09/18/2005 10:27 PM - The Gary SouthShore RailCats completed their amazing journey on Sunday afternoon with the greatest prize of all: the 2005 Northern League Championship.
Losers of a league record 65 games in 2004, the RailCats defeated the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, 2-1 at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary to capture the Northern League Title, three games to two. Fargo had set league records for wins and had two winning streaks in the second half of at least thirteen games.
Gary won all three games at U.S. Steel Yard after dropping both contests in Fargo. The RailCats are the first team in Northern League history to win the Championship after losing the first two games of the final round. Overall, Gary was 5-0 in elimination games in the 2005 playoffs.
RailCats leftfielder Anthony Iapoce, who was 2-4 on Sunday and batted .450 (9-20) in the five games of the finals, was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the Championship Series.
Gary scored both of its runs in the first inning off Fargo's Brandon Culp, who lost for the first time in 16 overall decisions in 2005 despite blanking the RailCats over his last seven frames for his 2nd complete game of this series.
The RedHawks managed just four hits and a Bryon Jeffcoat 4th inning homer off Gary starter Jamie Bennett, who was pitching on three days rest. Travis Kerber followed with three hitless innings and Derek Lopez retired the side in order in 9th for the save.
Gary wins the Northern League Championship in just its 4th season in the league and 1st playoff appearance. The RailCats become just the 5th different team to win a NL crown, joining St. Paul (4), Winnipeg (4), Fargo-Moorhead (2), and Duluth-Superior (2).
The last time a team won a best of five Northern League playoff series after being down 0-2 was in 2001, when Winnipeg lost the 1st two games of a 1st round series against Fargo-Moorhead before capturing the final three contests.
Fargo-Moorhead lost for the 4th time in six trips to the Championship Series, including three of the last four. The RedHawks had been 11-0 lifetime at U.S. Steel Yard before losing the three games in this series, matching their longest losing streak of 2005. Fargo-Moorhead won 73 games overall, including five in the playoffs, the most in league history.
2005 NORTHERN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES RESULTS
Game Date Results WP LP
1 Tuesday, Sept. 13 at Fargo-Moorhead 5, Gary 1 Culp Schaefer
2 Wednesday, Sept. 14 at Fargo-Moorhead 5, Gary 4 Cable Bennett
3 Friday, Sept. 16 at Gary 7, Fargo-Moorhead 3 Fisher Sergent
4 Saturday, Sept. 17 at Gary 12, Fargo-Moorhead 4 Glen George
5 Sunday, Sept. 18 at Gary 2, Fargo-Moorhead 1 Bennett Culp
NORTHERN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, 1993-2005
Year Winner Loser Series
1993 St. Paul Saints Rochester Aces 3-1
1994 Winnipeg Goldeyes Sioux City Explorers 3-1
1995 St. Paul Saints Winnipeg Goldeyes 3-1
1996 St. Paul Saints Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3-0
1997 Duluth-Superior Dukes Winnipeg Goldeyes 3-2
1998 Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks St. Paul Saints 3-0
1999* Winnipeg Goldeyes Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3-0
2000* Duluth-Superior Dukes Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3-0
2001* Winnipeg Goldeyes Lincoln Saltdogs 3-1
2002* Winnipeg Goldeyes Sioux City Explorers 3-1
2003 Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Winnipeg Goldeyes 3-1
2004 St. Paul Saints Schaumburg Flyers 3-2
2005 Gary SouthShore RailCats Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3-2
*Northern League Central Division Final. Championship Series was played vs. Northeast League