El Paso Tejanos 8, Tucson Golden Aces 6
By Jason Johnson
Phoenix Municipal Stadium, November 5, 2011 –
After 18 years the El Paso Tejanos finally got a World Series title – and the memory of eight fallen teammates helped them get that 60 Central crown.
The Tejanos beat the Tucson Golden Aces 8-6 in the finals. Jesus Martinez had the game-winning hit – a two-run double in the seventh inning. Jesus Munoz was the winning pitcher.
The team dedicated the tournament to eight former teammates who had died at different times over the past few years.
“It was an exciting game and I’m glad we came out on top,” said Tejanos manager Mike Barraza. “We did this for those guys. We miss them and we played for them.”
Robert Padilla, Jesus Encinas, Jesus Rodriguez and Frank Del Toro were instrumental in giving the Tejanos and early 3-0 lead.
The Golden Aces tied the game with a three-run fifth inning. Catcher Don Holp stroked an RBI double to score Chuy Felix. Marc Sewell and Joe Jimenez added RBI singles.
The Aces took a one-run lead in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Felix, but in the bottom of the inning El Paso exploded for five runs including the two-run double by Martinez – the tournament MVP.
With the Golden Aces down to their last out, sparkplug and starting shortstop Chuck Milo lined a single to centerfield. That was followed by consecutive hits from Byron Carter, Arnold Mares and Ernesto Escala to trim El Paso’s lead to 8-6. With the tying run on first base Barraza made a call to the bullpen and brought in Juan Zaragoza to slam the door for the title.
With the versatile Milo anchoring the defense – he played shortstop, third base, pitcher and even volunteered to catch at different times – the Aces powered their wa to a 5-1 round robin record.
El Paso used great pitching, and emotional fuel from the memory of their fallen teammates, to finish a perfect 6-0.
“They know all of the players,” said Barraza when asked if the new players had known some of the players that passed away. “Some of them play in our league and we’ve got some new players that were able to come in.”
Tucson’s bats stayed hot in the semi-finals against the Scottsdale Scorpions and the Hollywood Stars as their offense carried them to 19-5 and 12-1 victories respectively. Joe Jimenez earned the win against the Scorpions.
In the semi-finals the Tejanos defeated St. Paul 5-2 with Don Wilson earning the win and Francisco Favela getting the save.
It was a tough loss, said Aces manager Mike Morales, but he said the experience was memorable. Morales and Barraza are close friends and have played on other teams together.
“The people, tournament director, umpires and all of the players I’ve played with in the last six years of playing in the MSBL have been phenomenal,” said Morales. “The friends that you make, the spirit that you get from the players is incredible.”
“I’ve been coming for 18 years and this is my first championship,” said Barraza. “My friends would be proud.”
“This was our first time playing for a championship but we’ll be back,” said Morales. “I guarantee it.”