Ft. Worth 3, Sacramento 0

By Jeff McGaw, MSBLNational.com0

Scottsdale Stadium, Oct. 24, 2013 — It’s the little things, as they say.

In the 55 Mountain Division finals the biggest little thing of the game was a ground ball should have become a third out in the sixth inning, but instead became the spark in a decisive, three-run rally that gave the Fort Worth Phillies a 3-0 win over a battle-tested Sacramento Tribe.

The win capped an undefeated run by the Phillies – who were the 50 wood bat central champs in 2011 — and helped ease the sting of last year’s championship game defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Phillies starter Richie Figueroa scattered seven hits for the complete-game win. He got help from his defense who turned double plays to end threats in each of the first two innings. Figueroa struck out four and walked five on the day.

Tribe Starter Bart Waldman, hoping to pitch his team to a win on his 65th birthday, pitched nearly as well scattering seven hits and walking just one, but was saddled with the loss.

With the game scoreless entering the bottom of the sixth inning, Waldman got two quick outs before giving up a single to Gabe Chavez. Tournament MVP Angel Olmo then ripped a ball on the ground toward second base, but it was mishandled to put runners on first and second. Alonzo Alfred then delivered an RBI single to score Chavez with what proved to be the winning run. Wayne Williams followed with an RBI single and Figueroa walked with the bases juiced to produce the third and final run of the game.

Though hitless on the day, Olmo was the easy choice for tournament MVP said Phillies skipper Frank Philips. “All week I think he made one error. He was stellar. He single handedly took us on his back on game by hitting two triples and a double. He carried us to the win. It was an undisputed choice for him to be the MVP,” said Philips.

Paul Drake, a big left-handed first baseman, hit over .600 for the Phillies and, just as importantly, Philips said “he saved us many times scooping up balls at first base.” David Palumbo and Joe Withmer also had strong tournaments for the Phillies.

And when it counted, Rich Figueroa was stellar on the mound. “Richie Figueroa threw an absolutely fantastic game,” Philips said.

Waldman, a Seattle resident playing for the first time with the Tribe, said it would have been nice to have a win on his 65th birthday, but took the loss in stride. “I felt great. What could be better than being out here at Scottsdale Stadium on a beautiful day,” he said. “They’re a very good team. Richie Figueroa threw a little bit better than I did today,” Waldman added.

“Our reputation has been pitching and defense,” said Tribe manager Ken Chavez, adding that Waldman’s start – allowing no earned runs – was a good one. This week, he said, it seemed like offense took over and defense took a back seat. “I’m not sure if it was fatigue or just one of those things, but we can’t be the best every year.”

Beating the Tribe is a worthy accomplishment. Since 2001 the team, in one form or another, has played in 13 championship games, including five at the Father-Son level, and won eight titles in the 45, 55, and father-son divisions combined.

Rex Yuhas, Mike Thatcher, Dave Deitrich, Phil Adams and Burlin Germany all had productive tournaments, Chavez said. Win or lose, Chavez added, “I wouldn’t trade these guys for anything. We’re a family….guys love each other. It’s great.”

Philips was ever the gracious victor. “They have a winning organization. We knew they would be the ones here in this game. Those guys are tough and they don’t go away. We held our breath until the very last out.”