San Antonio Reds 2, Tri Valley Cardinals 1

The San Antonio Reds, 45+ Wood Bat Central Champs

By Rodney Johnson

Tempe Diablo Stadium, October 28, 2011- You’ve probably heard of Murderers Row, the Gas House Gang and the Whiz Kids. How about the Bonzi Bombers?

A 2-1 victory over the Tri Valley Cardinals in the championship game doesn’t exactly evoke images of bomb blasts, but for the San Antonio Reds, the moniker fits. “We picked up a crazy quirk in the middle of the week,” explained Reds manager Phil Galloway. “Four of our guys went to a grill and did some sake bombs.

The next day they each had at least two hits so the whole team went that night and joined in. We got hot after that and Bonzi became our battle cry.”

Tri Valley took the early lead when John Allen doubled and Greg Reason singled him home in the first inning. Fifty-six year old Pat Bonney settled down after that and retired 17 in a row before J.R. Little walked in the seventh. By that time, the Reds had taken a 2-1 lead. Little was erased on a double play. The only other runner against Bonney came in the ninth when opposing pitcher Scott Blakeway singled. He was stranded at third to end the game.

“Patty is a tough cookie,” praised Galloway. “He nutted it up, got the ball down and just kept going.” By limiting Tri-Valley to just four base runners, Bonney essentially took away the strength of the Cardinals. “We like to run and make things happen,” said Cardinals manager Michael Ching. “We couldn’t get any base runners and so we couldn’t do what we normally do.” Blakeway was nearly as good for the Cardinals. He also pitched a complete game, gave up five hits, struck out seven and allowed only one earned run.

Meanwhile, the Reds beat the Cardinals at their own game. With one out in the fifth, Emilo Gonzalez reached on an error, stole second, went to third on a ground out, and then scored the tying run on a two-out single by Doug Campbell. In the sixth it was a similar sequence that gave the Reds the game winning run. George Freeman walked and stole second. Once again with two outs, David Thrall laced a single to left to bring Freeman home with the game winner.

Clock Strikes 12 for Cinderella

The tournament was a Cinderella story for the Tri Valley Cardinals. They lost their first three games in pool play but won their next three contests to earn a playoff spot. They went on to shock the undefeated Sacramento Dragons, 7-1 to advance to the semifinals. An 8-7 win over Chi Tex sent the Cardinals to the final in their first trip to Arizona. “The tournament brought our guys closer together,” said Ching. “I think that’s really important because it will carry over to our season in Tri Valley next year.”

San Antonio posted a 4-2 record in pool play with their pitchers recording five compete games including two by Dave Schulze. In the playoffs the Reds blitzed the Las Vegas Mavericks, 15-3 and edged the Long Island Panthers 5-4 to reach the finale. It was the second championship game and first title for the Reds in their four tournament appearances. This year’s tournament roster consisted of players from the two best teams in their San Antonio league—the Reds and the Astros. According to Coach Galloway, we can expect to see more of the Bonzi Bombers in Arizona next fall.

2011 3n2 Sports – 45+ Wood/Central Standings

This division sponsored by 3n2 Sports, official shoes of the MSBL