Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Capitals win the pennant. The Caps needed a strong finish to close out the North American League’s inaugural regular season and ended up winning four of their last five games against their nemesis, the Calgary Vipers, including a sweep in Sunday’ season-ending double-header to clinch first place. Fan Appreciation Day presented by Canadian Tire turned out to be a perfect afternoon for the Caps and their fans with 6-4 and 8-5 pennant-clinching wins.
Edmonton’s 2011 record will go into the books at 56-32, giving them three more wins than Calgary and most importantly the highest winning percentage in the North at .636%. The 88th and deciding game came down to a tie game through six innings and a thrilling finish in front of another great crowd. Close to 15,000 fans attended the final series of the regular season as playoff excitement builds in Edmonton.
The Caps jumped out to an early 5-2 lead in game two with all five of those runs coming in the second inning. Brent Metheny started things off with a lead-off home run. Rex Rundgren cashed in J.D. Closser with an RBI single. Starting pitcher Rory Shortell helped his own cause with a base hit in the rally and scored later on a wild pitch. Matt Rogelstad’s double then cashed in a pair of runs to give Edmonton a comfortable lead.
Calgary chipped away, eventually tying the game at five in the top of the fifth, setting up the dramatic finish. The Caps closed the deal with a series of clutch hits and controversial plays. Rundgren led off the inning with a double, allowing Orv Franchuk to place North Division Championship Series Game 1 starter Lou Pote into the game in a pinch-hitting situation. Pote squared off to bunt, only to be struck by Vipers reliever Matt Hammonds. Later, the Caps hurler was thrown out sliding into home plate on yet another controversial call, only adding more fuel to the fire as the Battle of Alberta heats up just in time for the post-season. Caps catcher J.D. Closser delivered the final blow with a bases-loaded RBI single, scoring a pair of runs to gave Edmonton an 8-5 lead they would not relinquish.
The first half of the double-header was a tight affair with the teams matching each other in the early stages. Todd Linden was 3-for-3 at the plate for the Caps, including a critical RBI double that put the home team ahead 6-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Vipers committed two key errors in the sixth, which resulted in two unearned runs for Edmonton. Caps starter Daryl Arreola earned his sixth win of the season with his six innings of work, and Canadian reliever Tom Boleska earned his team-leading 10th save of the season.
The upcoming North Division Championship series between the Caps and Vipers is now set. With the pennant win, Edmonton earns the right to host Game 7 if the series goes the distance. The first two games of the series will be hosted in Edmonton Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. Game 1 will be another $2 Tuesday presented by CISN FM with a wide variety of concession items available for just $2. That will be followed by by another Wiener Wednesday presented by K97 in Game 3, with Capital dogs available for just $2.
Playoff tickets start at just $10 in advance and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, at the Capitals Box Office (10233 – 96 Ave) during regular business hours Monday through Friday, online at capsbaseball.ca or via phone at 780-414-GOAL (4625).