SAN JOSE - The San Jose Giants won the North Division championship with a 9-5 Game Five victory over the Visalia Rawhide on Wednesday evening at Municipal Stadium. San Jose scored in each of the first six innings and never trailed to take the decisive game of the best-of-five North Division Series.
The Giants will play the South Division champion Inland Empire 66ers in the California League Championship Series. The best-of-five match-up begins Thursday night in San Bernardino.
On Wednesday, Devin Harris (3-for-5, 2B, HR, RBI) and Ricky Oropesa (2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI) both homered to lead a 15-hit San Jose offensive attack. Six Giants players recorded multi-hit games at the plate with Matt Duffy (2-for-4, 2 RBI), Mac Williamson (2-for-4), Trevor Brown (2-for-5, 2B, RBI) and Myles Schroder (2-for-4, 2 2B) also producing two hits apiece.
Kelvin Marte picked-up the win with a stellar effort in long relief. The left-hander worked 4 1/3 innings with just one run and four hits allowed. Marte walked none and struck out two.
The Giants scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning to take the early lead. With one out, Duffy singled before Oropesa stepped to the plate with two outs and crushed a two-run homer to deep right center. The home run was Oropesa's fourth of the postseason.
Pat Young started on the mound for San Jose and notched a pair of strikeouts to work through a scoreless top of the first. Visalia though pushed across a run in the top of the second cutting the lead to 2-1 as Tom Belza led off with a double and eventually scored on Ronnie Freeman's one-out single. However with runners on first and third and one out, Young registered a strikeout of Evan Marzilli and induced Kevin Medrano to groundout to end the inning and keep the Giants ahead.
San Jose came back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second as Schroder reached on a one-out error to start the rally. Then with two down, Elliott Blair and Jesus Galindo were both hit by a pitch to load the bases bringing Duffy to the plate, who lined a single into center field to score two runs for a 4-1 advantage.
The see-saw battle continued through the third inning as both teams scored two runs in the frame. In the top half, two singles and an error loaded the bases with two outs against Young. Ryan Stovall then a lined a single up the middle to score two runs bringing the Rawhide to within 4-3.
In the bottom half, three straight singles from Oropesa, Brown and Harris loaded the bases with none out and knocked Visalia starter Brandon Sinnery out of the game. Conrad Flynn was summoned from the bullpen and he promptly struck out Schroder, but Arnold then blooped a single down the right field line to score Oropesa with the first run of the inning. Blair followed with an RBI groundout as Brown came home to make it 6-3.
Young returned to the mound in the top of the fourth for the Giants, but ran into more trouble as Medrano singled with one out before back-to-back two-out singles from Jake Lamb and David Peralta produced a run to trim the lead to 6-4. But with the potential tying runs on base, Marte was brought in from the bullpen and he retired the next batter, Belza, on a groundout to second to end the inning.
San Jose then increased their lead to 9-4 with single runs in the bottom of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. In the fourth, Brown delivered a two-out RBI double. The following inning, Schroder led off with a double and scored two batters later when Blair came through with a one-out RBI single. Then in the sixth, Harris smacked a home run down the left field line for the Giants' final tally of the night.
Meanwhile, Marte cruised through the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Sean Jamieson led off the top of the fifth with a single, but Marte induced the next batter, Stovall, to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. Evan Marzilli then led off the sixth with a single, but Marte quickly set down the next three batters before tossing a perfect top of the seventh.
Marte had retired eight straight hitters until Marzilli tripled with two outs in the top of the eighth. Medrano followed with a single to plate Marzilli bringing Visalia to within 9-5, but Gerson Montilla then flied out to center to end the inning.
Derek Law (1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO) closed the game out for San Jose with a scoreless top of the ninth inning. Lamb led off with a single before Belza's one-out double put runners on second and third. However with the potential tying run in the on-deck circle, Law recorded back-to-back strikeouts of Jamieson and Stovall to end the game.
Sinnery took the loss for the Rawhide after he was charged with six runs (four earned) on six hits over two-plus innings. He walked none and struck out three.
Notes: The Giants win the best-of-five North Division Series three-games-to-two … It marks San Jose's first North Division championship since 2010 … Both teams finished the game with 15 hits … Eight out of the nine Giants starters recorded at least one hit … Oropesa has homered in four straight games … All four home runs have come in his first at-bat … Young allowed four runs (two earned) on nine hits over the first 3 2/3 innings for San Jose … He walked one and struck out seven … Giants pitching combined for 11 strikeouts and just one walk in the contest … Brown led the team with a .474 batting average (9-for-19) during the series … San Jose has now reached the Championship Series five times over the last nine years.
On Deck: The Giants travel to San Bernardino to open the best-of-five California League Championship Series against the Inland Empire 66ers on Thursday evening. First pitch at San Manuel Stadium is scheduled for 7:05 PM. Ty Blach (12-4, 2.90 ERA) is slated to start on the mound for San Jose while Inland Empire is expected to counter Orangel Arenas (8-8, 5.14 ERA). The game can be heard live on sjgiants.com with coverage beginning at 6:35 PM.