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TCL CHAMPIONSHIP: HIGHWAY 121 SERIES

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The 2007 Texas Collegiate League Championship series will be an all too familiar match-up.  Tris Speaker division champion Coppell Copperheads will face off against the Rogers Hornsby division champion McKinney Marshals beginning on Friday for a three game series in the Highway 121 series for the TCL title. 

The classic battle between two of the most prolific teams in TCL history usually takes place during the first round divisional series.  From 2004-2006, both teams were in the Tris Speaker division until the league modification with the addition of Brazos Valley in 2007 moving the Marshals to the Hornsby division.

In every season leading up to 2007, McKinney has faced Coppell in the Speaker division series with the Marshals leading the series 4-2.  Coppell won the title in the inaugural 2004 season after sweeping the Marshals in the first round and McKinney ended on top in 2006 following a divisional series sweep of the Copperheads. 

Both teams made their fourth straight playoff appearance, but a different opponent was on the other side of the diamond during the first round.  Coppell swept a Brazos Valley team who made the post-season in their first season in the TCL.  The Marshals went up against Hornsby regular season champ Wichita Falls Roughnecks and defeated them in two straight games.

Coppell enters the championship with several hot bats in the lineup.  Current D-Bat Player of the Week Brandon Belt, who went 14-for-24 (.583) with three home runs, 10 RBI and 11 runs scored during the last week of the season, continued his streak with a two-run home run in game two against the Bombers to seal the win.  Matt Curry and Jeff Nutt had great games at the plate during the first round as well.  In game one, Curry went 2-for-3 with two RBI's and Nutt batted 1-for-4 with a solo-shot in the bottom of the fifth.  Both Lucus Engle and Mike Bolsinger had solid starts on the mound and earned wins in game on and two respectively.  Engle went seven innings only giving up two hits and striking out eight and Bolsinger lasted 5.2 innings and didn’t give up a run and struck out five.

During the Hornsby series, McKinney proved they could swing the bat in key situations.  In both games, Brandon Glover knocked in a late inning RBI that sealed the win for the Marshals. 
Glover had the game-winning RBI in game one on a sac fly and added an insurance run with an RBI double in game two. Dustin Hood, who didn’t have a home run all season, smashed a ball over the left field wall in the second game for the eventual game-winning run.   Derek Wiley had a round-tripper in both games, which gives him three home runs in non-regular season games in 2007 (One in All-Star Game and two in playoffs).  The Marshals, who has the best regular season ERA (3.06), had quality outings from their bullpen as Drew Zizinia was tabbed the win and Chris Wright the save in game one.  Mike Lee was the highlight on the mound during game two as he shut down the Roughnecks bats earning the win after pitching 3.1 innings of scoreless ball only allowing one hit and striking out four.

The 2007 TCL Championship, also called Highway 121 series, will begin on Friday in Coppell, who has the home field advantage due to superior regular season record. 

Below is the schedule for the upcoming Championship Series:

Wednesday August 8th
Off - Scheduled for "if necessary" games for divisional series

Thursday August 9th
Off

Friday August 10th
Championship Game 1
McKinney @ Coppell - 7:05pm

Saturday August 11th

Championship Game 2
Coppell @ McKinney - 7:05pm

Sunday August 12th
Championship Game 3 (if necessary)
McKinney @ Coppell - 7:05pm

Note:  The Texas Collegiate League will announce the 2007 D-Bat Player, Pitcher, Freshman and Coach of the Year as well as the All-League Team on Friday August 10th.  Last season Denton’s Aljay Davis was the Player of the Year, Coppell’s Randy Boone was the Pitcher of the Year, LoneStars’ Aaron Luna was Freshman of the Year and Denton’s Derek Matlock won his second straight Coach of the Year. 


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