California Tribe 5, So Cal Dodgers 3

By Rick Sorci, special to MSBL National

First time was the charm for the California Tribe, as it survived a strong comeback by the So Cal Dodgers to win the 60 Central championship in its first try at that level, 5-3.

Tribe starter Carlos Bryson went the distance, notching a four-hitter, while striking out six and walking five. The win gave the Sacramento-based Tribe a perfect 9-0 record for the week. Bryson, the team MVP, won two games and saved two others. The Dodgers finished a very respectable week with a 6-2-1 record.

“I really felt comfortable out there,” Bryson said, afterward. “All my pitches were working. We played good defense and it made it easy for me. I was really ready today. I was really pumped.”

Bryson was mowing the Dodgers down inning after inning and the right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth. However, Coby Haskell of So Cal spoiled the no-hit bid with a solid single to left with two-out in that inning.

The Tribe got on the board first after Dodgers’ starter right-hander Julian Lopez posted three shutout innings. An error, a sacrifice and a single set the table for Tommy Arguijo, who stroked a two-run single to right to give California a 2-0 advantage.

“Getting the lead was really big,” said Ken Chavez, the Tribe manager. “When a team seeded lower than you gets the lead it gives them more confidence.”

The Tribe added to their lead, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to lead 5-0. The big blow in the frame was a two-out, two-run double off the bat of leadoff man John Lane, who drove the ball to right-center field. Earlier that inning, Gilberto Banuelos singled home Lanny Ropke, a courtesy runner for Chuck Loseth, who started the rally with a single.

The Dodgers’ bats finally got going in the top of the eighth, posting a three-spot off Bryson to cut the deficit to two runs. Haskell, who broke up the no-hitter, delivered an RBI-single and Dave Cripe had a run-scoring walk. The other run scored on an infield error.

In the ninth inning, Rick Rubin doubled for the Dodgers with one out, giving them hope. But Bryson induced a fly out to center for the second out and finished it off with a strikeout to seal the championship.

“I had a couple of guys ready to go if needed,” said Chavez of his bullpen. “But Carlos said it was his game and that he’d finish what he started.”

Dodgers manager Rick Fahrney tipped his cap to the Tribe, especially Bryson. “Give the guy credit,” he said of the Tribe pitcher. “He pitched well. But we were just a couple of hits away (from tying the game). We’re a pretty solid comeback team. So it was do-able.”

The Tribe zipped through the 60 Central round-robin, going 6-0 in Division 1. That included an 11-8 win over the Dodgers, who finished 4-1-1 in pool play and second in the division.

In the playoffs, the Tribe knocked off the Portland Dirt 19-2 in the quarter-finals, and then defeated the Red Deer Legends, 9-2 in the semis. Red Deer, a wildcard team, got there by upsetting top-seed San Antonio Yankees, 7-4, in the quarter-finals.

The Dodgers got to the championship game with a pair of come-from-behind, walk-off victories. They defeated the Hollywood Stars in the quarter-finals, 13-12 in 10 innings, and followed that up with a 6-5 win over El Paso in the semis.