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The History File: The 1991 Giants
02/11/2011 12:00 PM ET

The 1991 Giants: The Road to Success

By Dave Buns of the Clinton Herald (From the 1992 Game Program)

A late season surge by the 1991 Clinton Giants lifted the team to its first Midwest League play-off berth and took the Clinton Baseball Club to its first Midwest League title since 1963.

After finishing a close third in the league's first half, the Giants got off to a slow start and then played catch-up throughout the second half, finally winning the second half championship by winning seven of their last eight games.

Clinton still trailed by four games on Aug. 21 and wasn't able to cut its deficit to a single game until Aug. 30 with an 8-2 victory over the Peoria Chiefs that saw Eric Christopherson drive in four runs.

The next night saw the Giants pull even with Waterloo for first place as Dan Carlson pitched seven innings of three-hit ball in an 8-3 victory over the Chiefs. Tim Casper powered the offense with two runs batted in.

That set up a pivotal weekend series in Waterloo, which the Giants swept by scores of 7-2 and 8-2 for a two-game lead over the Diamonds with two games left in the season.

That clinched a playoff spot for Clinton, which held a 7-1 lead over Waterloo in head-to-head play.

With a playoff spot in hand, the Giants finished the season with a two-game set against Burlington. Clinton capped its season-long seven-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory over the Astros. Greg Brummett boosted his record to 10-6 with nine strong innings. While the Giants regulars rested, Burlington defeated Clinton 5-3 in the season finale.

With one victory streak snapped, Clinton started another by coming from behind to beat Burlington 7-6 at Riverview Stadium in the Southern Division championship series opener.

Clinton started its first inning with four runs, taking advantage of a collection of walks, Burlington errors and a two-run single by Matt Brewer who, along with Rock Island native Ray Jackson, joined the Giants in time for the post-season.

Former Iowa Hawkeye Chris Hatcher's solo homer got the Astros on the board in the second inning and posted two more runs in the third. Clinton's Rikkert Faneyte answered with a leadoff shot in the third that boosted Clinton's advantage to 5-3.

That lead lasted until the fourth inning when Roberto Petagine hit the first of his two home runs and Lane Smith doubled and eventually scored on a wild pitch.

Ricky Ward's bases-loaded single put Clinton back in front in the seventh inning, but Petagine's round-tripper tied the score once more in the eighth.

Barry Miller's leadoff single in the ninth got the capacity crowd on its feet. Jackson came in as a pinch runner and scored on Christopherson's single down the first base line.

Another Clinton rally netted a 5-2 victory in game two of the three-game series at Burlington. The Astros scored single runs in the first and fourth innings.

The Giants got one run back on Pepe Frias' RBI double in the fifth. Christopherson hit a two-run homer in the sixth. Two insurance runs came in the seventh as Frias hit his first homer of the season, Jackson tripled and Ward singled him home.

Rain delayed the Midwest League Championship Series opener, finally played Sept. 10 at Riverview Stadium.

Jackson drove in two runs and Ward and Brewer one apiece for Clinton, which led 5-0 after five innings. Brewer and Jackson had three hits apiece to lead an 11-hit attack.

Madison made the game interesting with a three-run sixth inning.

The Giants' final game of the season in their home park was a 2-1 victory in game two. Salomon Torres, the League MVP, pitched 8 1/3 innings for the victory and Mark Yockey finished for the save.

Clinton's first run came in the second as Fanyete scored from second on an infield roller by Matt Davis.

In the fourth, after a delay caused a power outage, Miller reached on a dropped third strike and scored when Adam Hyzdu tripled of the right centerfield fence.

The series concluded at Madison with a 4-0 victory by the Giants.

Clinton scored the only run it would need on a walk in the second inning then put together a three-run ninth. Ward singled in one run and Hyzdu came up with a two-run double.

"It feels great," Hyzdo said of the Giants' league championship. "We had great pitching all year long and we had our longest winning streak right before the playoffs. We just continued our good play into the playoffs."

Manager Jack Mull said, "This is great. As I said after we won the second half, nothing these guys do anymore would surprise me. There wasn't much expected out of us coming out of spring training. It's just the way the team molded together. We were able to keep the same guys together most of the season and they slowly molded together. It was just a total team effort."

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