|The Sacramento Solons claimed 65 Wood Bat American gold Oct. 27 by beating the Austin, Tx.-based 65 Express|
Sacramento Solons 24, 65 Express 10
By Jeff McGaw, MSBLNational.com
Goodyear Stadium, Oct. 27, 2012 – The Sacramento Solons have won rings before, and that never gets old players say, but the best part of waking up in Arizona is sharing another day on the ball field with your buddies.
Granted, playing the camaraderie card is a little bit easier when you have more rings than fingers, like Lanny Ropke – 14 — but the old saying is true, most players say: it’s about the journey.
The Solons journey through the 65 American division ended in a two touchdown win over the 65 Express from Austin Texas – 24-10.
For the record, the Solons amassed 27 hits and scored in every single inning. The scoring began with a six run tremor in the first inning, and continued with five-run aftershocks in the fourth and eighth innings.
The victory capped a 4-1 round robin record that included a 14-13 loss to the Rhode Island Salty Dogs, and a 16-3 pepper-spraying of the Express. Ropke and teammate Gary Ewbank were named as tournament co-MVP’s. Ropke capped a solid offensive tournament by going 4-for-6 with four RBI and four runs scored, and two stolen base.
Co-MVP Gary Ewbank pitched 18 innings during the week, caught seven innings, played flawless shortstop, and made a supremely impressive catch on a line drive in the finals, according to manager Irv Scott. Ray Newman was 4-for-6 with a double and three RBI, and Nick Pashulka was 3-for-4 with a triple and five runs scored.
The Solons steam rolled the Red Deer Legends 23-6 in the playoffs. Ropke was 3-for-4 with two doubles, four RBI and three runs scored. Ron Williams started. Scott entered in the fourth and Chuck Williams closed it out after entering in the sixth inning.
The 65 Express defeated the Salty Dogs 6-5 to punch their ticket to the finals. Like a NASCAR speedster that runs dry of fuel before the finish line, the 65 Express too simply ran out of gas. “Our pitching was totally gassed,” said Manager Herb Kneisley. Express pitchers turned in five complete games in the tournament. Van Summers threw two, and Eddie Harmon, Dick Woodward, and Sam Park threw one each.
The Express bats were fine. They banged out a he-manly 16 hits and scored 10 runs – easily enough runs to win all but two of their tournament games – the two against the Solons. Park hit a whopping .647 for the week, while Harmon batted .542. Kneisley did more than carry a clip board. He hit .455 while Gilbert Cortez hit .444. The Express went into the finals with only 13 of their 17 players as several had to leave early because of Hurricane Sandy.
Kneisley was making his seventh trip to the series and his first to the 65-and-over division. Despite the finisah, he said “we had a blast.”
More than the rings and trophies, Scott said the Solons’ main attraction is the camaraderie.
“We come down and continue to play not only because we love the game and want to honor it but because we have true feelings for each other,” he said. “The comaraderie is amazing. The laughter in the dugout, at practice and during games is nonstop. We look forward each year to starting practice around March and have as much fun at coffee after practice as during the practice itself. Over the last 20 years we have won nine or ten championships in the 50s, 55s, 60s and 65s. The championships are great but the friendships and memories are greater.