It was an eventful week for San Diego’s professional sports teams as the Padres defeated the Dodgers to advance to the National League Championship Series, the San Diego Wave made history with its first-ever National Women’s Soccer League playoff win and the San Diego Gulls faced off their 2022- 23 American Hockey League season with an intrepid 6-2 win in Grand Rapids.
The Padres defeated the archrival Dodgers, 5-3, Saturday night with a climactic seventh inning rally that send cars honking, bar and restaurant patrons and private parties throughout the region exulting in revelry.
The Pads, following a 5-3 loss in Game 1 on Oct. 11, won the final three games in the best-of five divisional series to prevail in four games to knock the regular season NL West champs out of the playoffs.
The Friars are making their first appearance in the NL championship series since 1998.
In the fateful seventh inning, Jurickson Profar, Trent Grisham and Austin Nola all reached base. Ha-Seong Kim doubled to score two runs to trim the Dodgers’s lead to 3-2.
Midseason acquisition Juan Soto tied the score on a base hit before Jake Cronenworth, who has become a key player this season for the Padres, delivered a two-out, two-run single up the middle to push the hosts ahead 5-3 on the scoreboard.
The Dodgers appeared prohibitive favorites after setting a franchise record for wins (111) in the regular season and taking 14 of 19 games from their division rivals to the south this season.
The Padres, who finished a distant second in the NL West race with 89 wins, evened the series with a 5-3 win in Game 2 on Oct. 12 in Los Angeles and led from start to finish in Game 3 with a 2-1 victory at Petco Park on Oct. 14.
Manny Machado (San Diego) and Freddy Freeman (Los Angeles) homered in the first inning in Game 2. The Dodgers regained the lead, 2-1, on a home run by Max Muncy in the bottom of the second inning. The visitors went ahead, 3-2, in the top of the third inning on a double by Machado and ground-out by Cronenworth.
The Dodgers tied the game, 3-3, in the bottom of the frame on a solo home run by Trea Turner.
But the Friars went ahead for good, 4-3, in the sixth inning when Profar singled in Cronenworth.
The Pads got an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning when Cronenworth homered.
The Dodgers left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Blake Snell was the winner in Game 3 while Grisham homered.
The Wave made history on Sunday as the first NWSL expansion team to win a playoff match.
A NWSL playoff-record crowd of 26,215 at Snapdragon Stadium was witness to the Wave’s most exciting game of the season that saw the local team successfully rally from a 1-0 deficit in the 10th minute goals scored by Emily van Egmond in the 67th minute (game-tying tally) and Alex Morgan in the 110 minute (20 minutes into extra time for the game-winner).
The history-making victory propels the Wave into the NWSL semifinals on Oct. 23 against the second-seeded Portland Thorns.
The winner advances to the NWSL championship game Oct. 29 in Washington, D.C.
Birds of a feather
New Gulls head coach Roy Sommer ran his AHL career coaching record win total to 809 in advance of Friday’s home opener against the arch-rival
Ontario Reign as his team never trailed in last Friday’s season opener to start a two-game road trip to Michigan.
“It feels good, but glad to get it out of the way now than wait a couple games like a win wasn’t going to come,” Sommer said. “It was good; I knew we were going to play pretty well because I thought we had really solid practices. The guys were attentive, they worked hard, they were into it. You could tell they were just chomping at the bit to play games. It was good to get it out of the way and, especially to get a win.”
San Diego never trailed in the non-divisional contest, leading 2-0 on goals by Hunter Drew and Benoit-Olivier Groulx and upping that margin to 4-2 entering the third period.
Justin Kirkland led the Gulls with five shots, scoring on a power play goal at 13:05 of the second period off passes from Nikolas Brouillard and Glenn Gawdin to place the visitors ahead 4-1 on the scoreboard.
Brouillard picked up three points (one goal, two assists) to lead the Gulls in the season opener while La Mirada’s Chase De Leo had two goals and Brayden Tracey and Olli Juolevi each collected two assists.
De Leo’s first goal, which came at 11:56 of the second period, staked San Diego to a 3-1 lead. Assists went to Joulevi and Axel Andersson. De Leo’s second goal, which came on a power play at 12:50 of the third period, pushed the Gulls ahead further at 5-2.
Assists on the latter goal went to Drew and Jacob Perreault. De Leo wound up scoring the game-winning goal to earn second star of the game honors.
First star of the game honors, however, were reserved for San Diego goaltender Lukas Dostal, who stopped 25 of 27 shots.
“Good start, you know, getting the first goal, especially on the road in a (season) opener is always a good thing to have,” Sommer said.” It kind of helps you relax a little bit instead of them getting it, but a lot of penalties tonight. I think there was 11 or 12 total; we killed a 5-on-3, a five-minute (penalty). I thought or goaltending was excellent.”
The teams rematched Saturday in Grand Rapids with the host Griffins claiming an 8-5 win to even the teams’ records at 1-1.
Gawdin tallied two goals and one assist while Danny O’Regan dished out three assists to lead the Gulls with three points in the setback.
Juolevi and Brouillard both collected a goal and assist for their second consecutive multipoint game.
The Gulls received two assists for newly-signed Southern California youth roller hockey star Rocco Grimaldi.
Friday’s home opener faces off at 7 p.m. at Pechanga Arena.