Coral Gables Athletics 6, Chicago Rippers 3
'Cancel Goes Perfect at the Plate'
By Andy Villamarzo, Special to MSBLNational.com
Orlando, FL., January 18, 2016 - Coming off a tough, hard earned win
earlier in the day against former Tampa Bay Devil Rays' pitcher Esteban Yan, Miguel Garcia's Coral Gables Athletics needed to put together one more solid
performance before making the trip back down I-95 towards south Florida.
Going up against a Chicago Rippers team coming from near
freezing temperatures, which the city was hovering around 10 degrees with the
wind chill factor, the Athletics were able to cool down their opponents from Illinois. Garcia tabbed Robinson Cancel as the team's most valuable player for
the tournament, as the extra hitter went 3-for-3 with a run batted in and a
walk en-route to Coral Gables topping Chicago 6-3 Monday afternoon on Martin
Luther King Day.
"(Robinson Cancel) was actually held hitless on
Friday," Garcia said. "He hasn't really been playing baseball the
past couple of years and I think he had like five or six hits (Sunday) and
ended up with three or four more hits this weekend. He was huge. He had some
great at bats, great base running and really set the tempo for us in the middle
of the order."
Chicago opened up the bottom of the first inning with the
initial scoring, as Jermey Spears started off the inning with a walk and Dom
Biagini hit a routine fly ball to Athletics' center fielder Juan Quesada, who
committed an error and dropped the easy out, which put runners at first and
second. Third baseman Anthony Feliciano hit a single to left field, which scored
Spears from second base. Biagini scored on the next at bat of Karl Lundholm,
who singled to right field and gave the Rippers an early 2-0 lead.
Coral Gables did have a response to Chicago's runs, when in
the top of the second inning Cancel ended up scoring on an Ulpi Fuente's single
and cut the deficit to 2-1. For the next three and a half innings, both teams
stalemated and pitching would take over as five hits were scattered but no runs
came seriously close to crossing the plate.
The Rippers scored their final run of the game in the top of
the sixth when Lundholm tripled home Biagini, who walked earlier in the inning.
Lundholm's second RBI gave Chicago a seemingly commanding 3-1 lead heading into
the last three and a half innings of play, but Garcia's group was no where near
ready to give up on its quest for a fourth overall championship.
Garcia's club began the comeback trail in the top end of the
seventh, when a walk of Jose Zabala and Luis Rodriguez single put two runners
on to start off the frame. A fielder's choice on a ground ball by David Espinosa scored Zabala and put the Athletics down 3-2. The top of the eighth was when Coral Gables would fully complete its comeback. Cancel scored the tying run on
a single to left field by George Hassell, who would later score the go-ahead run
on a passed ball during the at bat of Albert Jardiner.
The Athletics, armed with a 4-3 lead, left the rest of the
game pitching-wise to Jason Privett, who struck out three batter and allowed
three hits and no runs on three innings of work. Coral Gables tagged on a
couple insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning to help secure back to
back championships in the 18 and over division.
"It was a great group effort," Garcia added.
"Great pitching all weekend and finally our defense came together in this
last game. We came up big late with some big timely hits. Robinson Cancel and George Hassell deserve a lot of the offensive credit over the weekend."