“Skeens shakes off injury and saves day”
San Antonio Titans 6, Scottsdale’s Finest 5
By Jeff McGaw, MSBL National
Tempe Diablo Complex Field 5 – It was a Kirk Gibson moment if there ever was one.
Kelly Skeens, the offensive hammer for the San Antonio Titans for as long as anyone can remember, the team’s 2011 World Series MVP, and its spiritual leader, had not batted since the second game of the tournament when he threw his back out on a swing.
When he returned as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning of the championship game, with two outs and the go-ahead run on second, he made it count.
Wincing in pain on a prior pitch, Skeens drove Rich Capparrelli’s offering deep to the right center gap for a standup double easily scoring pinch-runner Jerry Burrola with the go-ahead run.
Titan’s reliever and tournament co-MVP Al Mow turned in a four-up-three-down ninth to ice the win.
The Titans were behind most of the game, but there was no panic. “We’ve been out here for eight years and this is our sixth championship game,” Titan manager Doug Rosinisaid. “So we don’t ever panic….I’m not going to say it wasn’t tense, but we knew what we had to do and we knew we could do it. That’s what this group does. ”
San Antonio scored twice in the first on an RBI single byGeorge Kassis and an RBI fielder’s choice by Don Atkins. They struck for two more in the second when Rosini led off with a double, moved to third on a bunt single by Manny Sosa, and then scored on an RBI single from Shawn Joseph and a sacrifice fly from Jaime Luna.
Capparrelli silenced the Titans for the next five innings.
After Jamie Sensabaugh’s RBI single made it 4-1 in the fourth, Scottsdale strung together five singles and a walk in the fifth to take a 5-4 lead. Adam Hydzu, Dirk Thompson, Sensabaughand Cory Houston all had RBI singles in the rally.
With Scottsdale just six outs away from a ring, Titan slugger Brandon Palomo led off bottom of the eighth with a double and scored on Kassis’ single setting the stage for Skeens’ heroics.
Scottsdale finished round robin play with a 5-1 overall record. They beat the powerful San Antonio Bombers 7-3 in the semifinals. Hydzu, who played with the Pirates, Boston in 2004, the Padres, and later the Rangers in a seven year career, and who had not pitched since 1998 when he threw some throw-away innings for the AAA Tucson Sidewinders, got the win.
“We battled,” Scottsdale manager Bob Parness explained. “We came from down 4-0 and got the lead against a very good pitcher. They came back with a crafty lefty (Mow) who shut us down. My hat is off to them. They deserved to win today. They were the better team.”
Cory Houston, Charlie Poe, and Dirk Thompson led the offense for Scottsdale throughout the week. Shortstop Ricky Parra and second baseman Dirk Thompson helped turn 16 double plays and a triple play during the week.
San Antonio finished the tournament undefeated including a 6-0 round robin record. Amazingly, Al Mow and co-MVP Willie Martinezhad three wins each. The Titans powered their way past Team New Era 9-0 with Mow tossing a five hit, complete-game shutout. Palomo, Kassis and Luna led the offense.
“This was one of those years when everybody stepped up at different times,” said Rosini.