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Southern Maryland Titans 6, Puerto Rico Athletics 5
'McGlaughlin's Double in the Ninth Wins the Title'
By Andy Villamarzo, special to MSBL
Clearwater, FL., November 14, 2015 - Through the first six
games of the tournament, the Puerto Rico Athletics had one objective on their
minds: avenge last year's championship loss.
The A's would face off against the same team they faced in
2014, the Southern Maryland Titans, and entered the tourney allowing the fewest
runs of any 56 and over clubs. Both teams turned to their pitching and defenses
to decide the championship game and in the end, it would be Titans coming out
on top once again for the 56 and over title. The Titans received a clutch,
bottom of the ninth inning 2-run double from Mike McGlaughlin and upended the
Athletics 6-5 in thrilling comeback fashion Saturday evening at the Joe
"Let’s cut it in half. Get it within two. Tie it
up," Southern Maryland coach Michael Steinhouser said about his team's
comeback win. "Just make sure we either tie it up or go win it. I never
lost faith in my guys."
Puerto Rico pitcher Virgillio Perez got into a bases loaded
jam in the top of the opening inning, after he walked three batters with only
one out. Perez was able to get the necessary two outs to exit the frame and
most importantly not allow any runs to cross the plate. After the shaky first
inning, Perez calmed down on the mound and found a groove against Southern Maryland's
potent lineup, retiring nine of the next 12 batters without a serious scoring
Titans pitcher Rozetto Gordon induced a lot of ground ball
outs, as the right-hander produced 12 outs out of a possible 18 batters faced
via grounders. He would receive some much needed run support in the bottom of
the fifth inning when Dan Florio scored from second base. An answer from the Athletics
would come in the following inning with Puerto Rico mustering up a 2-out rally
and scoring three runs to take a 3-1 lead.
Heading into the bottom of the sixth and armed with a
seemingly commanding 3-1 advantage, Puerto Rico leaned upon its pitching and
fielding to hold onto a two run lead. Perez continued to stymie Titans' batters
and kept them off balance with a steady diet of fast balls and off speed
pitches. The A's ended up tacking on a couple more runs to take a 5-1 lead, but Steinhouser let his left-handed reliever Jesus Cruz know if he could hold
Puerto Rico to no runs, the Titans would come back and win.
"I promised him if he held on for us, we would come
back and win it and he did," Steinhouser said. "The guys backed me
up. We've had each other's backs all week long. We've played hard and we had
the Lord on our side."
Steinhouser's words rang true, as his club chipped away at
Puerto Rico's four run lead. The bottom half of the ninth set the stage up for McGlaughlin, who didn't play the first couple of games in the tournament but
came up huge when needed. An error to start off the inning, followed by a walk,
sacrifice bunt, a groundout and a bloop single put runners on second and third
with two outs. An intentional walk of JB Brown put McGlaughlin up, who said his
last game winning hit came when he played at Rockville High School. He liked A's pitcher Antonio Matias' 0-2
offering and sent it over the leftfielder's head, scoring Florio and Albert
Martinez for the go-ahead runs.
"We have an expression we all share and it's 'Don't
Suck'," McGlaughlin said jokingly. "I was just trying to hit the ball
hard and up the middle and God blessed me to hit the ball well. It felt great.
I knew when I hit it that I had the leftfielder beat. I didn't know what
everyone else was doing. Pretty magical to happen at (age) 55."