Greenwood Ridge Dragons 14, Sacramento Solons 5

By Jeff McGaw

Hohokam Stadium, Nov. 5, 2011 — The Greenwood Ridge Dragons scored seven runs in the third inning to turn a 4-1 deficit into an 8-4 lead and then piled on six more runs to claim a 14-5 win over the Sacramento Solons in the 60 Mountain Division finals.

The championship, played at Hohokam Stadium, the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs, was the Dragons’ fourth MSBL World Series or Fall Classic title in the past five years. Larry Hendrickson earned a complete game win allowing five runs, three earned, on 11 hits.

Solons Manager Lanny Ropke referred to the third as “the inning from hell.” It included three walks and five singles including a two run single by Dragon slugger Mark Adams.

The following inning wasn’t quite as bad – more like the inning from Harrisburg – but the three Dragon runs scored in that frame stretched their lead to 11-4 and sucked any trace of Solon optimism out of the Hohokam Stadium air. That rally included RBI singles by Jesse Bower, Craig Rickeman and Dave Beren.

“If you have that inning from hell it depresses the team,” said Ropke. “When you get that far behind it’s hard to find that spark,” he said.

The Dragons stretched the lead to 12-4 in the fifth inning when Tony Shimetz doubled and scored on Steve Brye’s single. Jim Kenney walked and eventually scored in the sixth inning, and Mark Fess boarded on and error and scored the team’s 14th and final run in the seventh inning.

It was the first time both teams had played in the 60+ age division. The win was particularly sweet for the Dragons who were trounced 18-9 by the Solons in round robin play.

“They came to hit today and they hit very well,” Ropke said.

The Dragons’ 5-1 record earned the team a playoff bye. They defeated the Red Deer Snowbirds, from Alberta, Canada, 10-3 in the semifinals. Dragons starting pitcher Rich Petrillo threw six strong innings. Randy Olson earned a save and Terry Fail drove in five of the Dragons’ 10 runs with two doubles.

Fail, who was named the Dragons’ tournament MVP, had 14 hits and 11 RBI. He doubled as the Dragons closer, finishing four games, allowing no runs in eight innings. Dragons starters Jesse Bower and Larry Grant both picked up wins, with help from reliever Ernie Barten.

The Solons finished 3-2 in round robin play, eked out a 3-2, quarterfinal win over the Lehigh Valley Dodgers, and then outlasted the San Diego Storm 6-4 in the semifinals. Those close games were grueling and took a toll on the team’s stamina, according to Ropke.

Dragon catcher Tony Shimetz had 13 hits and scored 11 runs for the Dragons on the week. Shortstop Mark Fess also had 13 hits. Other leading hitters for the Dragons were Craig Rickeman (.500), Randy Olson (.467), Mark Adams (.444), Allan Green (.429), and Rick Torkelson (.412).

The World Series victory capped a remarkable season for the Dragons who finished with a 38-1 record, including an undefeated season in the Redwood Empire Baseball League 55+ division. They also won the Wine Country Classic Tournament in Santa Rosa and the Carl Flowers Memorial Tournament in Woodland in addition to their World Series title.

The Dragons were started in 2001 by Allan Green, centerfielder and owner of Greenwood Ridge Vineyards in Philo. They have a record of 246-50 since 2004.

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Sacramento Solons 2 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 5 12 4
Greenwood Ridge Dragons 1 0 7 3 1 1 1 0 x 14 18 2

Overfelt, Loseth (3), Ewbank (3), Jackson (4) and LaFever. Hendrickson and Shimetz. W-Hendrickson. L-Overfelt. Top Hitters — (Solons) Lane 3×4; Soto 3×3, RBI. (Dragons) Shimetz 3×4, 2R; Fess 3×5, 2R; Olson 2×3, 2R, 2 RBI; Rickeman 2×3, 2RBI; Adams 2×3, 2 RBI; Be4ren 2×3. 2B — Shimetz; Lane. DP-Solons 3; Dragons 1. LOB — Solons 8; Dragons 13.