Arizona MSBL 35+
SanTan Brewers 19, AZ
Overwhelms Angels in Title Game’
After starting the 2016 season 0-2, general manager Al Albert was still optimistic the SanTan Brewers had the talent to
compete for a division title. The Brewers bats came alive to capture
seven wins in a row before dropping a tough loss to the Tigers, 3-2, after a deep drive to the fence by manager Joe Inch with the bases loaded and two
outs in the ninth was caught to end the game. The Brewers rebounded to
rattle off 13 consecutive wins to end the regular season 23-3, running away
with the 35+ East division title. Despite the strong finish, the Brewers were the #2 seed in the eight team double elimination playoff as the powerful AZ Angels won the West division with a
19-2-1 record to capture the #1 seed.
The playoffs started with the tough Arizona Aces putting a 3-spot on Ed Reading to start the game, but the Brewers rebounded for an 11-4 win behind Reading’s complete game gem and Donny Ochoa’s three hits. Dan Ciraulo, Anthony Arenz and Albert chipped in with two RBI
The next game versus the Rockies was a drama-filled battle that again saw the Brewers allow the visitors a 3-spot to
open the game. After several ties and lead
changes, the Brewers went into the
ninth inning with a 9-7 lead, highlighted by Dirk Thompson’s 2-run blast deep into the Scottsdale night. With one out and a potential game ending
double play grounder to short, Thompson’s knee gave out, suffering a catastrophic season-ending knee injury. Despite losing Thompson and Scott Sachwitz, who also suffered a season ending knee injury after leading the way with three
hits and three RBI, the Brewers held
on for a bitter-sweet 9-8 win and advanced to play the #1 seed Angels.
With the Brewers missing several key players, they were blown out by the Angels 9-2, ending their 15 game winning streak, and were headed to
the losers bracket. For the Brewers to win the championship they
were faced with the daunting task of beating the always tough East Valley Yankees and then the Angels twice.
Despite the Brewers
poor defense for the second consecutive game, they went on to beat the
9-4 behind Bob Larson’s
complete game 4-hitter and Jerry Tuman’s
three hits and three
RBI to earn a birth in the finals against the Angels.
Inch made the
decision to move Tony Piowarsy to
shortstop and that turned out to be a key move, as Piowarsy made every play along with the rest of the defense. Pitcher Tuman and Matt Beaver kept the powerful Angels lineup at bay all game, allowing
only seven hits over nine innings. Clutch
hitting from Arenz, with three hits
and two RBI off Angels ace Manny Birruete, allowed the Brewers to hang on for a hard fought 3-2
win and a birth in the winner-take-all finale.
The visiting Brewers led
off their fourth game in eight days with three straight singles off Angels ace Dave Blackburn. After a sacrifice
fly and error the Brewers jumped out
on top 2-0. The Angels tied the score in the bottom of the first, but the Brewers batted around in the third
inning and scored five runs, including doubles by Arenz, Albert, Ochoa and Tim Whalen to take a 7-2 lead. The Angels scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to close the gap to 9-4, but the
relentless Brewers answered with seven
runs in the top of the seventh to take an insurmountable 16-4 lead and
eventually a 19-6 win to capture an improbable but not surprising
General manager Al Albert stated, "It was a total team effort, with guys like Pete Basaldu, Tommy Piowarsy and Juan Valenciano stepping in when
called upon and coming up big in the playoffs. It will be a nice celebration with some ice
cold SanTan beer!!”
Overall, the Brewers finished the 2016 season with a 24-4
record and Albert won his fifth championship in the past 16 years at the helm of the Brewers, winning it all in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2010 and 2016. One-third of the Brewers 2016 roster were on
all five championship teams…Al Albert,
Dirk Thompson, Scott Sachwitz, Ed Reading, Bob Larson and Rich Dobrovich.