by Dave Devine
The Toro's hitting prowess showed itself in the first inning of the first game, played in Washington state. After an opening walk to third baseman Phil Garner, followed by a bunt single, a triple and a sacrifice bunt, Tucson scored three runs.
After that, the Toros' bats fell silent, as Tucson collected only one more hit through the ninth inning. Meanwhile, Spokane scored runs in the first, second and seventh innings, sending the game into extra innings.
Tucson did get a double in the 10th, but that was all; Spokane won in the bottom of the frame.
Tucson's hitting was no better the next night, and Toros pitcher Glenn Abbott--the league leader in wins--was outpitched, as the Toros lost, 3-1.
Coming back home to Hi Corbett Field, the team needed a sweep.
In front of just 3,000 fans watching the third game, Spokane scored three times in the third. They added five more runs two innings later; the onslaught started with an error by future major league player and manager Garner.
The Toros came back, but their rally fell short; Tucson lost, 9-6.
The same disappointing result occurred the next time the Toros made the postseason. In 1980, the Albuquerque Dukes swept them, and it wouldn't be until 1991 that the Toros returned to the playoffs.
That year, the Toros lost the first two games of the championship series to the highly confident Calgary Cannons. They returned to Tucson, again needing a three-game sweep, and won their first game at home by a score of 7-1--before only 2,900 spectators.
The Toros won again the next night, in a 2-1 squeaker. That set up a final, winner-take-all game--and the Toros quickly fell behind. But they tied it by the fifth, and then won, 4-3, as clutch-hitting Joe Mikulik singled to drive in speedster Trenidad Hubbard before 9,000 screaming fans.
The Tucson Toros were at long last champions.
Two years later, the Toros repeated as PCL champions, with the Tucson team taking home a final title in 2006 (now called the Sidewinders and playing at Tucson Electric Park).
Attendance at Toros/Sidewinders games was anemic for most of the team's 40 years in town. Whether the team won or lost, Tucson as a whole just didn't care.
As a result, the club is now off to Reno, Nev.
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