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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Former Cat Hale leads ‘Winders to PCL Championship

    Chip Hale
    Chip Hale

    Chip Hale has done it again.

    Exactly 20 years after leading the Arizona baseball team to its last national championship as a team captain, Hale managed the Tucson Sidewinders to its third Pacific Coast League Championship on Friday.

    Tucson swept the Round Rock Express in the title series, finishing off a 6-1 playoff run with a 6-3 win.

    “”We just battled,”” Hale said in a press release. “”That’s been our theme all season. I think we led the league in come-from-behind victories.””

    The Sidewinders, the Class-AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, not only won their first championship as Arizona’s affiliate but also made it to the playoffs for the first time as part of the Diamondbacks organization, setting a team record for victories.

    Unlike in 1986, when Hale helped lead the same roster of players all year, he may have needed a game program to keep straight all the athletes he finished the year with.

    His starting pitcher and shortstop in the clinching game, Ross Ohlendorf and Alberto Gonzalez, respectively, spent the entire year at Double-A Tennessee before being called up before the playoffs.

    That may have come as little surprise to Hale. Earlier in the year, he said that opposing managers often can’t recognize many players on the opposing teams, as September call-ups in Major League Baseball often do a number on Triple-A lineups.

    The concept held true with Tucson, where a loaded lineup of top prospects Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin and Chris Young was featured for most of the year.

    Drew was the first to be called up, in July, followed shortly by Quentin and eventually by Young. All three are in line to be full-time starters next season.

    “”We played with so many different players this season,”” Hale said. “”I think we won 97 games while promoting guys like Chris Young, Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, Miguel Montero. When those guys go out there and help the big league team win, it feels great. For us, this is the culmination of a very, very long season.””

    Before hanging up their cleats and calling it a summer, Tucson will play the International League champion tomorrow in the Bricktown Showdown at 4 p.m. in Oklahoma City.

    But that’s more of an exhibition. The heavy lifting has been done.

    Hale has accomplished one of the most difficult coaching feats in professional sports: winning a championship with a roster constantly in flux and gutted of its top players before the stretch run.

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