Monday, July 29, 2013

Giants Make Playoffs in Inaugural Season

by John Vittas

The Gaithersburg Giants qualified for the Ripken League postseason, winning their final four games and posting a final record of 26-18.

"18 losses sounds like a lot," head coach Jeff Rabberman said. "But my goal for the season was to make the playoffs and that's something that we did in our first year in the league. There's a lot to be proud of."

Manager Jeff Rabberman

Josh Ingham finished the season as the leading hitter for the Giants, with his .339 average ranking third best in the league.

Ingham raised his batting average over one hundred points in July

Texas left fielder Collin Shaw played in 43 of the team's 44 games and finished top 20 in the league in hitting. He also finished seventh or higher in hits, runs, stolen bases, at bats and walks. 

Shaw reached base at a .388 clip

The Giants were led by their pitching staff, which ranked best in the league in ERA. The staff included two of the top 8 pitchers in the league. Catholic University starter Robin Mowatt (1.00) ranked fourth in pitching, and did not allow more than one earned run in any of his eleven outings, which included six starts.

RHP Robin Mowatt

"I've been commanding all my pitches really well, throwing a little bit harder," Mowatt said after his final start. "It was a great summer following a pretty good spring so I'm happy."

Central Connecticut State southpaw Jesse Frawley finished eighth, posting an earned run average of 2.14.

LHP Jesse Frawley

"I got a lot of hitters out in front this season," Frawley said. "I got a lot of ground balls with my sinker and was able to showcase my slider and it all worked well together."

The bullpen was led by Nick Riley, who allowed only five earned runs in 28 and two-thirds innings (1.57), earning a WHIP of 0.82. Ingham also pitched out of the pen and did not allow a run in nearly 15 innings of work.

Riley did not allow an earned run over his first 15 innings of the season

But the one statistic the Giants dominated all season long was stolen bases. Coppin State CF Chris Kashangaki led the league with 27 swipes, while Shaw finished his runner-up with 19. Jay Knight stole 14 and Kevin Baron took 11, as 4 of the top 10 base stealers in the league played for Gaithersburg.

Kashangaki finished top-10 in the NCAA in stolen bases this spring

Gaithersburg excelled in one-run games, going 9-2 in such contests. They also picked up ground in doubleheaders, going 12-3 in seven inning games.

"We have a short attention span," Rabberman joked about the seven-inning success. "The key is starting fast. When we're ahead we're pretty tough to beat."

The 1-run wins included four walk-off victories

Their inaugural season was also characterized by streaky play. They had a pair of 4-game win streaks and two 3-game losing streaks. However, the defining stretch of the season came from June 27-July 1, when the Giants won seven consecutive games, putting them in postseason position for good.

"We've come a long way as an organization," GM Alfie Riley said. "Finishing the regular season with 26 wins is a tremendous accomplishment and I couldn't be more proud of Jeff Rabberman, the coaching staff, and the players for their hard work, dedication and respect for the game. They have represented Gaithersburg well."

General Manager Alfie Riley spearheaded the efforts to get the Giants into the Ripken League

Gaithersburg will begin the playoffs at home against the Baltimore Redbirds, with first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m. at Criswell Automotive Field. 

The teams will be re-seeded after the opening round and the final four teams will play a double elimination tournament for the title.

Photos by Jim Colgain

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