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2014 35+ American

Atlanta Rangers 11, Clearwater Cardinals 10

‘Gil Shuts Down Cardinals in Ninth’

By Mike Camunas, special to MSBL

Dunedin, FL., November 8, 2014— If anyone earned MVP honors, it was Aris Gil. With a slim 11-10 margin in the bottom of the ninth inning of the 35+ Fall Classic American Division championship game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, the Atlanta Rangers turned to their starter in a relief appearance to shut the door and defeat the Clearwater Cardinals. “The baseball gods came through for us in the ninth and you saw how it went down: the championship came down to one run in an 11-10 game,” Rangers manager Tommy Linda said. “I knew (Gil) was the guy to go to when we needed to shut (Clearwater) down and to shut down anyone else.That’s why he’s the MVP.”

Not only did Gil pick up the save Saturday afternoon, he pitched complete games Tuesday versus Clearwater and Friday versus Puerto Rico, the reigning champion. His arm late in the game, even after he started the game in the field, came in handy as the Rangers squandered a 10-4 lead they had by the fourth inning. “I expected a big game with a lot of runs,” Linda said. “The worst thing we could’ve done was get that big lead and sit back and get comfortable because they fought back until the end, but I’ve got a great group of guys that fought, themselves, to the end.”

Cardinals starter Larry Hingle gave up six runs before being pulled, while Rangers starter David Mendez lasted until he gave up seven runs. The Cardinals used two three-run innings to tie the game 10-10. The Rangers built their original lead, however, from defensive miscues by the Cardinals.

“We didn’t play defense,” Cardinals manager Dave Hash said. “If we had played defense, we’d have won this game. If you check the (game) book, you’ll see most of their runs were unearned because we didn’t play defense well. Defense wins championships. I told them that before the game, but we didn’t do it.”

In both innings the Cardinals scored three runs, they did so with two outs. Timely hitting by Tony Stay, Mike Faniglua and Kevin Bechtel was key to getting back in the game. However, Rangers players such as Reggie Barrau, Ivan Reid and Ingmar Tillero had already done their damage. The Rangers took their one-run lead in the top of the ninth on an error by Stay, but, despite that, Linda will take the championship.

“I’m ecstatic (about the win), even if I don’t have my voice,” Linda added with a laugh. “Hope it comes back this week, but it won’t be today and I’m just fine with that.”