2013 60 Mountain

TSP Windy City 11, Moondogs 5

‘Piacenti and the ‘Spaceman’ lead the quest for the ring’TSP Windy City 11, Lehigh Valley Moondogs 5

By Jason Johnson, Special to MSBLNational.com

Mesa Hohokam Stadium, November 2, 2013 – One year ago while Lehigh Valley was battling for an MSBL championship, family members were back home trying to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

This year there were no storms back home in Pennsylvania, but the Moondogs faced a different kind of wind in Arizona – Team Sport Pro Windy City.

The two teams met for the 60 Mountain division championship and when the dust settled, Windy City prevailed 11-5 and earned the right to wear the tournament championship ring.

Sandy did give way to one new Moondog tradition, according to Manager Turk Starniri. “We kept getting phone calls, emails and texts all week long about this family’s home and this family is in jeopardy. We were really worried about them back home so we started a prayer group after the games,” he said. “We’ve kept that tradition up and that’s pretty cool.”

The higher power to whom they directed their prayers of health and safety for all are apparently uninterested in the outcome of sporting events, and , in the end, they needed more than prayers to beat Windy City in 2013.The Moondogs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning when the first five runners reached base. But Windy City starting pitcher John Heinzl was able to get out of a bases loaded jam when Mike Zuk hit a one-out comebacker that turned into a home-to-first double play.

Windy City responded with two runs in the first and four in the second led by a George Karas two-run single. Tom Czysz, Randy Fleck and Gary Search led off the third inning with singles for Lehigh Valley and the Moondogs plated two more cutting the lead to 6-5. With the bases loaded and two outs Windy City brought in former big leaguer Bill Leeto quell the rally getting Barry Peterman to ground out to end the inning.

“The guys never quit and just kept going and going,” said Windy City manager Bart Zeller. “You can’t say enough about Bill Lee coming in the third inning and putting the fire out and went six strong innings for us. He kept us right in the ballgame and didn’t give up the runs so he was great.”

Lee went on to pitch six and a third scoreless innings for Windy City striking out three and allowing just four hits. With each big pitch you could hear yells of “Spaceman” – his nickname in the pros – coming from the Windy City dugout and fans.Ron Piacenti led Windy City’s offense by batting three for four with three RBI on the day. He was also able to reach base on a walk and an error putting him on base a total of five times for the game.

For Windy City this championship was especially important to the ones who had never been there before. They had several players who hadn’t tasted that success yet and Zeller really wanted to win it for those guys.

“That thrill – you don’t beat it,” said Zeller of winning a title. “But there’s no thrill better than to see someone win it who has been out here 16 or 17 years and they’re always fighting to get one so this is going to be their chance.”