Downey Angel’s August Shuts Down St. Thomas in November

Downey Angels 8, St. Thomas Hurricanes 3

By Russ Christ, special to MSBL National

Tempe Diablo Stadium, Nov. 2, 2013 — It’s a universally recognized truth: Good pitching usually beats good hitting, especially when the 45-year-old pitcher is motivated.

The old maxim was tested when the St. Thomas Hurricanes, a strong hitting club, faced off against the Downey Angels and their starting pitcher Mike August on a sunny, 80-degree day at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

August and the Angels came out on top.

Already leading 3-1, the Downey Angels exploded for five runs to build a seven-run lead in the sixth inning, and August did the rest by holding off the St. Thomas Hurricanes 8-3 in the 45 plus Cactus Division finals.

Earl German, the tournament MVP, spearheaded the Angels offense, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI.

August, Downey’s selfless, right-hander hurler, pitched eight innings, scattered seven hits, struck out one and allowed three earned runs to earn the win. “I gave it everything I had,” August said. “But I started losing my front leg at the end. The sun was tough.”

The Hurricanes were led by Steve Parris, who was 2-for-4 with a double, and Tony Cruz who added three hits, including a triple. But against August, the burly 45-year-old, they got little help from their teammates.

Both St. Thomas, representing the Virgin Islands, and Downey, a team comprised of players from Southern California and six men from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, were optimistic prior to the first pitch.

Reggie Wilkerson, manager of the Hurricanes, a team that won seven of its 10 games this week, indicated as much. “Our time here has been very good,” Wilkerson said. “It’s funny. We won all the double headers and lost the single games. We’re just out here playing for the pride of the Virgin Islands. I had a feeling we’d be playing for the championship.”

On Saturday, Wilkerson tapped southpaw Cruz Sototo face August. Cruz lasted until the fifth inning, allowing only two runs.

But the Angels, 8-1 in the tournament counting the finals, exploded for five hits in the sixth inning off two St. Thomas relievers. Elseo Gonzalez doubled to start the rally.Then, two-run doubles by Rodrigo Rodriguez and Jose Ibarra gave August some room to breathe. German belted doubles in the fifth and seventh and had a single in the fourth to earn his MVP award.

The game, though, seemed to revolve around the polite, selfless Texan.

August, who runs an elite baseball academy and also owns a roofing company in Arlington, ultimately threw over 100 pitches in the championship game. Jose Magollon pitched the ninth to finish it.

August was 2-0 with two saves this week. He didn’t care about his statistics. “I love doing it for my teammates,” he said. “It makes me feel good for them to win.”

August has been playing in the MSBL World Series for six years. Many of his teammates have been competing for 15 to 20 years – most without a championship ring to show for it.

Sitting in the dugout, his day finished, August fought back tears as the championship game ended. August said his son, Coleman, 19, is going through a tough time with health-related challenges. “I told him before the game I was going to do it for him,” August said. “I dedicated the win to him.”

Shortstop Fuji Esparsza, player/manager of the Angels, was pleased that his skilled pitchers got the best of the good hitting Hurricanes team.

“Mike was my choice for MVP,” he said. “But this was a great team. We had one bad outing all week. I went through seven different pitchers and they all did their job. It was a great week hanging out with these guys. Six of them came from Texas. They did everything I asked them to. They were the key to our success.”

“We just ran out of gas,” Wilkerson said. “We faced a good pitcher, but our hitting fell through.”

August made sure that it did.

Like most of the players at the MSBL World Series, he was sore. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to walk and get on the plane,” he said.