Atlanta Reds 4, Long Island
‘Parrish Complete Game
By Chris Errington, Special
to MSBL National
November 6, 2016, Bright
House Field, Clearwater, FL – A pitcher’s demand and a controversial call
against them made all the difference for the Atlanta Reds. The result was a
championship their manager swears was never in doubt.
Andrew Parrish (2-0) tossed
his second complete game of the tournament and the Reds scored four times in
the eighth inning to secure a come-from-behind 4-1 victory over the Long Island
Tides. The victory was the fourth straight in the division for an Atlanta-based
team and the first for the Reds. The Georgia Cherokees won back-to-back titles before the Atlanta Barons captured
last year’s championship.
Trailing 1-0, Parrish learned
he was to be replaced on the mound as he bounded the dugout steps to start the
seventh inning. Infuriated, the right-hander won his battle with manager Don
Pike to remain in the game. "I got
pissed and threw my stuff when I heard,” Parrish said. "I told Don, ‘When we
get to this point, in a championship game, the ball is all mine.’ "When
[Parrish] gets pissed off, that’s when he’s on a whole different level,” Pike
said. "He told me, ‘You’re not taking me out,’ so I didn’t.” It was clearly the correct move.
Parrish got through the next
two innings without a run to set the stage for the critical bottom of the
eighth. Despite allowing only one hit
to that point, Long Island starting pitcher Tim Blackmon was replaced with
relief ace and Long Island MSBL league MVP CJ Ferriggi. Dion Tenney promptly
greeted him with a double off the left-field wall, setting the stage for the
game’s most controversial play.
Tyler Massey struck out
swinging on a pitch in the dirt and raced for first. When catcher Robert De La
Hoz’s throw struck Massey, the ball caromed past first allowing Tenney to score
the tying run. However, before Atlanta could finish its celebration, Massey was
called out for runner interference and Tenney was sent back to second. Reds players streamed from the dugout,
tempers flared and a starter was ejected. Eventually calm was restored, but the
damage was done – only the Tides didn’t know the call that went their way would
ultimately cost them the game.
"There’s no doubt that play
fired us all up,” Pike said. "They said [Massey] threw his hand up to block the
ball and we knew he didn’t. After that, the guys were determined to get it
Instead of folding, the Reds
dug in. Joe Wilson was hit by a pitch and Rocco Callaway hit a sharp comebacker
that Ferriggi reached behind him to grab. However, when the pitcher’s throw to
third to force out Tenney was errant, the bases were loaded. A walk tied the game 1-all and when Franklin
German’s potential inning-ending double play resulted in a second throwing
error, Atlanta had its first lead. William Scott followed by beating out an
infield single to score another run and when German raced all the way from
second to beat the throw home, the Reds’ four-run explosion was complete. All that was left was for Parrish to set Long
Island down in the ninth to earn a championship almost no one other than Pike
thought was possible when the eighth inning began.
"I just had this feeling
after the [semifinal victory over Atlanta MSBL rival Atlanta Barons] that it
was all ours,” the manager said. "Even in the eighth, I didn’t think we’d lose.
I knew we’d find a way to pull it out.” For
Long Island manager Max Feinberg, the decision to replace his starter when Pike
kept his in the game, was one he never second-guessed.
"It’s definitely disappointing
to lose, but we know seven is where [Blackmon] is comfortable,” Feinberg said,
"CJ’s been our horse all year and he got the pitches today. We just didn’t make
the plays behind him. When you play in a tournament like this, you’ve got to
play all 27 outs. You know the final six outs aren’t going to be easier to get
than the first 21.”
Mike Rachun broke a scoreless
tie in the sixth when he stroked a 3-1 fastball to center to score Joe Guido with two outs. But when Parrish left the bases loaded by striking out the next
Tides’ batter, Long Island’s one and only offensive threat ended.
Both teams completed
round-robin play 3-1, with Atlanta defeating the Coral Gables A’s 7-4 in the
playoffs and the Barons 6-3 in the semifinals behind Nick Squeglia’s stellar
7.1 inning effort.
Long Island reached its first
final in thrilling fashion, defeating both the Cherokees 5-4 (10 innings) and Tampa Thunder 1-0 on walk-off wild pitches. Matt Soren earned the shutout
Long Island 000 001 000 – 1 5 2
Atlanta 000 000 04x – 4 4 3
(2-0). LP: Ferriggi. 2B: Tenney (ATL). Pitching: Blackmon, Ferriggi (8), Lowe (8) and De La Hoz (LI).
Parrish and Massey (ATL).