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Chicago Fire 14, Tucson Toros
‘Piraro Leads the Fire with
By Chris Cadeau, special to
October 27, 2017, Maryvale
Complex, Phoenix, AZ - The Chicago Fire erupted for eight runs in the bottom of
the seventh-inning and defeated the Tucson Toros by a score of 14-3 to capture
the 65+ Mountain Division of the Men’s Senior Baseball League World Series.
The Fire coupled timely hitting
with solid defense to keep Tucson on its heels all morning, something Chicago
manager Bart Zeller was excited for his team to display after his team fell in last
year’s World Series.
"I think we had excellent defense
all week,” Zeller said. "I think we won most of our games by making the routine
plays and not trying to be outstanding. The guys just understood that last year
we got real close, but when you walk away a loser you try to come back and win
it all. And these guys did a great job of doing that this year.”
The story of the game was the
Fire’s ability to manufacture six runs before the seventh inning off Toro
pitching. The display wasn’t flashy either, but it was effective.
Fire Co-MVP (along with Chuck Scheidt) Andy Piraro (4
for 5, two extra base hits and three runs scored) led off the game with a
double and was brought home by the Buzz Mann in the very next at bat by way of
single to make it 1-0. Chicago would score a single run in each of the first
six frames to take a 6-1 lead into the seventh.
For the Toros it was the
inability to cash in with runners on base. Tucson stranded 10 runners in the
game and four in scoring position.
The Toros would cut the lead
to 6-3 with one in the sixth and two in the seventh. Bob Whitacre had the RBI
single in the sixth scoring right fielder Jeff Naval. In the seventh it was a double
by third baseman Steve Packer, which was followed up with a Glen Vann RBI
triple and capped by a Rich Bonny RBI single in consecutive at bats.
Packer was solid at the plate
for Tucson going 3 for 4 at the dish with an extra a base hit and a run scored.
Packer and Naval (2 for 4) were the only Toros with more than one hit. But
that’s all the offense the Toros could muster.
"We got to take our hat off
to the Fire, because they played well,” Toro’s manager Mike Morales said. "We
left a lot of guys on base. Unfortunately we didn’t get any real key hits. When
we cut the lead down to three that was our chance, but we stranded the bases
loaded and it turned the tide.”
Turned the tide indeed. Fire
starting pitcher John Heinzl finished the game giving up five hits over five, and
only got in deep trouble in the third and sixth inning. Heinzl was able to
wiggle out of a bases-loaded-no-out jam in the third unscathed, but he would be
lifted in the seventh when the Toros compiled a single, walk and a hit-by-pitch
with one out.
Fire relief pitcher Chuck
Heatley would pick up his starter in a big way. Heatley induced a ground ball
out of the first batter he faced, Toro’s right fielder Al Pellegrini, which
resulted in a RBI fielder’s choice. Heatley then followed that up with another
ground ball two batters later to end the inning.
The eight run seventh saw 13
batters stride to the dish for Chicago. The Fire scored eight runs off nine
singles. Tucson starting pitcher Tino Nevarez was responsible for seven of the
Nevarez would go six and
two-thirds of an inning, allowing 13 runs off 20 hits. Tino overall did a great
job of pitching to contact. Chicago just sprayed the ball all afternoon. The Fire
bats were peddle to the metal all game, and it was only fitting that the team
from the shores of Lake Michigan came out on top in Phoenix.