The So-Cal Quakes, 2012 Father-Son Central Champions
SoCal Quakes 6, San Antonio Lonestars 3
By Jason Johnson, MSBLNational.com
Mesa Hohokam Park, October 28, 2012 – Inspiration can come in a lot of forms in baseball from a remarkably athletic diving catch to something far more pedestrian – like a guy who scores on an ordinary sacrifice fly.
In their fourth come from behind victory of the tournament the SoCal Quakes were able to edge out the San Antonio Lonestars in the late innings for a 6-3 victory in the Father/Son Central championship game on Sunday at Mesa Hohokam Park. At least some of the Quakes’ resiliency can be attributed to inspiring presence of the team’s own version of Rudy — Joe Annunziato.
Having not played baseball for 30 years, Annunziato made the trip to Arizona with his sons to play in MSBL’s father/son division. During a game in pool play in which the Quakes were ahead 17-0 manager John Love called on Annunziato. After reaching safely he found himself on third base with less than two outs when a Quakes player hit a fly ball to the outfield.
“In his excitement he tagged up and scored,” laughed Love. “He’s so excited to be out here that his excitement overwhelmed him. The other team understood when they saw his face and how excited he was.”
Throughout the tournament the Quakes had their backs to the wall but were able to pull out four come from behind wins. They overcame a 10-4 deficit with two outs in the ninth inning of a quarterfinal game. They overcame a 6-0 in the semifinals, and they mounted a late-inning rally in the championship game to overcome a two-run deficit.
“We’ve been down in the playoffs and had to battle back from some things so we didn’t get in a panic,” said Love.
Starting pitchers Randy Jackson (Lonestars) and Frank Patino (Quakes) were stellar all afternoon but the Lonestars were finally able to break the scoreless tie in the top of the seventh inning on a two-run single by Garrett Munoz.
“It was a tight, tight ballgame,” said Lonestars manager Randy Jackson. “As often happens, one team has the big inning and capitalizes on mistakes and today it was the SoCal Quakes team.”
The Quakes responded by cutting the deficit in half in the bottom of the seventh inning when leadoff hitter Mike Annunziato hit an RBI single to drive in Madison Hildenbrandt who had tripled as the previous batter.
In the top of the eighth inning the Lonestars manufactured a run when Reid Jackson walked, stole second and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice. But the Quakes had another magical rally left up their sleeve.
Rudy Melendez hit the game-tying single for the Quakes in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive in Aaron Henry. The next batter, Riley Manquen, drove in two runs with a double to centerfield giving the Quakes a two-run lead. They would add another insurance run and Melendez slammed the door in the ninth inning to seal their first championship.
“We knew at this stage of the tournament that we needed to reach down deep to try to win this and we did,” said Love. “It was a great experience for all of us and I’m a proud dad.”
Throughout the tournament the depth of the Lonestars 12-man roster was tested, but they battled to a 4-0 record. The Quakes also played to a 4-0 record in pool play. They defeated the Tri-Valley Giants 6-3 behind the arms of Phil Galloway and Reid Jackson.
A major turning point in the tournament for the Quakes was its 11-10 win over the Seattle Baseball Club. In arguably the most amazing comeback in the history of the father-son tournament, the Quakes were down 10-4 with two outs in the ninth inning against the Elk Grove Baseball Club. Almost as impressive, they battled back from an early, 6-0 deficit to beat Seattle Baseball Club 10-9. Frank Patino earned the win an Rudy Melendez notched the save.