Central Coast Tigers named 45 Wood Champs

By Gabe Chavez

Maryvale Stadium, Oct. 28, 2011 – The old Yogi-ism – it ain’t over ‘til it’s over – got a new twist in the 45 Wood Bat American division at the 2011 World Series.

Now it’s “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, and then when it’s over it still might not be over.”

Team Easton defeated the Central Coast Tigers, 4-3 in a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire game at Maryvale Stadium.

Team Easton was fitted for rings and the story had a happy ending – or so it seemed.

More than a month after the final out of that game was made, it was discovered that Team Easton’s roster had at least one underage player for whom an exemption was not requested nor granted.

Somebody, probably not Yogi, said it best. “Stuff happens.”

So now the Central Coast Tigers, 4-3 losers of the actual game, wear the 45 American Wood Bat crown.

The Tigers very nearly won the thing on their own merits anyway. Behind 3-1, the Tigers were down to their last out when Dale Craig drove a base hit to right center field. Pat Crowleyfollowed with a grounder to third baseman Danny Gonzales, but Gonzalez’ throw popped out of first baseman Mark Glennie’s mitt and the Tigers rally continued.

Back-to-back RBI singles by starting pitcher Bill Uelmen and Bob Lord tied the game, 3-3, forcing Easton to bat in the bottom of the frame.

Team Easton Second baseman Pierce Rodninski, who had two hits and drove in one run for the day, led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a base on balls, and scored the game winner when losing pitcher Doug Wolff hit Marty Orozco with the bases loaded.

“They sure made it hard for us,” said Easton manager Dirk Deem. “They battled for nine innings.”

Easton’s Billy Minnis, a University of Florida grad who played two years in the Angels farm system as a shortstop, pitched a complete game, striking out 10 and scattering 10 hits. “I pulled my groin Monday stealing second base,” recalled Minnis. “I was out of gas in the sixth [inning], but we played team baseball, and Billy [Picketts] called a great game. I didn’t shake off one pitch the whole day.”

“We battled to the end to get here, but it just didn’t go our way today,” said Knoph.

They didn’t go their way that day, but they did go their way in December when it was confirmed that Minnus was 43 when he beat the Tigers.

The Tigers ran the playoff gauntlet. They beat the Lehigh Valley Seadogs, 4-2, in a play-in game, and then stopped the top-seeded Tri Valley Nasty Boys, 7-5 to advance to the title game.

Easton upended the second-seeded 3n2 Rangers, 7-1, to face the Tigers for the title.