Solons carve Rushmores 10-3

By Rodney Johnson,

Tempe Diablo Stadium, October 20, 2013- Thinking of one’s golden years conjures up images of rocking chairs and afternoon naps. For the MSBL’s 70+ division it means something completely different. The Sacramento Solons and South Dakota Rushmores looked anything but ready for the old folks home when they vied for the championship on a beautiful Arizona morning in Tempe.

Solon’s manager and shortstop Ray Newman beamed with pride before the game. “We play pretty good ball for guys our age.” His club then went out and proved it. Sacramento pounded out 18 hits including two triples and three doubles on the way to a 10-3 win. “Our club works out all year,” explained Newman. “We get together two or three times a week and play ball. It keeps us in shape for this (the tournament).”

The Solon’s jumped out in front with a three-run third inning keyed by an RBI double by Norm Losk. South Dakota came right back with a pair of unearned runs in the fourth to keep the game close. After Harry Hart led off the fifth with a single, back-to-back triples by Newman and Losk and an RBI single from Steve Gonsiorowski broke the game open. The Solons scored four more in the sixth and cruised the rest of the way. Darlan Brin didn’t give up an earned run in seven innings and picked up the win. Irv Scott pitched the final two frames to close it out. “We just ran out of gas,” lamented Rushmore manager John Larson.

“When you’re playing in the 70s, you have guys that have been around the game a long time,” said Larson. “One of our players, Lew Ingalls, won a championship in the 40s division and that was more than 20 years ago.” Larson has his share of MSBL memories as well. His first tournament was in 1995 and this year he was inducted into the MSBL Hall of Fame. “We all stay at the same hotel, eat dinner together and go to the Sugar Bowl (a Scottsdale ice cream parlor). There is just a great feeling of camaraderie in our group.”

South Dakota was 2-0-1 in pool play. They advanced to the final by beating the Team America 18-4 and the San Diego Padres 7-1 in the playoffs. The Solons were undefeated in the tournament going 4-0-1 in pool play, including a 9-7 win over the Rushmores. Sacramento knocked off the Arizona Scorpions 16-7 and Dodgertown West 15-0 in the playoffs.

Before the game, Tina Haas, the Solon’s scorekeeper deluxe said to keep an eye on leadoff hitter Jimmy Lortz. “Jimmy is so fast he sometimes runs right out of his shoes,” said Haas. Sure enough after scoring on a wild pitch in the sixth inning, Lortz had to retrace his steps up the baseline to retrieve his shoe that had flipped off on his trip home. Lortz had three hits, two runs scored, a double and an RBI in the game. He was selected as the tournament MVP.

While Hall-of-Famer Larson says he is sure to be back next year, Newman claims this is his last tournament. “I told everyone before we started that this was it,” explained Larson. But holding the gold championship trophy in the glow of the moment, the skipper was having second thoughts. “Everyone was taking me out to dinner all week as a going away gift. Right now though, I don’t know. This feels pretty good.” Now that is what golden years are all about.

The Rushmores have appeared in every 70-and-over championship game since the division was formed in 2009, but have never won the title outright. Due to inclement weather and poor field conditions, they were declared co-champs with the San Diego Padres in 2011.