Find a League In Your Area
Bay Area MSBL, 50+
Monarchs 6, Giants 5
History for 50+ Bay Area Crown’
Submitted by Gordon
The Bay Area MSBL 50+ league has been dominated by the Giants since the league’s inception. The Palo
Alto-based squad, let by Hall of Fame member Pat Carroll, has won
nine of the ten championships awarded in the division, a reign broken only by
the Marin County-based Monarchs in 2015.
Last year’s three-game
championship series proved a particular heartache for perennial runners-up Monarchs, as they coughed up a six-run lead in the ninth inning in the finale
to crater their back-to-back hopes and lending momentum to the Giants entering
the 2017 season, in which the Giants again accumulated the most regular-season
The 2017 first-round
playoff series began with the Giants beating the Sidewinders, and the Monarchs,
with the second-best regular season record, dispatching the Seals with a
mercy-rule 18-5 score. This set up the
championship series with the Giants.
The championship round
began with the Giants thrashing the Monarchs with a mercy-rule beating, lending
worries that the Giants would win it all against the Monarchs as they have done
in at least a half-dozen season-ending playoff series. But on September 24ththe Monarchs turned the tide, piling up 17 runs against the Giants in a
shocking mercy-rule score of 17-7 to set up a winner-take-all match in Palo
Alto on Sunday, October 1st.
The Monarchs started
fast in the title game, putting up three runs against a tough MikeWilgus in the second inning, and adding a run in the third.
Meanwhile, Mike Hanna, the season-long ace for the Monarchs and the BAMSBL 50+ Cy Young award winner in 2016, was overpowering the Giants with a
shutout through seven innings.
In the bottom of the
seventh the Monarchs plated two with efficiency. With two aboard, Steve Gray lined a single to left,
scoring Bill Luoma as well as Gordon Wright, who
came all the way around from first. A Giants rally in the eighth brought
home their first run, and more could have scored had it not been for 2015 BAMSBL 50+ MVP Steve Gray, who laid out in left field to snare a
curving shot down the line.
Then, only three outs
away from the Championship in the ninth, the wheels fell off, as the Monarchs
began throwing the ball all over the yard. Years of frustration and repeated
defeats fostered doubts among the players, even as Hanna labored through the
errors to get two outs.
John Shea, a sports writer with the San Francisco Chronicle,
fought off a two-strike count to slash a grounder to third and hustled up the
line to force another error and suddenly, the tying run was on first for the
Giants with the top of the order coming up.
Hanna again ran the
count to 1-2 until Tony Kerlegan roped a sizzling shot up the first baseline. Luoma, in right field, flew toward the line, barely cutting it off before it
skidded to the fence, and delivered a strike to second baseman Brad
Lakritz who fired to catcher Mike Allen. With the entire season
poised in the balance and years of losses looming in the background, Allen
tagged out the runner just 40 feet from home plate. This brought an end to the Giants’ dominance
and secured the second championship for the Monarchs in three years.
It was an especially
sweet ending for the founding members of the Monarchs, Hall of Famer Mike
Knittel and Reggie Vance. Knittel, with 29 years of
service to the MSBL, keeps threatening retirement, but his players are hoping
to put an end to that kind of talk and are already looking forward to defending
their title in 2018.