East Coast Cardinals 8, East Coast All Stars 1
|The EC Cardinals, managed by David Hash, claimed the 30-and-over crown at the 2012 Holiday Classic|
By Chris Errington, MSBL On-Line
Kissimmee, Fla. – The East Coast Cardinals are no stranger to winning. In the past 12 months the team compiled a 43-3 record. They won the Fall Classic in 2011 and 2008, they own five titles from the Charlottesville Labor Day Classic – most recently 2011 – which they host, and in 2011 they owned the Chesapeake Columbus Day regional. “It’s been an unbelievable ride the last 12 months,” said manager David Hash.
|But the Holiday Classic at Disney, played at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla., was a competitive Twilight Zone – a other-worldy place where this crown-mongering group of players couldn’t win the big one. In 2010, playing as the 3n2 Rangers, and again in 2011 playing as the EC Rangers, the team got knocked out in the semifinals — but that streak ended in 2012.|
|Utilizing a dominating performance from former major league pitcher Rusty Meacham and an MVP-effort from Craig Corbett, the Cardinals capped an undefeated week by routing the East Coast All Stars in the 30-over championship game, 8-1.|
“We’d had some problems winning here, but now we finally got our first [championship],” Hash said. “We’ve got some great players who go out and consistently do their job. When you’ve got guys like Rusty and Craig, it makes my job a lot easier.”Meacham, who pitched for five teams during an eight-year major league career that ended in 2001, tossed eight innings of six-hit ball, allowing only a single run with two outs in the eighth. Eric Holtz’s bloop single to left-center that scored Jose Acuna was the only blemish on an otherwise flawless pitching performance.
“I thought I pitched well, but left a few balls up that I’m not happy with,” said Meacham, who compiled a career 23-17 record and a 4.43 ERA mostly as a reliever with Detroit, Kansas City, Seattle, Houston and Tampa Bay. “The guys got me some early runs and that always makes my job on the mound easier, because then all I have to do is go out and execute my game plan.”
The late run hardly mattered, as the Cardinals, who finished round-robin play 3-0, then used Rich Ropp’s run-scoring, sixth-inning double to give them a 6-5 lead in an eventual 8-5 win over the Dade Tigers in the playoffs, scored a trio of runs in the third and fourth innings to blow open a close game. Ropp’s single scored Rey Gallagher, before Larry Hingle plated both Ropp and Jason Torres with another one-out single to make the score 4-0.
An inning later, thoughts of an All Stars’ comeback were firmly put to rest.
Mark Landers scored on an infield error, Corbett, who joined Landers in finishing the championship game 3-for-3, drove home Cory Huston with a single and Gallagher scored on another Torres single to push the lead to 7-0 and effectively end the game.
Corbett, who joined the Cardinals in 2008 at a time when the team was “running low of players,” has since been a mainstay in the heart of the team’s batting order and was the catalyst in its run to its first title in three appearances at the ESPN complex — the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.
“Larry’s another manager on the field,” Hash said. “He’s solid day in and day out. This was just another typical outstanding performance on his part.”
From there, it was a matter of Meacham continually retiring All Stars’ hitters. He didn’t allow more than one hit in an inning through the first seven and no runner reached past second base until Holtz’s run-scoring single helped the All Stars, who were 3-1 in round-robin play before edging the Birmingham Twins 1-0, behind Jason Benson’s four-hit, nine strikeout playoff performance, avert the shutout.
“Rusty was outstanding and the entire team went out and executed well,” Hash said. “Now that we’ve won our first [title] here, I’m sure the guys are hungry for more. We never get tired of winning.”
|EC All Stars||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||–||1||6||0|
WP – Rusty Meacham (1-0); LP – Dave Scaringe (0-1). Hitting – (AS) Silver 2B; Acuna 2B, R; Holtz 1×3, RBI. (C) Gallagher 1×4, 2 R; Corbett 3×3, RBI; Torres 2×4, R, RBI; Hingle 1×4, 2 RBI; Lidle 2×4, R; Landers 3×3, R, SB.