Team Victory 3, Tri-Valley 40s 2

By Gabe Chavez

Team Victory, 45+ Wood Bat National Champs.

Maryvale Stadium, Oct. 28, 2011 – It was nearly déjà vu all over again.

Team Victory beat the Boston Wolfpack in the semifinals, then defeated the Tri-Valley 40’s 3-2 to claim 45 Wood National Gold.

Last year Team Victory beat the Wolfpack 9-0 in the semifinals and then outdueled Tri Valley 4-3 to take the crown.

This year it was Chuck Crim who got it done on the mound. Crim tossed 10 innings and had 10 strikeouts to lead Team Victory to its second straight MSBL World Series championship. Darryl Morhardt drove in the game winner in the bottom of the 10th with a walk-off single that scored , Ken Henry.

Tri Valley starter Eddie Delzer, the losing pitcher in last year’s final, held Team Victory to one run and five scattered hits for seven innings, but Team Victory snapped to life in the eighth.

Augie Alonso singled to lead off, advanced on Bob Pone’s bunt single. After reliever Mark Zappelli walked Don Bell to load the bases. Henry hit into a game-tying fielder’s choice.

Tri-Valley beat the number one seeded So Cal Blue Jays, 1-0, and then whipped the West Coast Twins, 8-2, to advance to the championship game. Team Victory beat the Boston Wolfpack 6-5 to return to the finals. They beat the Wolfpack 9-0 in the 2010 semifinals.

Last year Team Victory was down, 3-2, to the same Tri-Valley team and rallied in the eighth inning to claim a 4-3 championship win in the 45 Wood National Division. “That’s a tough way to go home,” said Tri-Valley assistant coach Dave Matthiesen. “But that’s the way our games seem to go [with Team Victory, always close.”

Team Victory scored one run early in the first inning with a leadoff single by Bell, a sacrifice bunt by Henry, and an RBI single by Pokey Sanchez. Tri-Valley answered in the second inning with two runs to take the lead, 2-1, on an RBI double by Mo Terrell to score Mark Volpe, and an infield groundout by Darryl Cooper, knocking in Tony Walker from third base.

From that point on both teams struggled to get runners on base and in scoring position. Starting pitchers, Crim and Delzer, settled in and got stronger after the second inning to turn the game into a pitching duel.

“I’ve played this game since I was seven and never lost the love,” said Crim, who works as the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers AA team. “If I can stay healthy, I’ll keep coming back.” And although he allowed eight hits and four walks, Crim stayed healthy behind solid defense from middle infielders Bell and Ray Alcaraz, who were involved in 15 defensive outs between them. “Bell is the class of the league at short”, regarded Team Victory assistant coach Dave Brunette.

A diving stop by Tri Valley first baseman and coach John Sellick ultimately prevented Team Victory from earning a win in regulation.

“[Game] execution is vital and that’s where we let down”, said Sellick. “But our guys gave a fantastic effort, and that’s why I come down here.” Sellick recalled his team’s effort the day before against the undefeated So Cal Blue Jays. “We were in a game like this yesterday and it went our way, but not today.”

2011 45+ Wood Bat National Division Standings