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Jazz Sweep Vets for Crown of 63+ Legends Division of Redwood Empire

Redwood Empire Baseball League, 63+ Legends Division


‘Jazz Sweep Vets in Championship Series’

The Jazz captured their second consecutive Redwood Empire Baseball League 63+ Legends division title with two lopsided victories over the Vets, a surprising championship series opponent. The Jazz defeated the Vets 27-5 and 43-3 in the best-of-three championship series.

"We had a 19-1 record last year and our goal was an undefeated record,” said Jazz manager Ralph Leef.

Leef praised the Vets, who came from last place to qualify for the playoffs by virtue of a tiebreaker and then beat the No. 2-seeded Seals in the playoff semifinals in two straight games. But even on a good roll, the Vets were no match for the heavy-hitting Jazz, who banged out 522 hits and 480 runs during the 18-game regular season.

The Jazz were led by championship series MVP Mike Lopez (.636), a catcher by trade who was flawless on defense at first base filling in for the injured Mike Farris in the championship series. Lopez had four doubles and drove in nine runs in the two games.

Leef, who led the 730-member REBL with a .703 regular-season batting average (52x74), was 9x12 with 12 RBI and seven stolen bases. But the Jazz hit parade kept going on: third-sacker Bill Delaney (7x11, 9 RBI); center fielder Matt Dockstader (7x11, two doubles); left fielder Robert McGregor (5x9, 8 runs, 6 RBI),  80-year-old Dick Giberti (5x9); outfielder Paul Johnson (5x9, 3 doubles, 4 walks) and reserve outfielder Allen Hobbs (3x3, 3 Walks).  Catcher Mark Yanuskiewicz, the regular-season Legends League MVP, was 6x10 with nine runs scored.

David "Doc” Charp and Al Surges, both in their early 70s, got the pitching decisions, each allowing only five hits in six innings in the championship series. Frank Milian, 71, was flawless at shortstop and pitched in relief, as did Giberti. Milian and Giberti went on to pitch teams to titles in the post-season World Series.

Vets manager Donny de Cordova saluted his team following the title game.  "We started the season with a roster of 22 players and for the finals were able to field 16. Over the course of the season we lost six players due to injuries, but this scrappy bunch continued to march on,” said Cordova. "You have to hand it to the Jazz. I don’t think the champs of the (55+) division would be able to beat them this weekend.

Tim Teixeira led the Vets with a .556 postseason average, seven runs scored and nine RBI. The Vets postseason highlight came in game one of the semifinals against the Seals when infielder Eric Williams hit a grand slam over the right field fence to push his team to the upset victory.

Jim Brown, who helped pitch the Vets into the championship series, passed away not long after the season from a heart attack.

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