Throughout the United States Amateur Baseball Association (USABA) World Series, the California Giants have been known as the comeback kids.
The Giants from San Jose did it again Tuesday afternoon when they rallied to score seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to defeat the Calgary Dawgs 11-7 and advance to the World Series championship round.
Darin Vieira singled two runs home to put the Giants ahead and Kevin Boucher delivered the knockout blow moments later when he blasted a three-run homer in the tournament's winners bracket final at Governor's Field.
The Giants, now 9-0 in the tournament with three come-from-behind victories, play in the championship round Thursday at 5 p.m. at Governor's Field. They only need to win one of two games to wrap up the World Series title.
Comeback kids? Call them whatever you want, just don't count them out of any ball game.
"We just have a team that battles," Giants coach Del Masters said. "We don't give up. The sixth inning means nothing. The seventh inning means nothing. Until we're down to the last strike and that strike's over, we're going to battle."
The Giants scored six runs in the sixth inning to defeat the Dawgs 9-6 last week in what amounted to the Desert Division championship game. Monday's rematch was a similar story.
Calgary scored three runs in the top of the third inning to take a 3-0 lead. The Giants answered in the bottom half of the inning when Tyler LaTorre slammed a three-run homer to tie the score.
Calgary scored twice in the fifth to regain the lead, thanks to RBI singles from Vince Ircandia and Jim Henderson. The Dawgs added two more runs in the top of the sixth to extend their lead to 7-4 before Vieira came on in relief and got two outs to retire the side.
Chris Biggam and Clay McChesney singled with one out to start off the Giants' sixth-inning rally. Jaemin Caplan followed with a RBI single and another run scored on an error to make it a 7-6 game. Then Vieira bounced a single through the right side to give the Giants an 8-7 lead and Boucher followed with his home run over the left field fence.
Vieira set down Calgary on a ground out and two strikeouts in the top of the seventh to wrap up the win. Vieira, a graduate of Bellarmine Prep in San Jose who has been invited to try out as a walk-on at the University of Southern California in the coming year, reached base in each of his four plate appearances and also played solid defense at shortstop for five-plus innings to earn the Game MVP award.
Coming from behind to beat the Dawgs once, let alone twice, is an accomplishment.
"That's pretty impressive baseball right there to come back against a team like that," Masters said. "And they're a good team. They have nothing to hang their heads over."