Acorns Nip Solons, Wrest Loop Crown
It's been a long wait - 12 years - but today the Oaks have the Coast League pennant.
In one of the tightest races in history, the Acorns defeated Sacramento, 10 to 8, before a full house at Emeryville yesterday to win the 1948 Coast League championship.
But the "nine old men" came through in the clutch, just as they have been doing all season long.
That victory ended the race. The Oaks were in, with a two-game lead over the second-place Seals and only one game remaining to be played.
Casey Stengel and Team Celebrate
While Manager Casey Stengel and the regulars staged an impromptu celebration in the clubhouse, the rookies then went out and, with John Conant, fresh from Bremerton pitching, won the nightcap, 6 to 5.
There was no such thing as backing into this pennant. The Seals, who took both ends of a double-header from Seattle, wouldn't allow that. The Oaks had to win it the hard way.
Casey tossed four pitchers -- Earl Jones, Floyd Speer, Ralph Buxton and Jim Tobin -- into that crucial game, and the issue wasn't settled until the Acorns scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning.
Prior to that the lead had changed no less than seven times.|
The Solons scored in the first inning on singles by Lenny Ratto and Alex Kampouris and Joe Marty's fly to center.
Play at Plate Brings Groan
The Oaks tied it up in the second when Brooks Holder scored on Jones' blow to right, and the crown groaned when Dario Lodigiani, trying to score from first on the same play, was out at the plate.
A home run by Jim Warner, his third of the year, put to Sacs out in front again in the bottom of the inning.
Then came a four-run rally in which the Acorns took a 5 to 2 lead. This was in the top of the third. Merrill Combs singled, Cookie Lavagetto doubled and both men scored on Nick Etten's line double against the right center field fence. The big fellow drove home three runs during the afternoon to boost his RBI total to 156, highest of any Oakland player since the days of Buzz Arlett and the 1927 championship.
Nick might have won the league RBI crown had he wanted to play, to the finale, but decided it wasn't worth it.
"We won the pennant," he said. "That's all that counts."
Lombardi Rookie of the Year
With Etten on second, Les Scarsella was hit by a pitched ball. Brooks Holder was safe, loading the bases, on Ratto's error, and Nick tallied on Lodigiani's fly to right. Ernie Lombardi, who was a rookie of the 1927 Oaks and rejoined the club this season after 17 years in the majors, drilled a single through the middle to tally Scarsella.
Lom's blow drove Marv Grissom, the Sac starter, to the showers and brought Edgar Smith to the hill. He not only ended the rally but smashed a home run over the left field fence the very first time he came to bat, making the count 5 to 3 and starting Jones on his way.
Speer came to the rescue, and had to be relieved himself two innings later when Marty smashed a
home run û the third of the day for the Solons and his 24th of the year û into Park Avenue. Two
men were on board and with another run, the Sacs were leading, 7 to 6.|
Loyd Christopher had added the sixth Acorn tally in the top of the fifth with a home run, his 14th.
The Oaks took the lead again in the sixth when Combs singled, Lavagetto doubled for one tally and Metkovich sacrificed Cookie to third. When Etten Walked, Smith was derricked in favor of Ken Holcomb. Scarsella walked to load the bases, and Lavagetto scored on Mel Duezabou's blow to the pitcher.
It was 8 to 8, however, after the Sacs came to bat, Warner scoring on Holcomb's fly to left field.
With one out in the seventh, Pitcher Ralph Buxton, the game winner, singled. Combs did likewise. Billy Martin skied out, but Metkovich got a basehit to shortstop and Buxton scored on the play. Etten singled Combs home - and that was the ball game and the pennant.
The Acorns had to win to grab the gonfalon, and they did.
Ol' Case Happy, Relaxed
Ol' Case, his nerves taut and snapping all week long, was relaxed and happy today.
"It was the players woh (sic) did it," he said. "The best bunch of players in the league."
More than honor goes with the bunting. The players are sure of a minimum of $20,000 from the playoff purse, and if they should win the Governor's Cup they'll have a pot of $30,000 to divide.
The pennant winning Oaks open the playoffs Wednesday night, meeting Los Angeles in Emeryville.