The Kinston Indians (Cleveland) are now on the verge of finishing their 25th and final season in the Eastern North Carolina city in a grand fashion by defeating the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas) for the Carolina League Southern Division title.
The Indians (76-62) who won the second half battered the first half leading Pelicans (72-67) winning the series 3-1 battering the birds with 24 runs in the final three games. Led by strong pitching and the hitting of Tyler Holt, Adam Abraham and a massive final game three run homerun by Jesus Aguilar the Indians capitalized on defensive mistakes and pounded the Pelicans in the final three games by scores of 8-6, 7-0 and 9-2.
I was at the two games in Kinston against Myrtle Beachand the K-Tribe was fun to watch. When the last out was recorded on Saturday night the celebration was something to remember. I have not seen a championship game in person although I did attend two games in the 1972 ALCS which the Oakland Athletics took from the Detroit Tigers winning the final game in Detroit. To see the players celebrate and the fans remain after the game was special.
The Indians will open the final series for the Mills Cup against the Frederick Keys on Tuesday the 13th in Frederick. The teams will play the first two games in Frederick and return to Kinston on Thursday the 15th. The Keys (Baltimore) (80-60) defeated the Potomac Nationals in 5 games to win the Northern Division in a series extended by a rain out.
The Keys hold an 8-7 head to head advantage against the Indians in 2011. The teams during the second half of the season have been exceptionally well matched and the series should be exciting.
It ill also be the last series played inKinstonwin or lose. The K-Tribe will move to Zebulon to take the name of the AA Carolina Mudcats of the Southern League who are moving toPensacolaFlorida. While it is indeterminate if Kinston will have a team next year both the President and the Vice President of Minor League Baseball have visited this year. While old, Historic Grainger Stadium is very well maintained and its immaculately kept field is among the best in Single-A baseball. Frederick whose future with the Keys was in doubt now appears to be on the verge of signing a 10 year stadium lease agreement with the Orioles affiliate.
Kinstonhas a long baseball history in the Carolina League and the team is central to the identity of this city which has been hard hit with the exporting of most of its textile jobs overseas. I hope that Minor League Baseball finds a team for Kinston and I hope that the K-Tribe gives the city one last Carolina League title. It has been a special season; why not go out on top?
I plan on being at each game to be played inKinstonwith my friends. Watching a game at Grainger Stadium is like being in the stands in the movie Bull Durham. The people fans and the team are special. It is the end of an era that hopefully will be the prelude to a new era of baseball in this historic town.