In the 1970s and 1980s, the Millbrae Joe DiMaggio Summer League entry was a powerhouse, winning five Joe DiMaggio World Series titles.
Twenty-six years after its last World Series crown, the 2013 edition would like to add their names to the list as Millbrae claimed one of the spots in the Joe DiMaggio World Series championship at the Veterans’ Home in Yountville.It will play a yet-to-be-determined opponent, but having gone 3-0 through the winner’s bracket, Millbrae will need to be beaten twice to be denied the program’s sixth World Series title.
“We’ve swung the bat every single game (of the tournament),” said Millbrae co-manager Robby Garrison.
It opened the tournament with a 10-2 win over Trinity-San Francisco. It followed that with a 6-3 win over the Sierra Sundevils of Reno to move into the winner’s bracket championship game.
Garrison said the key for Millbrae was to win its second-round game.
“There were definitely some teams that could (have gotten) in our way,” Garrison said. “The biggest game we had to win was Game 2, when we would get either Pacifica or Reno.”
The Sundevils had beaten Pacifica 13-7 in the first round to set up the showdown with Millbrae in the second round.
In the winner’s bracket final, Millbrae blasted River City 14-6 to advance to the championship series.
Millbrae was down 3-1 early to River City, before erupting for 10 runs in the third inning for an 11-3 advantage.
“After that, it was lights out,” Garrison said. “Our bats have made it easier for our pitching. It’s always easy to pitch with an eight-run lead.”
The Millbrae pitching has been just as locked in as its offense. All three starters threw complete games in the first three games of the tournament to give it a rested bullpen for the finals. Garrison said Mills standout Kyle Vallans will pitch Game 1 of the championship series and beyond that, doesn’t know who he will turn to in case he has to reach into the bullpen.
“We have a deep pitching rotation and Vallans is a solid guy,” Garrison said. “We’ll play it (the use of the bullpen) by ear. We do have a lot of arms we haven’t used yet. … But one of our aces (from the first three game) could also come back (on mostly normal rest).”
After advancing to the championship series of the Peninsula League tournament in 2012, only to fall to San Carlos, Millbrae was determined to not only win the Peninsula League title, but make a legitimate push for the Joe DiMaggio World Series championship. It finished with an 18-3 record this season in league play, finishing in a three-way atop the Peninsula League standings with Pacifica and San Carlos. It then captured the Peninsula League tournament title to punch its ticket to the World Series.
“We have a lot of experience,” Garrison said. “This year, the goal was to win the whole thing. It was definitely an expectation.
“[The players] expected to get here. The coaches expected to get here. The parents expected to get here. We got here.”
Two other Peninsula team advanced to the World Series. Pacifica received a spot as the Peninsula League regular-season champion, while Daly City captured the San Francisco League regular-season title.
Pacifica lost to the Sierra Sundevils 13-7 in the first round, but rebounded for a 9-6 win over Trinity-San Francisco in a loser’s bracket elimination game.
Pacifica was eliminated in its next game, falling 3-0 to Napa.
For Daly City, which went 14-6 in league play, it was 2-and-a-bbq. It lost 7-2 to the River City Outlaws in the first round and were buried 12-0 by Tri-County in the loser’s bracket.