2013 35+ Central

‘Humes and Gonzalez do it at the plate and on the bump’

Raleigh Red Sox 8, Long Island Brewers 2

By Chris Errington, Special to MSBLNational.com

JUPITER, Fla. Nov. 10, 2013 — The scouting report on Raleigh pitcher Johnny Gonzalez was clear: score early, because you probably won’t score late.

Long Island’s heavy hitters learned that in the 35 Central Wood Bat title game. Gonzalez retired 23 of the final 26 Long Island hitters to earn co-MVP honors with Chris ‘Meat’ O’Connor, and finished the week allowing only two runs in 24 innings pitched. His dominance helped the Red Sox earn their first Fall Classic tournament title since 2007, and it cemented his legacy in Jupiter.

“As a pitcher, I’ve been told I start slow, so teams try to get me quick,” said Gonzalez, who also earned team MVP honors in helping the Century 21 Cobras to a 2008 Fall Classic championship. “After that, I hit another gear. Today I hit it around the sixth or seventh inning.”

With an overpowering fastball and pinpoint control, Gonzalez spent most of the day in favorable counts against a powerful Brewers’ lineup. That team entered the finals with a 6-1 record, counting two blowout wins in the playoffs, and scored nearly 80 runs. Gonzalez struck out seven hitters just a day after pitching six no-hit innings in a quarterfinal 19-7 blowout of the Venezuela Lanceros. Teammate Mike McCreery threw a complete game in the 9-2 semifinal win over the Long Island Senators. Gonzalez’ week started with a complete game shutout, and ended with a 3-0 record.

“Johnny was huge all week,” Raleigh manager Mike Wilson said. “He was going against a good-hitting team that hit one through 10, so to do that against them was impressive.”

In what was a recurring championship game theme, Raleigh started quickly, scoring a run in the first on Korre Humes’bloop single to center that scored Gonzalez from second and two more in the second on RBI singles from Dom DiDonato and Dan Hiss.

Long Island battled back to pull within 3-2 in the third on a run-scoring error and Billy Pisani’s single to left that plated Will Horan.

But that’s all the Brewers would get.

Gonzalez gained strength, his fastball gained speed, and the swift, powerful bats of the Long Island hitters, so used to scoring runs in bunches, seemed to gain weight. By the time the Brewers threatened again, it was the bottom of the eighth inning and run-scoring hits from Damian McFadden, Paul Regan and Humes, as well as generous defensive play, had pushed the Raleigh lead to a more comfortable 6-2.

“This is the best lineup I’ve been involved in” said Long Island manager Joe DeFrancis. “Give [Gonzalez] credit, he shut it down. He’s the only guy to do it. Defensively this was by far our worst game. I guess we just hit a wall at the wrong time.”

Humes was the hitting star for the Red Sox, going 3-for-5 with three RBI and a double, while, James Harris, McFadden, DiDonato, O’Connor and Gonzalez each added two hits.

The Brewers committed six errors, leading to five unearned runs, behind tough luck starter Scott McMillan, who allowed 12 hits over eight strong innings.