Matanzas won three opens at 35’s
Ageless So Cal beats Utah 8-6 for the Over-45 title
By Jeff McGaw, MSBLNational.com
LAS VEGAS, May 27, 2013 – Three years after their previous Las Vegas Open title, Mario Diaz’ So Cal Matanzas squad once again ascended to the gold medal stand at the 2013 tournament with an 8-6 win over a very tough Utah Pirates team.
The win avenged a 4-3 loss to Utah in the semifinals of the Desert Classic in Palm Springs in January.
Matanzas is no stranger to first place. It won three Vegas Open titles in a row in the 35-and-over division from 2008-2010. This time they had to be Utah’s ironman Danny Pawelek. The 60-something Pawelek had already thrown 11 tournament innings prior to the finals.
Dave Rice threw eight-and-a-third innings for the win. Eddie Mercado, the winning pitcher in the semifinal game, earned a save. Pawelek lasted five innings and took the loss. Vic Valdez pitched the final three innings.
The Matanzas pulled ahead in the fifth inning with a little help from Lady Luck. Fred Russell lead off with a booming ground rule double to right field, Mike Alcala’s base hit to right center was nearly robbed by a diving right fielder, but landed safely allowing Russell to score to make it 4-2. Raul Verdecia hard grounder to second took a bad hop and jumped into right field. A passed ball scored Alcala, and hits by Roger Hill and Kevin Townsend made it 5-4 Matanzas.
Robert Mendoza’s sixth inning double and a single by Michael Alcala helped Matanzas stretch the lead to 7-4. Eric Orue’s RBI single capped the scoring in the eight to make it 8-6.
Rice allowed four runs in the first three innings, and then settled in allowing just two more the rest of the way to pave the way for Mercado’s save.
Matanzas was an 8-2 victor when the teams met earlier in the tournament. They finished undefeated in three round robin games, then steamrolled the Cannacord Combines from Canada 19-5 in the semifinal. Utah, 2-1 in round robin play, downed the South Bay Zephyrs 6-2 in the semifinals with Neil Warner earning a complete-game win. Dave Carter led all Pirate hitters on the tournament with a .600 average.