By Duke Cullinan, for MSBLNational.com
Behind the solid pitching of starter Jesse Medellin, and the solid all-around play of Pat Crowley, the Central Coast Hogs beat the Utah Pirates 4-1 to take claim the 45-and-over Desert Classic title.
The Hogs, playing their sixth game of the tournament, rode Medellin for seven innings before hard-throwing Sam Colarusso, who pitched and won the semifinal earlier in the day, returned to close the deal.
Crowley was Mr. January (apologies to Reggie Jackson) for the Hogs. He played a virtuoso symphony of defense, hustle, and stick magic. Crowley went 3-for-4 with, tripled, scored three runs, and saved one with a dazzling defensive play in the second inning.
With the score tied at 1-1, Utah’s Chuck Williams stood on second base representing the go-ahead run. Needing a hit to give them the lead and momentum, Neal Warner delivered a hard single to center. Unfortunately for the Pirates, Crowley was standing in center field.
Williams, reasonably fleet of foot, was going all the way. Crowley scooped up the pill from the groomed outfield grass and let go a dart that bulls-eyed at the plate. Williams was, as the players say, hosed. Inning saved.
Crowley, who batted second in the third inning, continued to torment the Pirates. He drove a pitch deep to center for a triple, and then scored on Dale Craig’s RBI single. Crowley singled and scored again in the eighth inning to add the insurance run.
For the Pirates, Tom Campos drove in Dave Carter in the second inning for what was to be their only run. The team from Utah was not without its opportunities however. They logged nine hits and three walks, and put runners in scoring position nine times, but converted only one of those chances. Time and again the Hogs got the key ground out or a double play to keep the Pirates at bay, pardon the pun.
Most notable for the Pirates was starting pitcher Brady Field who was throwing his second game of the weekend. Heavily built and well over six feet tall, Field was frequently hit hard, but kept the damage to the minimum. His work ethic throughout the tournament earned him praise from an appreciative manager Randy Miles. Surprisingly fast for his size, Field even legged out an infield single late in the penultimate game. The ethic seemed to be, “If you’ve got anything left, you leave it out on the field.”
“(We) missed a lot of opportunities to score early,” Miles said. “Then they put in their closer and he was good. Very good, he added.
Early in the tournament the Pirates were very good. They were 3-0 in round robin play and outscored opponents 28-8 in that time. That earned them the top seed and an automatic berth in the semifinals. The Hogs, meanwhile, went 2-1 and were forced into a quarterfinal in which they vanquished Dodgertown West 10-9.
They opened play Sunday with a 4-2 win over Team Victory – the five-time reigning Desert Classic champions.
Hogs manager Mike Jennings agreed. “Scrappin’ and playin’ some good defense,” he said.
“A few games we were able to bang – we’ve got some good hitters – but this time we were going against a good team so we had to get whatever they would give us.”