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Clippers win Triple-A championship09/22/2010 12:15 AM ET
By Bob Hersom / Special to MLB.com
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The International League champion Columbus Clippers ended the Minor League season by cruising to another easy postseason win.
Jerad Head went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs to lead a 19-hit attack Tuesday as Columbus whipped the Tacoma Rainiers, 12-6, in the Triple-A National Championship Game.
The lopsided victory was nothing new for the Clippers, who outscored their opponents, 71-30, in nine postseason games. They became the second straight IL representative to win the Triple-A title after the Pacific Coast League took the first three games.
"I think the key in the playoffs is to get hot at the right time," said Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh, who guided Double-A Akron to the Eastern League championship last year.
Sarbaugh had little to sweat after Columbus built a 12-3 lead through five innings.
"They all are special, but I guess to have 'National Champions' by your team's name, there's not many of those around, so you have to sit back and savor it," he said. "It's a special time in these guys' lives.'
The Rainiers had to play their final 13 games on the road due to renovations at Cheney Stadium. They won eight, including three in a row to sweep to their first PCL championship since 2001.
Every Clipper, except Wes Hodges, had at least two hits. Head led the way with a pair of doubles and was named MVP after batting .485 with 15 RBIs in nine postseason games.
"It seemed like all series that everybody on the team had a big hit," Head said. "Everybody came up with a big hit tonight and the pitching was great again, too."
"Jared Head was huge for us," Sarbaugh added.
Jason Kipnis, who had not played above Double-A until joining the Clippers for the IL Championship Series, also was 3-for-4 and scored three times. He fell a single shy of a second straight the cycle after completing the rare feat in Columbus' clinching victory over Durham on Friday.
In five playoff games, the former second-round Draft pick was 10-for-22 with nine runs scored.
"What a week, what a week," Kipnis said. "I couldn't be happier about how the week's gone for me and the team. ... They have been just unbelievable in taking me in and making me feel comfortable right away. ... They make it easy to hit in this lineup. You're up every other inning, basically."
Josh Rodriquez also collected three hits, while Ezequiel Carrera drove in three runs.
David Winfree went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer for Tacoma.
Kipnis' leadoff homer sparked the Clippers' three-run second, but the Rainiers answered with three in the third, tying the game on Winfree's third postseason blast.
Columbus strung together five hits to grab the lead for good in the fourth. Kipnis doubled and scored on a base hit by Head, who took third on a double by Luke Carlin and raced home on a wild pitch by Tacoma starter Ryan Feierabend (0-1).
Jose Constanza chased Feierabend with a run-scoring single and Carrera greeted Major League veteran Ian Snell with another RBI base hit.
The Clippers increased the lead to 12-3 by scoring five times in the fifth as Head and Carrera delivered two-run doubles.
Mike Wilson stroked an RBI single in the sixth and Tug Hulett, who used to play for the Oklahoma City RedHawks, capped the scoring with a two-run double.
David Huff (1-0) got the win, despite allowing all six runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings. He struck out six.
Feierabend picked runners off first base in each of the first three innings. But the left-hander, who had a 1.12 ERA in the PCL playoffs, was tagged for seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
NOTES: Clippers leadoff batter Jose Constanza, the only Postseason All-Star on either roster, ended the year with a 33-game on-base streak. ... Tuesday's game matched two teams that had struggled in the final weeks of the regular season. Columbus lost 24 of its final 37 games, while Tacoma dropped 25 of 40. ... Attendance was 7,525 for the fifth Triple-A National Championship Game at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. A total of 46,211 have watched the five games, an average of 9,242. The top crowd was 12,572 in the inaugural game in 2006.