60 Wood Bat Mountain champion LA Athletics

Danny “The Beast’ Pawelek pitches LA to victory

LA Athletics 4, Lehigh Valley Moondogs 2

By Jason Johnson, MSBLNational.comn

Mesa Hohokam Park, November 3, 2012 – Superstorm Sandy left the Lehigh Valley Moondogs knowing they had adversity waiting for them when they returned home. But at least for a few hours they could put that aside as they vied for the championship in the serenity of Mesa Hohokam Park.

In a very tight ballgame the LA Athletics edged out the Moondogs 4-2 on Sunday afternoon behind a strong pitching performance from starting pitcher Danny “The Beast” Pawelek. Pawelek pitched eight scoreless innings before the Moondogs rallied for two runs in the ninth inning.

“It was a low-scoring game and they never quit. I’ve got to give them credit,” said Athletics manager Bob Sherwin. “They’re a really good team.”

Lehigh Valley sits in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania and was hit hard by superstorm Sandy leaving their families without power for three days and knocking down trees throughout the area. Some of the Moondogs players thought about flying home after the storm but their families talked them into staying in Arizona because they knew how much playing in the MSBL World Series meant to this team.

“We’ve had a postgame prayer after every game,” said Moondogs co-manager Turk Starini. “We give thanks to mighty God for giving us the ability to play ball and the support for all of our family and friends to survive this. We feel honored and blessed being here.”

Athletics pitcher Pawelek was helped out by a stellar defensive performances behind him, including a diving play in the first inning by centerfielder Rick Held robbing Bob Fatzinger of a hit.

“We played great defense,” said Sherwin. “We gave Held co-MVP because we wouldn’t be here without him in centerfield. He made some great plays.”

Moondogs starting pitcher Barry Peterman pitched three scoreless innings to start the game but ran into trouble in the fourth when his defense made a couple of errors while allowing three hits, including RBI singles by Mike Glenn and Daniel Hamilos. Jack Charles added a sacrifice fly to drive in the third run of the inning.

The Athletics added a run in the eighth inning when Sherwin scored capitalizing on a Moondog error giving them a 4-0 lead.

In the ninth inning the Moondogs rallied by loading the bases when Tom Czysz singled, Starniri was hit by a pitch and Tony Spidale singled. Dennis Ritter drove in a run when he grounded into a fielder’s choice and pinch runner Tony Huertas scored on a wild pitch. Pawelek was able to get out of the jam getting the next batter to ground out to end the game.

Making the trip out for the Moondogs was 83-year old scorekeeper Gordon Santee who played until he was about 70. Santee has been with the Moondogs for 19 years and after being hospitalized the week before the tournament there was concern that he wasn’t going to make it out to Arizona this year.

“He keeps us in line,” said Moondogs co-manager Dick Prue. “He’s tough. If you get a base hit from him you have to earn it. Gordy’s a good guy.”

The Moondogs scratched their way to a 3-2 record in pool play while the Athletics earned a 4-1 record.

The Moondogs defeated the San Antonio Rangers in the semifinals 5-1 behind the arm of starting pitcher Dennis Kinney.

In playoff action the Athletics defeated last year’s Central champion, the El Paso Tejanos, 15-2 with starting pitcher Jon Scheuerman earning a complete game victory.