Visitors feel right at home

Twin City Cardinals 4, Arizona Angels 3

By Rodney Johnson,

Maryvale Stadium, October 28, 2012- Home field advantage can mean everything sometimes, but in an ironic twist at Phoenix’s Maryvale Baseball Park, the local Arizona Angels found themselves in the visitors dugout against the Twin City Cardinals from Minnesota.

The home team edge is just what the Cardinals needed in their 4-3 win over the hometown kids.

Cardinal slugger Blake Kloeckner led of the bottom of the tenth with a single and one out later, he scored from first on a walk-off, RBI double by Troy Peterson.

“We always like being the home team, and it paid off for us in the end,” concluded Twin City Manager John Remakel.

It might have turned out differently but for one rough inning, said Angels’ Manager Ricardo Castro. “We kind of gave it away,” he said referring to the pair of Angel errors that helped Twin Cities to three unearned runs in the fifth.

The Angels battled back to tie the game in the eighth, but could muster no offense beyond that point.

The Angels finished round robin play with a 3-2 record. Several Angels played on the 18 Central Angels team that won a ring a week earlier, and others were planning to play the following week in the 35-and-over division.

“As a local team, we have the opportunity to play all three weeks here,” explained Castro, adding that the Angels hoped to earn three rings. Things seemed to be going according to plan as the Angels jumped out on top on an RBI single by Alfredo Zazueta in the first inning. Zazueta seemed intent on making his hit hold up as he blanked the Cardinals from the mound through four innings.

Twin City took advantage of two errors in the fifth inning and scored three runs. The Angels nearly regained the lead in the eighth when Jose Pena scored on a single by Manuel Birraete, but Andy Rocha tried to score behind him was out at the plate.

“That was the play of the game,” Remakel said. “It was a microcosm of the way we played throughout the tournament. We have just played incredible defense all the way through.”

The throw that saved the game came on a relay from center fielder Matt Stengel to shortstop Hans Haggernas, and on to catcher Michael Lewis who applied the tag. Rocha broke a finger on the play as he tried to reach for the plate on a head-first slide.

The Cardinals dodged another bullet in the tenth by turning an inning-ending double play.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul-based team came a long way to compete for MABL gold. “It’s not easy putting together a team to come out here (Phoenix) for the tournament,” said Remakel. “It’s expensive with the travel and guys have to get time off of work, so it means a lot to us to make it this far.”

The Cardinals, 4-1 in pool play, leveled the Des Moines Astros 16-7 and the Albuquerque Cyclones 12-2 in the playoffs to advance to the final. Starter Jason Buitenhius pitched in and out of trouble as he allowed two runs in 5-and-two-thirds innings while walking eight. He was relived by Isaac Banda who came in with the bases loaded in the sixth but got Ryan Martinez to ground out to end the inning. Banda went the final 5.1 innings and allowed just one run to earn the win.