3n2 Rangers 10, Maine Indians 3
|The 3n2 Rangers outdueled the Maine Indians for the MSBL’s 2012 Kickoff Classic 45 title|
By Andrew Anderson and Jeff McGaw
Las Vegas — Arroyo Grande Field 9, March 12, 2012 – The 3n2 Rangers were sitting pretty with a 2-0-1 round robin record and, according to co-manager Laura Doherty, lots of pitching.
Bob Larson tossed a complete game in a 9-2 quarterfinal win over the Central Coast Tigers, and Allan Flax, a junior high school principal, threw a complete game in the 9-5 semifinal win over the San Diego Mariners. That left Marty Sturgeon, waiting in the wings for the finals at the 2012 MSBL Kickoff Classic.
Not so fast.
With the Rangers’ blessing, Sturgeon was playing with Team New Era in the 50-and-over division. The odds that both teams would reach the finals seemed smaller at the start of the tournament, but that’s what happened and an hour before the finals, Doherty and co-manager Glenn Powers learned that their top pitcher was now a top pitcher for a different team.
No worries, said a confident Doherty. About 45 minutes before game she tapped outfielder Jim “JJ” Jackson on the shoulder: “Go out and make everyone forget about Sturgeon,” she said.
|A few warm-ups, and 125-pitches later, Jackson and the Rangers had dispatched the Maine Indians 10-3. The Rangers got timely hits. Seven of their 10 runs were scored with two outs. Down 2-1 in the bottom of the third with two out, the Rangers got RBI singles from Larry Davis’ RBI and tournament MVP Mike Kuchta to pull ahead. The Rangers tacked on two more in the bottom of the fifth when Kuchta stroked a bases loaded, two-run single with two out.
In the seventh Davis had an RBI single, and Jerry Lippold had a two-run single in front of a diving center fielder to pad the lead at 8-2.
The most spectacular scoring event, however, came in the bottom of the eighth when, after an infield hit by Mark Smock, Rex Cox ripped a line drive to the right center gap at Arroyo Grande and legged out an inside-the-park, two-run homer.
The 10-3 final was a little deceiving. While the Rangers
|3n2 Ranger MVP Mike Kuchta||certainly benefitted from timely hitting, their|
pitching and timely defense squelched some several Indian uprisings.
In the top of the second inning the Indians, already with a 2-0 lead, had the bases loaded when Kuchta went back door and picked off an over eager runner who had strayed two far from the bag.
In the top of the seventh the Indians notched two singles and a walk to load the bags with none out. Jackson struck out his pitching opponent Rob Garland on three pitches, and then induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
While the team’s strength in the past has really focused on pitching and defense, co-manager Laura Doherty said the real difference maker this year – and especially this game, was timely hitting. Al Simmons, Davis, Kuchta, and Smock had two hits each in the final while Rex Cox had three hits. Simmons, Davis, Tom Doherty and Jackson spurred the offense in the semifinal win.
Even with the bats, having a guy like Kuchta doesn’t hurt matters. “He shuts down the running game,” Doherty said. “There’s no replacing this guy.”
Indians coach Ed Simmons said the Indians downfall was the the reverse of what propelled the Rangers to victory. “Missed opportunities,” Simmons said. “We did not get the timely hitting.”
The Rangers, comprising players from both coasts, won the 45 Wood Bat central title at the MSBL World Series in 2010.
WP—Jackson. LP—Garland. Leading Hitters – (Maine) Pete Geannelis 2×3; Grandle 2×4.
(3n2) Simmons 2×4, 2R; Davis 2×4, 2 RBI, 2R; Kuchta (MVP) 2×4, 3RBI; Smock 2×4,2R; Cox, 3×4, 2 RBI
2B – Geannelis (MI). HR—Cox (3n2)