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Bees declared Midwest League champs

Heavy rains force cancellation of final three games of series
September 13, 2008
It was an anticlimactic ending to a perfect postseason run for the Burlington Bees, but no one can say they didn't deserve the Midwest League title.

Although they were declared champions Saturday by league president George Spelius after Game 3 of the best-of-5 Championship Series with South Bend was rained out for the second straight day, the Bees went 6-0 in the playoffs and outscored the Silver Hawks, 18-0, in the first two games of the Finals.

"We played real well the first two games and wanted to finish it on the field," said Burlington manager Brian Rupp. "But Mother Nature got in the way."

Burlington, which captured its first championship since 1999, swept through Kane County and Cedar Rapids in the first two rounds before thoroughly dominating South Bend.

Danny Gutierrez struck out 11 over six brilliant innings and Mike Moustakas launched a three-run homer as the Bees cruised to a 6-0 triumph in Wednesday's opener.

On Thursday, Johnny Giavotella went 3-for-4 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs scored to pace a 16-hit attack and Alex Caldera and three relievers combined on a four-hitter as Burlington posted a 12-0 blanking of the Silver Hawks.

Game 3 originally was scheduled for Friday as the series shifted to South Bend's Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium. But with various instructional and fall leagues approaching and no foreseeable end in sight to the rainfall, the decision was made to cancel the rest of the Finals.

Midwest League bylaws stipulate that in the event of inclement weather, the president may change the title series from five games to three.

Burlington, which ended the regular season by winning 27 of 36 games, traveled back to Community Field on Saturday. Hundreds of fans were there to welcome home the champs, who finished the campaign with a 73-65 mark.

"We don't draw the biggest crowds, but the crowds we get are hardcore," Rupp said. "It was a good win not only for us, but for the community, too."

South Bend, which went 76-63 this season, needed three games to dethrone two-time defending champion West Michigan in the opening round before sweeping past Dayton. But the Bees, who took four of six regular-season meetings from the Silver Hawks, proved too much in the Finals.

"I think the kids just kind of felt it and knew that we had a chance to make a run at this thing and stepped it up a notch," Rupp said. "They had a goal in mind and ended up achieving it in the end."

John Torenli is a contributor to