Sonoma County Crushers

From BR Bullpen

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When the new Western Baseball League was formed in 1995, the Sonoma County Crushers were one of the original teams and would remain throughout the WL's many changes. They were 44-46 that first year under manager Paul Deese. The attendance of 84,173 for the Rohnert Park, CA-based club was third in the 8-team league. They were led by Player of the Year Kyle Washington (.370/.446/.651), who led the league in average and slugging, second to Scott Tedder in OBP, tied for second with 43 extra-base hits, 5th with 67 runs and 4th with 75 RBI.

The Crushers were the Western's worst in '96 at 34-56. The Dick Dietz-managed team was second in attendance (92,020) and had one All-Star, DH David Mowry (.327, a league-leading 30 doubles, second with a .587 slugging, tied for the lead with 50 extra-base hits, tied for second with 20 homers, tied for third with 76 RBI, 5th with 113 hits).

Sonoma County had the best record in 1997 at 56-34 but fell to the Chico Heat 2 games to 1 in the playoffs. Dietz was named Manager of the Year. Attendance fell to 4th at 91,692. They were second in the league in both ERA (4.63) and runs (587). Kris Frank (8-2, 2.48) had the best ERA, Eric Miller (4-2, 22 Sv, 2.84, 8 BB in 51 IP) led in saves and Todd Genke (12-4, 4.18) won the most games to almost sweep the pitching leaderboards in the league. Tony Coscia (7-4, 4.50) was second with 125 strikeouts, two off of the pace. Miller and Frank joined SS John Casey (.299, 80 R - third in the league) and 1B Mowry on the All-Star team. Mowry (.325, .578 SLG) was again one off of the lead in homers, was tied for 2nd with 82 RBI, 4th with 117 hits and second with 45 extra-base hits. DH Todd Pridy slugged .627, fifth in the league.

In 1998, the Crushers were 49-40 under Dietz's guidance and were third in fans drawn (89,598). They swept the Heat in the semifinals and then took the brooms to the Western Warriors in the championship. 1B Pridy, 3B Eric White, OF Vernon Spearman and pitcher Tony Coscia were All-Stars. Pridy (.408/.478/.665) led the league in average, OBP, slugging and hits (146), tied for the lead with 94 RBI, tied for fifth with 21 homers, was third with 50 extra-base hits, tied for third with 82 runs and was third with 29 doubles. White hit .350, while Spearman batted .363/.439/.480, was fourth in average, fifth in OBP, led with 89 runs, was second with 8 triples, was thied with 134 hits and second with 40 steals. Mowry only hit .239 with a .367 slugging. Coscia (10-4, 3.88) was tied for third in the league in wins and third with 131 strikeouts while Travis Thurmond (6-5, 3.05) was second in ERA and tied for the K lead (134).

Dietz's last year at the helm netted a 41-49 result and an exit in the first playoff round. C Grant Fithian (.278, .492 SLG) and P Kurt Takahashi (9-5, 3.71) were All-Stars. Takahashi was fourth in the league in ERA, second in strikeouts (119) and tied for second in wins. Spearman hit .285 but led the league with 55 steals and scored 89 runs, one behind the pace.

Guided by Jeffrey Leonard, the Crushers were 38-52 in 2000 and drew 86,151 fans (4th). The team did not have a single All-Star, though their most prominent name showed up in DH Kevin Mitchell (.286, .448 SLG). In '01, Sonoma County produced a 48-42 finish and 77,200 fans (4th again) with Tim Ireland in charge. 3B Bo Durkac (.336) and OF Chris Powell (.363, 25 SB) were All-Stars while Brian Grant (5-2, 4 Sv, 2.11) led the league in ERA.

In the Western League's final season in 2002, the Crushers were led by player-manager Mitchell and went 49-41 but lost to Chico in the playoffs. All-Star Mitchell (.363, .660 SLG) was second in the league in average and homers (20), Pridy hit .347 and All-Star OF Anton French hit .353 (third-best) with 8 triples and 48 steals (leading the league in both speed categories). Tim Davidson (12-2, 4.39) won the most games in the WL that year.

Sources: 1996-2003 Baseball Almanacs, The Western League by W.C. Madden and Patrick Stewart

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year League Affiliation Record Finish Manager Playoffs
1995 Western Baseball League none 44-46 3rd South Division Paul Deese
1996 Western Baseball League none 34-56 4th South Division Dick Dietz
1997 Western Baseball League none 56-34 1st South Division Dick Dietz lost to Chico 1-2 in semifinals
1998 Western Baseball League none 49-41 2nd South Division (tie) Dick Dietz defeated Western 3-0 in championship
1999 Western Baseball League none 41-49 3rd overall (tie) Dick Dietz
2000 Western Baseball League none 38-52 3rd South Division (tie) Jeffrey Leonard
2001 Western Baseball League none 48-42 3rd North Division Tim Ireland
2002 Western Baseball League none 49-41 2nd North Division Kevin Mitchell