Van Tol started for the 'Sets and pitched brilliantly before faltering in the top of the ninth. Van Tol picked up the win, permitting two earned runs on six hits in eight and two thirds innings. Spring recorded the final out, with the tying run on base, to earn his second save of the series.
              John Hardardt started for the Water Dwellers and was not his usual sharp self. Hardardt was lifted in the fourth, having surrendered six runs on seven hits in three and two thirds innings. 
              In the bottom of the second, Chris Craig connected for a one out double to left and then scored on a double by Brandon Hull.
              In the fourth, the Twilighters exploded for five runs, all coming with two out. Demetrio Green started the rally with a single and went to second when Jimmy Schariest drew a walk. Justin Dages was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Chris Price delivered a two run single. Anthony Garcilazo followed with a long two run double to left center, and Javier Aguilar's single up the middle score Garcilazo and forced Hardardt from the mound.
              The Tritons got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth. Adrian Roznowski drew a leadoff walk and Chris Marrero reached on a two out error. Jay Warman doubled in Roznowski, but Marrero was called out trying to score on the play on a controversial call by home plate umpire Anthony Brown to end the rally and the inning.    
              In the sixth, a pair of Sunset errors allowed the Tritons to crawl to within, 6-2, but in the home half of the frame, the Sunsets pushed across a run against reliever Jose Marcano. Dages drew a leadoff walk, stole second, went to third on a fly out to right, and scored on a wild pitch.
              Trailing 7-2, the Sons of Poseidon attempted to stage another ninth inning rally. Yosier Tejera led off the final frame with a triple and scored on a single by Roznowski. Marcano singled to right, but Van Tol retired the next two batters without incident.
              Warman kept the Tritons alive with a bloop single to center that loaded the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate. 
              At this point, Van Tol was lifted for Spring, but Mike LaManna delivered an RBI single to cut the gap to 7-4.
              Zac Miller stepped to the plate, representing the winning run, but Spring induced Miller to hit a grounder to third. Aguilar fielded the chopper and raced Warman to the bag. Warman beat the force, but overslid the bag, and Aguilar applied the tag to end the contest.
              The Sunsets won, despite not getting a hit after the fourth inning and committing three errors. The Tritons left eight runners on base.  
              The Sunsets lead the best of five series, two games to none and will attempt to complete the upset with a sweep in Game 3, scheduled for Saturday.   
              Game 1 Highlights-Sunsets Stun Tritons, 4-3: In what could comfortably be described as the best game of the season, the Sunrise Sunsets survived a late scare and defeated the previously unvanquished Tri-Cities Tritons, 4-3 in the first game of the best of five Championship Final Series.             
              After the Water Dwellers scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to pull to within a run, Brant Spring relieved starter Tommy Tritz with none out and the tying run on third and pitched out of the jam to preserve the win.
              Tritz squared off against Tritons' starter Matt Arlick and both produced nothing but zeroes through three innings, although both teams had opportunities to score. 
              In the top of the first, Jimmy Schariest led off for the Sunsets and drew a walk and stole second. With none out, Justin Dages lifted a long fly to right center that Agner "Management" Martinez hauled in for the first out. chariest, however, neglected to tag up and advance on the play, so he was unable to score on, what would have been, a sacrifice fly to left off of the bat of Chris Price.
              In the bottom of the first, Chris Marrero led off with a singled and swiped second, and Jay Warman walked. Warman took second on Julian Faia's ground out to short, but Marrero stayed put. One batter later, Mike "Man Of" LaManna hit a little roller up the third baseline that Tritz fielded. As Marrero sped toward the plate, Tritz flipped a throw to catcher Chris Craig, who applied the tag to a sliding Marrero for the second out.
              In the top of the fourth, Craig broke the scoreless deadlock when he led off with a home run to left. With two out and a man on first, Demetrio Green homered to almost the exact same spot, giving the Twilighters a 3-0 lead.   
              The score remained unchanged until the bottom of the sixth. Warman led off with a double and then scored on a two out single by Zac Miller to cut the deficit to 3-1.
              The Sunsets added an all important insurance run in the top of the ninth when Schariest drilled a two out single, advanced to second on a passed ball, and scored when the normally sure handed Marrero could not handle Dages' hot smash to second.
              Trailing by three in the bottom of the ninth, with their win streak firmly on the line, Adrian Roznowski led off and was hit by a pitch. Yosier Tejera beat out an infield hit to put runners on first and second with none out. 
              Eric Silverberg laid down a perfect bunt that settled on the third base line. Tritz fielded the ball and threw to first, too late to nab Silverberg. Making matters worse for the Sunsets, Tritz's throw was wide of first, allowing both runners to score and sending Silverberg, carrying the tying run, to second.
              The Tritons sent John Hardardt in to pinch run for Silverberg, and the Sunsets summoned Spring from the bullpen.
              Spring retired Marrero on a tapper in front of the plate on which Craig made a fine play, but Hardardt advanced to third.   
              Warman, who already had two hits, stepped to the plate with the tying run on third and only one out. Spring fired two quick strikes before missing with two breaking pitches. On the 2-2 pitch, Warman drilled a line drive headed for center field, but Spring reached up and snagged the liner for the second out.
              With the tying run still on third, Spring, the former Best Pitcher Award winner faced Faria, the league's reigning MVP.
              Spring, perhaps in the twilight of a brilliant career, fanned Faria for the final out. 
              Tritz, who allowed three runs on 12 hits in eight plus innings got the win. Spring got the final three outs and earned the save. Arlick went the distance for the Tritons and took the loss after permitting three earned runs on nine hits.
              Tritz struck out two, hit one, and walked one. Spring struck out one. Arlick fanned nine and hit one, and walked one.
              Craig's two hits and RBI led the 'Sets. Brandon Hull added two hits. Tejera's three hits paced the Sons of Poseidon.   
              Game 2, which has a lot to live up to after the a brilliant display of baseball in Game 1, is slated for Thursday night.


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