‘Dave Welsh throws four-hit shutout to pace Dodgers’

Salt Lake/KC Dodgers 17, Sacramento Solons 0By Jeff McGaw, MSBLNational.com

Tempe Diablo Complex Field 6 — Tournament MVP Dave Welsh threw a four-hitter while his battery mate Mark Adamsfell a double shy of hitting for the cycle as the Salt Lake City/Kansas City Dodgers smothered the Sacramento Solons 17-0 to win the 60-plus Cactus division title.

Just two days earlier the Solons vanquished the Dodgers 23-4 in round robin play. “They walloped us,” said Dodger skipper Bill Harmon of that earlier meeting. “So it was a big turnaround.”

This one was never really close. Everything the Dodgers hit – and they hit pretty much everything – either found a hole in the defense or blew a hole through the defense. The team amassed 22 hits and didn’t even have to bat in the bottom of the ninth. By contrast, the Solons struck out eight times, and sometimes even when they did connect things didn’t work out so well.

Case in point was a solid single by Solon slugger Rich Peters in the first inning which ended with him being thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. Peters was a bright light for the Solons as he ended the day with two hits – half of his team’s total.

As it turned out, that near double was the only real spark offensive spark of the day for the Solons. None of the team’s 30 batters reached second base safely.

Solons starter Mark Remaly plunked the Dodgers’ very first batter of the day — Jerry Weaver — and things went downhill from there. Adams, hitting second, and Bruce Lawniki followed with singles. Third baseman Sam Beets stroked an RBI single. After a walk, another run scored on an infield error and then Mickey Blevins stroked a two-run single to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead. Blevins finished the day going 4-for-4 with three RBI.

Easily overlooked in the sterile, statistical analysis of the game was what seemed to be a routine, 6-3 play to end the top of the second inning for the Solons. In reality, it was a well-struck ground ball that had it hugged the earth a little more tightly would likely have resulted in a single to left field.

Instead, the ball, which never bounced more than two inches off the ground for 99 percent of its journey, suddenly leapt straight up and into Harmon’s glove at about chest level. Harmon accepted the gift, athletically planted his right foot, turned and fired a strike to first for the final out of the inning.

The Solons did not enjoy the same degree of generosity from the Baseball Gods. Fortuitous hops were nowhere to be found. After consecutive singles and a fielder’s choice to start the second inning, Adams came to bat with two runners on and slammed a line drive down the line. The left fielder gave chase and dove toward the line to impede its progress, but rather than a friendly hop perhaps into the player’s glove the ball skittered just beyond his reach and rolled all the way to the fence and the fleet-footed Adams had a three-run, inside-the-park home run.

Adams stroked an RBI triple in the five-run fifth inning, but popped out to third base in his final at-bat and missed a chance to hit for the cycle. “Mark Adams is the best catcher in this age division,” Harmon said. “I’ve seen him catch and we’ve gone through several age groups. He’s steady as a rock. He hits the ball well, fields well, throws well, runs well — he’s the whole package. ”

The Solons finished round robin play with a 4-2 record that included the 23-4 thrashing of the Dodgers. Behind the solid pitching of Tommy DeFazio they punched their ticket to the finals with a 16-4 win over Paladin. The Dodgers, 5-1 in pool play, beat the Arizona Scorpions 8-5 in the semifinal playoff matchup. Jerry Weaver earned the win in that game.

The Salt Lake City-Kansas City relationship formed somewhat spontaneously, according to Harmon. Both teams were short of players, introductions were made, and one team with a hopelessly difficult, consonant-filled acronym emerged– the SLC/KC Dodgers.

Harmon was tapped to manage the squad when the original manager, Salt Lake’s Marty Hoelscher, was diagnosed with a serious blood clot in his foot prior to the tournament. Instead of enjoying the baseball in paradise, Hoelscher began a month long regimen of therapy that includes spending three hours per day in a hyperbaric chamber. The treatment delivers oxygen in greater concentration to the body and is said to speed recovery.

“We’ve talked to him every day and he’s doing better,” Harmon said. “He’ll enjoy hearing this news. He thinks he’s going to be OK.”