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Tournament of Champions, Round 3: day 18

the quarterfinals are almost set; here's the last game in the round of 16. summary comes after the jump.

Game 7, 1944 v 1964

Game 7
(series tied, 3 games apiece)

summary by giveml

The series is even, the stage is set. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals, and the losers will get on with the cyber offseason. The 1944 Cardinals have momentum and Harry "The Cat" Brecheen on their side, and the 1964 Cardinals have a very pissed-off Bob Gibson going for them. While Brecheen handcuffed the `64s in Game 3, Gibson was abused in Game 4. Breechen only allowed four hits in 6 1/3 innings in his victory, but Gibson was roughed up for nine hits and seven earned runs as he failed to get out of the second inning. The famous Gibson glare will be in full force today.

The managers remain consistent in their lineup choices for this seventh and deciding game. Billy Southworth will ride the same eight horses, and Johnny Keane goes with his usual lineup against a lefty. The `44s are the home team, and they take the field as Curt Flood stands in. The full lineups:

1964 1944
Curt Flood, cf Danny Litwhiler, lf
Lou Brock, lf Johnny Hopp, cf
Dick Groat, ss Stan Musial, rf
Ken Boyer, 3b Walker Cooper, c
Bill White, 1b Ray Sanders, 1b
Mike Shannon, rf Whitey Kurowski, 3b
Julian Javier, 2b Marty Marion, ss
Tim McCarver, c Emil Verban, 2b
Bob Gibson, p Harry Brecheen, p

Flood is desperate to merit the faith Keane has placed in him by continuing to write his name in the leadoff spot in spite of his 4-for-26 performance and .185 OBP through the first six games. His determination is rewarded: Brecheen leaves a pitch out over the plate, and Flood just about takes The Cat's hat off with a sizzling line drive through the box. Brock has been an offensive star thus far, and he continues his stellar performance by fisting a Texas Leaguer into shallow center; Flood races to third. Brecheen recovers to pop up Groat, bringing up the 1964 MVP with one out. Boyer laces his eighth single of the series (without an extra base hit), driving in Flood and advancing Brock to third. Bill White makes a bid for his third home run of the series, but his long drive to center is tracked down by Johnny Hopp. Brock trots home, Boyer is still on first with two out, so it will take something dramatic from Mike Shannon if the `64s are to expand on their 2-0 lead. Once again Brecheen catches too much of the plate, and the big right fielder hits a screaming blue darter that one hops the left field wall for an RBI double. Finally, Brecheen is able to put the fire out by getting Julian Javier to pop out to Emil Verban at second. Gibby stalks to the mound with a 3-0 lead.

No first-inning trouble for Gibson this time as he comes out firing. His ball has an unusual sink to it, and the `44s can't handle it as Danny Litwhiler, Johnny Hopp, and Stan Musial all ground out. Brecheen comes out in the second and gets off to a good start as he fans McCarver on a bad ball out of the zone. Gibby still has the glare going as he steps into the box, and he battles Brecheen to a full count. Brecheen is able to get a moving fastball in on Gibby's hands, but he fights it off and bloops a hit down the left field line. Gibson is thinking two all the way and slides hard into second just ahead of Litwhiler's throw. Flood steps in with Gibson glaring at him from second base. He comes through, ripping a double down the left field line to score Gibby and extend the lead to 4-0. Brecheen retires Brock and Groat to end the inning. The '64s are feeling good.

Gibson's sinking fastball serves him well in the bottom of the second. After surrendering a groundball single to Walker Cooper, he is able to get Ray Sanders to hit a two-hopper to Javier for a perfect 4-6-3 double play. Shannon mutters something about the double play being the pitcher's best friend as Kurowski stands in. He hits a sixth straight ground ball, and Boyer throws him out to end the inning.

Brecheen is trying to stay in the game and gets off to a good start in the third as he retires both Boyer and White to bring up Shannon. Shannon looks like he will be an easy victim, but Kurowski fields his routine grounder and throws the ball into the dirt for an error. Javier makes him pay for the error by jacking the next pitch 420 feet to center field and just over the fence for a two-run homer. Gibson now has a six-run lead, and it looks like it's time to chill the bubbly and cover the locker room in plastic.

Gibson responds like a thoroughbred stallion and totally shuts down the `44s. He is relentless and only allows two hits through the first eight innings. Only one runner reaches second base. Boyer drives in a seventh run in the top of the ninth to make it 7-0, leaving no suspense as Gibson heads out to try and complete his shutout. It doesn't happen; he falters slightly in the ninth and allows three hits and a couple of runs. But when Walker Cooper grounds out to Javier for the third out the `64s go wild with caps and gloves flying in the air. A mob embraces Gibson on the mound. The `64s will advance to play the 1934 Cardinals in the quarters. Gibson is named Star of the Game, but Curt Simmons is series MVP. Simmons stands out in a high-scoring series by hurling 14 scoreless innings and winning two games, including the critical Game 5 that stopped the `44s momentum and gave the `64s the edge. Lou Brock and Ken Boyer get many votes as well; Brock went .379/.517/.621 with five steals, and Boyer, despite not recording a single extra-base hit, had an OBP of .708 with an OPS of 1.083. Musial and Cooper carried the offense for the `44s. They were the only players to hit over .300: Musial hit .429/.571/.607, and Cooper went .393/.464/.536.