Arizona East Valley Yankees 4, NorCal Diablos 3
By Doug Haller, MSBLNational.com
When it was over, as the Arizona East Valley Yankees celebrated at Tempe Diablo Stadium, manager Jake Dorame had to fight back tears.
“From the very beginning, we have an 18-man roster, and I told them,” he said. “One way or another, it might be with your arm, it might be with your bat, it might be with your legs, you’re going to play a part in this team winning a championship. Our goal from the beginning was to win a division championship, a playoff championship and a World Series, and we did all three.”
David Hostetter pitched seven strong innings, scattering four hits, leading the Yankees to a 4-3 win over the NorCal Diablos in the 35-central wood bat championship.
It wasn’t without drama. Trailing by two runs in the ninth, the Diablos came to life against Arizona East Valley closer Joe Wieleba. After Thomas Schaffer led off with a single, Javier Gonzalez smoked a shot down the third-base line.
Steve Flores, however, was ready. Inching toward the baseline before the pitch, Flores dived to his right, fielded the ball cleanly, got up and threw to second for the force out. NorCal went on to score once in the inning, but Flores’ play likely saved one run, maybe more.
“There were a couple times when we couldn’t hit the big hit when we needed it,” NorCal manager Chili McLeod said. “And then in the ninth, I thought we got one, but the third baseman made a heck of a play.”
Said Flores: “As soon as he hit it, I knew I had to dive. I thought we had a chance at a double play, but I couldn’t get it out of my glove fast enough.”
Hostetter put the Yankees in position to win. Relying mostly on a fastball and curve, he held the Diablos in check for most of the contest. After giving up two runs (one unearned) in the second, he settled into a groove, striking out eight.
“He’s our most powerful pitcher,” Dorame said. “And when he’s on – it’s game over. He’s special.”
Hostetter, 35, said it was a great way to end his career. In college, he played in a junior-college World Series and he said this experience compared.
“I gave everything I had,” said Hostetter , who, along with his wife, is expecting a baby boy to arrive soon. “Left everything on the field.
The Yankees finished 5-1 in pool play, losing only to the SoCal Titans. The Diablos also finished 5-1. They had some pitching issues in the finals. McLeod started and pitched five innings, allowing four hits and three runs. The plan was to go from McLeod, who specializes in off-speed pitches, to Sean Erickson, who throws harder.
But Erickson lasted just two hitters, forced to leave because of a sore back. Chondelle Jones took over, pitching the final three innings, even though he had pitched a complete game the day before.
“That hurt us a little,” McLeod said.