Halo Baseball Club 5, Seattle Blues 4

By Rodney Johnson

Halo Baseball Club, 45+ Wood Bat Cactus Division Champs

Scottsdale Stadium, October 28, 2011— Special–Saturday night special; midnight special; special edition; blue plate special. Sometimes it seems that this overused word has lost its impact. But the gleam in Gaston Escudero’s eyes and the sincerity in his voice left no doubt as to his meaning.

“This is a special group of men,” said the Halo manager. “We are a really tight group. It is important to me to play with individuals of high character, and that’s what everyone on this team has.” For the Halo, their third try in a championship game was, if nothing else, special.

Steve Moritz entered the game in the seventh inning with his team trailing 3-2. Over the final three frames, Moritz allowed just one base runner, a two out walk in the ninth. But that’s not all. For an encore he drove in the game’s winning run with a single in the eighth as the Halo prevailed 4-3. Moritz took home the tournament MVP t-shirt for his efforts.

The Halo had jumped out front with single runs in the first and third innings as starting pitcher Gary Spykerman held Seattle in check through four scoreless frames. The Blues got on the board with a two-out RBI single from Tom Hutchinson in the fifth. The following inning, Kevin Steagall singled home the tying run and the Blues took the lead when Larry Barlow scored on an infield ground out.

Three hits and an error helped the Halo to score twice in the eighth and recapture the lead. That proved to be enough for Moritz who pitched three hitless innings while walking one and striking out four to earn the win.

Steagall turned in an inspired performance for the Blues that just fell short. He had given up just two runs through seven innings and had his team in a position to win. But after giving up a hit, committing an error and allowing a sacrifice fly in the eighth, Steagall gave way to the bullpen. Mortiz sealed the blues fate with the game winning hit.

The Blues have been coming to this tournament since 1994 and this was the first year that they had ever won a playoff game. “We’ve been coming a long time so it was great to finally get this far,” said Blues manager Jeff Naranjo. “We really played a lot of nail bitters this week which was a lot of fun.” After going 4-1-1 in pool play, Seattle beat the Columbus Dodgers 4-3 and the Bay Area Giants 7-3 to reach the finals. Along the way they got an inside-the-park grand slam from Larry Barlow. James Barquist was the team’s iron man as he went behind the plate to catch eight of the team’s nine games.

The Halo Baseball Club won their division with a 5-1 record in pool play. In the playoffs they beat the South Bay Zephyrs 5-3 and then outlasted the Des Moines Bruins 7-6. Escudero cites the club’s mound work from aces Moritz, Spykerman, Matt Shults and Jerry Hirsch as the horses that pulled the cart to the title.

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Seattle Blues 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 3 9 1
Halo Baseball Club 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 x 4 12 0

Steagall, Gibson(8) and Barquist. Spykerman, Moritz (7) and Ireland. W- Moritz. L- Steagall

Leading Hitters- (Seattle) Hutchinson 2×4, RBI; Barquist 2×3; (Halo) Lieberman 2×4, Aboites 3×3, R; Ireland 2 RBI. SAC-Copeland (SEA); Pearce (SEA); Keane (SEA); Shults (H); Jensen (H).

SB- Lieberman (H); Hayes (H). DP- Seattle 1. LOB- Seattle 9; Halos BB Club 10. TOG: 2:21

2011 45+ Wood Bat Cactus Division 1 Standings

2011 45+ Wood Bat Cactus Division 2 Standings