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Yankees win GCL championship08/31/2007 8:12 PM ET
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
Jesus Montero settled down the Yankees, who captured the Gulf Coast League title Friday with an 8-1 victory over the Dodgers in the decisive third game of the championship series.
Yankees manager Jody Reed cited Montero's second-inning solo homer as the key moment in the key game.
"We fell behind, 1-0, after the first. And, you know, when you're dealing with guys as young as these the tendency is to start pressing," said the first-year skipper and former Major League infielder. "But Montero hit a bomb in the second inning and that loosened everyone up and gave us the momentum. After that, everyone settled down and we really started swinging the sticks."
After Montero's blast tied the game at 1-1, the Yankees scored six times over the next two innings. Wady Rufino lofted a sacrifice fly in the third and Montero followed with an RBI double before Zoilo Almonte came home on a wild pitch.
In the fifth, Abraham Almonte laced a two-run double and Walter Ibarra followed with an RBI single. Ibarra, a 19-year-old right fielder, hit .571 during the series.
The outburst allowed starter Tim Dennehy (1-0) to work with the lead for much of the game. The 20-year-old southpaw limited the Dodgers to one run on five hits and a walk while striking out three.
"My approach today was just to force contact and let the defense make the plays behind me, just like they've been doing all year," said Dennehy, a 2006 26th-round draft pick. "This being the playoffs, there was more adrenaline than usual. I wanted to win this game not only for myself but for my teammates. We worked so hard to get here and I didn't want to let anyone down."
According to Reed, the entire ballclub displayed an intense desire to win throughout the playoffs.
"The atmosphere in the dugout was a lot rowdier than usual," he said. "In this league, the focus is on development rather than winning, all throughout the regular season. My guys worked hard all year and gave it all they had, so we had to focus on winning the playoffs as a reward for that. They deserved it.
"Winning the championship was a great ending to the season, no doubt. But what really made this season, for me, is seeing where these players are now versus where they were when we started. That's my biggest reward. They played the game right, and we all took a huge step forward."
Wilkins De La Rosa came on for Dennehy and hurled two scoreless innings before Josue Selenes shut down the Dodgers in the ninth.
Michael Watt (0-1) took the loss, surrendering four runs on three hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings. Dan Danielson allowed three runs over 2 1/3 frames.
The Dodgers got on the board in the first. Joseph Becker led off the game with a double, advanced on Curt Bradley's sacrifice and scored on Alfredo Silverio's single. The club mustered only four hits the rest of the way.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.