Jose Pena of the Arizona Angels drives one against the Nassau/MSL All-stars

Arizona Angels 13, Nassau / MSL All-stars 8
By Jeff McGaw,

Maryvale Baseball Park, Oc.t 21, 2012 — You can’t defend a walks, hit batters, and, guys like Jose Pena – and that pretty much meant that the Nassau / MSL All Stars were defenseless in the eighth inning of their 13-8 championship game loss to the Arizona Angels.

Pena, a scrappy, tenacious leadoff man with two doubles and three RBI to his credit already, singled off of reliever Nate Feldman to start the decisive, five-run eighth inning.

Feldman then issued consecutive walks to Luis Santos, Robert Steel, and Manny Birruete to push Pena across and give the Angels a 9-8 lead. Feldman then hit pitcher Andy Rocha to push across another run. Manager and left fielder Roberto Ramos lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to give the Angels an 11-8 lead. Adrian Cabrera stroked an RBI single and, following a strikeout, Adrian Rocha singled in a run to cap the five run rally.

Still six outs away from a title, some of the Angel fans tempted fate by singing “we are the champions,” but on this day the Baseball Gods would not grant the All Stars comeback wishes. In fact, it almost appeared that the Gods were on the Angels’ side.

Up 13-8, Rocha walked catcher Dean Glanzman to start the bottom of the eighth inning, but the very next hitter, Anthony Orsano, lined a rocket to Santos at short who quickly fired a strike to first base to double-up Glanzman.

Jose Lebron singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, but Chris Garcia hit a grounder toward second base that turned into an easy 6-3 double play for Santos at shortstop.

Arizona Angel pitcher Andy Rocha

Santos, 33, was the source of some controversy. All Star coach Larry Kolcz claimed he was a former pro and he was right. In fact, Santos spent three years in rookie and Single-A ball for the Diamondbacks from 1999 to 2001, but was granted an exemption so that he could join his regular teammates for the World Series. All exemptions were previously announced and agreed to by all teams.

Ironically, Santos was hitless on the day but walked twice and scored both times.

“They should have worried more about the game and less about him,” Ramos said after the game.

The Allstars crushed the Angels twice in previous round robin meetings 15-2, and 17-8. The Angels were caught with two unregistered players in the lineup in one of those games, but no penalties were handed down because they lost the game anyway.

The All Stars scored three times in the third inning to take the lead. Glanzman’s two-run double provided most of the lift. Jacob Pacheco’s two run single in the fifth was the big blow in the All Star’s three-run fifth inning.

The Angels scored five in the fourth inning on two hits, two walks, and a hit batter. In fact, five of the seven walks issued by the Allstars scored in the game, and both of the hit batters scored.

The All Stars were unbeaten in five round robin games. They beat the Chicago Cyclones 10-1 to advance to the finals with Mickey Martin earning the win. The Angels were 3-2 in round robin play and squeaked out a 9-8 playoff win over the Chicago Redhawks to get to the finals.

“It was a hard-fought game with good hitters,” said Rocha, 24, a Glendale Community College and Grand Canyon University baseball alumni. “We knew it was going to be an offensive game, a high scoring game.”

Rocha was named the tournament MVP. In addition to the complete game in the finals, he closed out the semifinal and pitched the previous Wednesday. “He’s just a horse,” Ramos said.

18 Metal Bat Central champions Arizona Angels
18 Metal Bat Central runners-up Nassau MSL All-stars