Lumberjacks deny Brew Crew at Desert Classic
By Britten Gerrard, MSBLNational.com
The East Bay Lumberjacks were able to get some revenge against their friends in the Desert Classic in Palm Springs, California on Martin Luther King Day.
After falling 15-2 to the San Jose Brew Crew earlier in round robin play, the Lumberjacks responded by beating their Northern California counterparts 9-5 for the 18 Wooden Bat title.
“It felt fantastic beating them in the finals especially after the way they destroyed us earlier,” Lumberjacks manager Tom Macari said. “We know a lot of the guys on their team since we all play in the same area, so it gives us a little extra bragging rights.”
The East Bay squad opened the game early with two runs in the first inning. After a Mike Taylor solo blast in the third inning, the Lumberjacks came out firing by adding five more runs in the top of the sixth to go up 8-0.
Macari felt it took the team a few innings to figure out San Jose Brew Crew pitcher Casey Ramback, who was semi effective with his changeup.
“Mike’s homer in the third brought us back to life and in the sixth inning we were able to jump on their pitcher by hitting a bunch of singles to blow the game open,” Macari said.
David Whiteside (three RBIs) and Chaz Davis (two runs) were key contributors offensively for East Bay. Melvin Purdue (run, RBI), Henry Robinson (run, RBI), Jake Holt (run, RBI), Jay Almendral (run), Taylor Richardson (run) and Macari (RBI) also stood out in the final.
After falling behind 8-0, the Brew Crew responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning and another run in the eighth but the margin proved to be too difficult to overcome.
Pitcher Rob Ellis was a big reason for the Lumberjacks’ success in the tournament. The southpaw threw 16 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run and picked up the victory in the championship game. Javier Gonzalez earned the save.
“Rob had some filthy breaking stuff, a slider, a decent fast ball and was never phased by pitching in a big game,” Macari said.
Melvin Perdue, Mike Taylor, Javier Gonzalez, Henry Robinson, David Whiteside, and Chasz Davis all hit extremely well, helping the Jacks to an exciting first place finish. After falling in the finals last year, the Lumberjacks finished 4-1 in the Desert Classic.
“We scored a lot of runs in four of our games,” Macari said. “We did a good job of getting early leads and putting pressure on the other teams.”
Despite coming up short in the final, San Jose manager Brian Feduk was proud of his squad.
“Locally we have quite a good rivalry with the Lumberjacks and they played very well,” Feduk said. “We had a blast with all our good friends and enjoyed the competition in a great tournament.”
The Brew Crew was led in the tournament by MVP Hector Esparza, who batted .471 with two home runs, nine RBIs, eight hits and five runs. Jose “Choco” Rodriguez hit .467 with a homer and eight RBIs, while Michael Barnes and Kyle Hartz each batted .500. Eric Anderson, Steve Connolly and Steve McLean had one win apiece on the mound.