2014 25+ Open

Cleveland Steve’s Sports 4, Long Island Sun Devils 1

‘Salay Dominates on the Hill’

By Mike Camunas, special to MSBLnational.com

Dunedin, FL., November 15, 2014 — When it was time to named the MVP, there was no hesitation from manager John Ramsey. “It’s Jeff Salay — he’s the MVP, for sure,” Ramsey said.

That’s because Salay pitched a three-hit complete game to lead Cleveland Steve’s Sports to its first +25 Open Championship on Saturday morning at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium with a 4-1 win over the Long Island Sun Devils. “I wanted to go the distance today and (catcher) Charlie (Wrightsel) did a great job behind the plate today,” Salay said. “I had a great defense behind me and it feels really good to get my first championship and do it this way.” Salay would strike out ten, walk four and give up an earned run in the ninth, this on the heels of pitching seven innings and striking out eight Monday vs. Long Island, as well.

“He has a straight fast ball, but his (pitching) motion was deceiving, so he placed the ball well,” Sun Devils manager Todd Lefkowitz said. “He was hard to hit and we’re a good hitting team. We went into extra innings Monday and only got four hits off them and only three (Saturday), so they’re pitching staff did a great job on us and one that carried them to the championship.”

Jake Plata hit a two-run, two-out homer in the bottom of the third for a 2-0 lead that Cleveland would never relinquish. Ramsey would tack on a run with an RBI double in the seventh, which also came on two outs. Salay did get into a little trouble in the ninth after a bloop single and walk, then an RBI single by Dom Gorecki gave the Sun Devils their lone run. Salay would pitch around it and strike out Kevin McNulty to end the game.

Long Island starter Pat Smith would last 6 2-3 innings after giving up four earned runs, but the Sun Devils had no real answer for Salay. “The first time we played these guys he was just as impressive with seven innings, eight strikeouts, but he didn’t get the win,” Ramsey said. “We needed to preserve him them and this is a pretty good hitting team.”

But after all this time and so many close calls, Ramsey is glad to finally get his first championship in this age bracket. “This is my ninth year and we’ve slowly built a good team the last couple of years,” Ramsey added. “There’s been a couple of heart breakers, a couple of runner ups, but we added a few pieces, a few arms and it was the right mix that finally got it done.”