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Giants stand tall in Arizona League
09/01/2008 1:19 AM ET
Many of Dave Machemer's players hadn't been born the last time he won a league championship. A victory on Sunday, however, made everyone feel young again.

C.J. Ziegler's go-ahead homer backed eight strong innings from Javier Hernandez on Sunday as the Giants beat the Angels, 4-2, to win the Arizona League Championship Game at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

"I got dunked with Gatorades and it felt good, it was fun," said Machemer. "We all hoisted glasses of Pepsi -- these kids are too young to drink."

Machemer, whose last championship came in 1986 with Class A Advanced Stockton, felt the excitement of his youngsters, soft drink in hand.

"It was satisfying and refreshing to come in and manage this team," said Machemer, a former Major Leaguer who spent the previous three seasons managing in Double-A. "They're all eager to play pro ball, their eyes are wide open. It's very satisfying to see kids coming into their own and start to blossom."

It's the second AZL title in four years for the Giants, who claimed the 2005 crown by winning both halves of the season.

"I just feel great about the way this year went," Machemer said. "I couldn't be be happier."

Ziegler, a 16th-round pick by San Francisco in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, led off the fourth with a homer to center field off Angels starter Manuel Flores to give the Giants a 2-0 lead. Jose Medina tripled home Brooks Lindsley to make it 3-0.

The Giants had taken an early lead in the second, when Lindsley's sacrifice fly scored Josh Mazzola. Lindsley came home on a wild pitch in the ninth to provide some insurance.

"To meld together as a team the way we did, it was a beautiful thing," Machemer said. "They played as one and as a team, they rooted for each other. There was no big leaguing anyone else, it was great."

Machemer, the owner of more than 1,000 managerial wins, came to the Arizona League after spending three years at the helm of the Giants' Eastern League affiliate in Connecticut. He's spent time at nearly every level and said the kids in Rookie ball hold a certain charm.

"I just like to be a part of it," he explained. "I love the game."

Ziegler led the AZL with 43 RBIs and went 10-for-22 (.455) with a pair of homers and 10 RBIs in seven games against the Angels. He felt right at home with the Giants. The Tucson native attended the University of Arizona and hit .262 with seven homers in 53 games in his professional debut.

"He did a great job this year. He's got big upside and lots of power," Machemer said. "He comes to work every day, he's hard-working and a great teammate. He comes to play hard every day."

Ziegler entered the one-game showdown in an 0-for-11 slump after homering in consecutive contests on Aug. 23-24.

Hernandez (1-0) was dominant, striking out five and holding the Angels to one run on five hits in his longest outing of the season. Chris Wilson gave up a run in the ninth before recording the save.

"Javier, he was fantastic tonight," Machemer said. "He was huge, huge tonight. He's been pitching so good in August, and once again he just showed up tonight, got his curve working. He was changing speeds, kept his fastball down in the zone and he had good movement."

Hernandez was 5-1 with a 4.06 ERA in 11 regular-season starts. The Venezuelan right-hander went 7-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 2007 in the Dominican Summer League.

Buster Posey, the fifth overall pick in June, went 0-for-3 with a walk after hitting .385 with a homer and four RBIs in 26 regular-season at-bats.

The Giants finished finished second during the season at 36-20. They got hot in the final month, winning eight in a row from Aug. 4-13 and five straight from Aug. 18-23.

"They knew what they had to do went out and did it," said Machemer. "It's a one-game thing, and that's the thing about this league. I tip my hat to the Angels. [Angels manager Tyrone] Boykin was playing in the Texas League when I was still managing there, so it made me feel a little old. But he did a fantastic job this year."

The Angels, who were a league-best 39-17, tacked on a run in the ninth but left runners at first and second. Adam Younger doubled home Terrell Alliman with one out, but Wilson struck out Raddy Sierra and got a game-ending grounder from Kevin Ramos.

Alliman led off the fourth with a double and scored the Angels' first run on Michael Wing's groundout.

Flores (0-1) allowed three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits over four innings to suffer the loss. The Venezuelan southpaw was 7-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 13 outings in his second season in the AZL.

The Angels won the first-half title by going 21-7 and entered the title game with six straight wins. They last appeared in the championship in 2006, when they fell to the Padres.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.