ADELANTO, Calif. (Press release) - The San Jose Giants clinched their California League record sixth consecutive first half North Division title with a 15-11 victory over the High Desert Mavericks on Tuesday evening at Stater Bros. Stadium. Brandon Belt homered twice and collected six RBI's to lead a 22-hit offensive attack for the Giants. By virtue of winning the first half crown, San Jose (42-24) secures a berth in the playoffs and will receive a first round bye.
Every Giants starter recorded at least one hit in the contest with Belt (4-for-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI) leading the charge. Juan Perez (3-for-5, RBI), Ehire Adrianza (3-for-6, SB), Charlie Culberson (3-for-5, 2B, RBI), Johnny Monell (3-for-6, 2B, RBI) and Joel Weeks (3-for-4, 2B, RBI) also contributed three hits apiece. San Jose overcame six High Desert home runs to earn the division-clinching win.
The Giants scored three times in the top of the sixth inning against High Desert reliever Blake Nation to take the lead for good. With the score tied 8-8, Belt began the sixth-inning rally by drawing a one-out walk. After Culberson singled, Monell singled sharply into left field to plate Belt with the go-ahead run. Wendell Fairley followed with an RBI single of his own before Jose Flores bounced a single into right field scoring Monell to make it 11-8.
San Jose picked-up four key insurance runs in the top of the ninth as Weeks drew a one-out walk before consecutive singles from Perez and Adrianza loaded the bases. On Adrianza's hit, Mavericks right fielder Johermyn Chavez threw wildly toward home plate for an error allowing Weeks to score the first run of the frame. Then with two outs, Belt crushed a three-run homer - his second round-tripper of the contest - to deep center field for a 15-8 Giants advantage.
High Desert hit a pair of home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning against San Jose reliever Jason Stoffel, but still fell short. Dennis Raben smacked a two-run homer with none out to make it 15-10 before Denny Almonte clubbed a two-out solo homer to bring the Mavericks to within four. Stoffel though settled down to retire the next hitter, Jake Shaffer, on a groundout to shortstop ending the game and sparking a wild celebration.
Kyle Woodruff (1-0) was credited with his first victory of the year after tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. Woodruff, who retired the last seven batters that he faced, surrendered two hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Edwin Quirarte (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO) relieved Woodruff to begin the bottom of the eighth and worked a 1-2-3 inning before Stoffel (1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO) pitched the ninth.
The teams combined for 10 runs over the first two innings with the Giants owning a 6-4 lead. An RBI single from Belt followed by an RBI double off the fence in left field from Culberson supplied San Jose's two first-inning runs. High Desert answered in the bottom of the frame as Raben connected for a two-run homer before Chavez's solo shot gave the Mavericks a brief 3-2 lead.
In the top of the second, Francisco Peguero delivered a two-out, two-run triple to the right center field gap pushing San Jose back ahead. Belt followed with a towering two-run homer to center extending the lead to 6-3.
High Desert moved back to within 6-4 when Giants starter Eric Stolp uncorked a two-out wild pitch allowing a run to score.
In the top of the fifth, Weeks ripped an RBI double to deep right field before Perez's sacrifice fly gave San Jose an 8-4 lead. The Mavericks though responded with two more home runs in the bottom of the inning against Stolp. Rich Poythress launched a three-run homer with none out before Almonte's one-out solo home run tied the game 8-8.
Stolp was tagged for a career-high eight runs (all earned) on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. The right-hander walked three and struck out a career-high six. Woodruff relieved Stolp after Almonte's home run and pitched out of the fifth before setting down the Mavericks 1-2-3 in the sixth and seventh innings.
Notes: The Giants have reached the playoffs in seven straight seasons (2004-2010) ... San Jose's win combined with Modesto's 2-0 loss at Visalia earlier Tuesday evening clinched the division for the Giants ... Prior to San Jose's current run, the previous California League record for consecutive first half division titles was three (Visalia) ... San Jose has won sixth straight first half crowns under four different managers (Lenn Sakata 2005-07, Steve Decker 2008, Andy Skeels 2009, Brian Harper 2010) ... The 15 runs and 22 hits were both second-highest totals in a single game this year for the Giants (21 runs and 26 hits on May 13 at Visalia) ... Belt is hitting .520 (13-for-25) with three homers and nine RBI's during his current seven-game hit streak ... He raised his season batting average to a league-best .394 ... San Jose has won five games in a row ... The Giants will open the postseason on Saturday, September 11 at Municipal Stadium with Game One of the best-of-five North Division Series ... San Jose will also host Game Two on Sunday, September 12.