The Athletics 8, LA Skunks 4

By Jason Johnson, MSBLNational.com

Mesa Hohokam Park, October 28, 2012 – The MSBL’s version of Family Feud came to Hohokam Park in the form of the Father/Son American championship game – and when the dust settle The Athletics had beaten the LA Skunks 8-4 behind 15 hits and a strong defensive performance.

“It was a close game,” said Athletics manager Bob Sherwin. “We kept stranding runners and when we calmed down a little bit we broke it open in the end.”

Neither team had trouble scoring in the early innings. An RBI single by Skunks manager Ray Bunch capped a three run fourth inning putting the visitors ahead 4-2, but their lead didn’t last long. The Athletics countered with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the fourth. Carlos Claudio Jr. dealt the big blow in the inning, a two run single.

With the Athletics leading 5-4 heading into the late innings the game remained tense. Tensions bubbled to the surface when an athletic runner slid hard into second base to break up a possible double play. “It was a well-contested game,” said Skunks manager Bunch. “It was pretty heated but well-played on both sides.”

The passion that players have for the Father-Son division was on display all day. Families are often spread throughout the country, and many players say the MSBL’s Father/Son division is a great opportunity for everyone to get together and spend quality time. For some of the Athletics that included inter-generational foot races from first to second base while onlookers cheered them on.

“Family is the most important aspect of being here,” said Athletics manager Sherwin who resides in California while his son, Rob Sherwin, lives in Texas. “If my son wasn’t here I wouldn’t be doing this. As we won the game, going out there and getting a hug from him, that’s what it’s all about.”

For the Skunks, it was extremely exciting for 71-year old Lou Zorn to play with his son Steve Zorn. Their youngest player at 20-years old is Derek Neely giving the Skunks a range of 51 years between their oldest and youngest players.

“It’s quite an age disparity but we had just a fantastic time,” said manager Bunch.

The Athletics suffered a few cancellations from key players before the tournament started but since they carried 30 players on their roster they felt their depth was a big part of why they were playing in the championship.

“We kind of had to fill in the gaps and hope we were able to pull it together and we were able to do that,” said Sherwin.

In their first year playing in this tournament the Skunks scratched their way to a 1-3 record in pool play. Manager Bunch said that it was a learning experience for them but playing with his son was a blast.

The Skunks got hot in the playoff defeating the Capital City Cardinals 10-6 and then edging out defending champion Maine Diamond Dogs 9-8 to get to the title game.

The Athletics cruised to a 4-0 record in pool play. They defeated the Pro Bat Yankees 10-1 in the semifinals behind the arm of father pitcher Danny “The Beast” Pawelek. Pawelek has been a workhorse for the Athletics all year including throwing a no-hitter for the team in a previous tournament this season.