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NorCal puts SoCal on the brink of elimination in APBA I-5 Series

Gerrit Cole
(Patrick Smith / Getty Images)

In a series many thought would be evenly matched, the Northern California All-Stars find themselves one win away from victory after they defeated Southern California, 7-6, in Game 4 on Friday at Angel Stadium.

It looked like SoCal was going to even the series when it took a 6-4 lead into the seventh. Stephen Strasburg had pitched six solid innings, and the SoCal bullpen was set up perfectly: Gerrit Cole in the seventh, Trevor Hoffman in the eighth and Rollie Fingers in the ninth. Except that someone forgot to tell NorCal it was supposed to go down quietly.

The I-5 Series is played on the APBA game engine. The 34-man rosters were chosen by fans via latimes.com/sports and sfchronicle.com/sports. More than 100,000 votes were cast. The NorCal team is managed by Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle and the SoCal team by Houston Mitchell of The Times.

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I-5 Series Game Four

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Cole gave up a single to Willie McGee to begin the seventh. Jimmy Rollins followed with an infield single. Rickey Henderson tripled, and before SoCal could get anyone else ready to pitch, the score was 6-6. Hoffman entered as Cole, an Orange County product, left the game. Joe DiMaggio hit a sacrifice fly to provide what proved to be the winning run. Dennis Eckersley pitched a clean ninth for the save.

All looked good for SoCal after the first inning. Fred Lynn led off with a single off Dave Stewart and took third on George Brett’s double. Ted Williams lined to first baseman Willie Stargell, who doubled Brett off second. Mark McGwire homered, giving SoCal a 2-0 lead. But Brett getting doubled off cost SoCal a run, and that proved to be crucial.

Barry Bonds cut the deficit in half in the second inning, homering off of Strasburg. It was Bonds’ fifth homer of the series.

“Bonds looks much bigger to me than in years past,” SoCal manager Houston Mitchell said after the game. Then he turned around, saw McGwire, and didn’t say another word.

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McGwire hit a two-run homer in the third, his second of the game, to give SoCal a 4-1 lead.

Game 5 will be played at Petco Park on Saturday. Games 6 and 7, if needed, would be played at the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday and at Oracle Park on Monday.


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