Dallas Cardinals 6, Komox Canadians 4

‘Gamez Drives in Winning Runs in the Eighth’

By Jim Richards, special to MSBL

Maryvale Stadium, Phoenix, Saturday, October 25, 2014–A couple of teams that had never made it to the winner’s circle squared off in the title game of the 35 Wood Cactus division and put on a show that the people in attendance likely won’t forget. When it was over, the Dallas Cardinals held on for a 6-4 over the Komox Canadians at Maryvale Stadium to capture the 35 Wood Cactus division in a thriller.

Jerry Gamez drove a soft line drive into right-center field just past the outstretched glove of Canadians’ center fielder Scott Hendry with two outs to score two runs in the bottom of the eighth and gave the Cardinals a 5-4 lead. The Cardinals added another insurance run and held on for their first ever title.

“We put a collective group together and everyone seemed to play their positions real well,” Cardinals coach Jason Gutierrez said. “This is an exciting feeling.” Gamez had three hits in the game and was named a co-Most Valuable Player along with pitcher Sergio Lucas, who went the distance and picked up the win. Lucas, a sidearm right hander, had thrown five innings on Friday and gave the Cardinals the lift they needed.

“I just found strength where I could,” said Lucas, a native of Fort Worth, Texas and an outfielder in high school who took up pitching only eight years ago. “I knew this team needed this and I wanted this so bad.”

The Cardinals led nearly the entire way until the sixth when the Canadians knotted the score at 3-3. The Canadians took their first lead in the eighth when Andy Stewart and Jackson Barnard (three hits in the game) opened the inning with infield singles and after a two-out walk to Lance Wade, Stewart scored on a wild pitch for the Canadians’ first lead of the game at 4-3.

The Cardinals went right back to work on Canadians’ starter Eric Boisvert, who had settled down and allowed only one run since the first inning. Rusty Holmes opened the inning with a single to right and took second on Bob Bereuter’s bunt. Boisvert walked Mark Colaluca and Troy Key and was lifted for hard-throwing right hander Steve Spooner to face Gamez.

“Yeah, there was pressure when I went up there,” Gamez said. “I had confidence. I wanted to get the barrel on it. It was out over the plate and I went to right field with it.” Gamez drove a two-strike pitch to right-center field. Hendry, who made a terrific diving catch to save a run to end the fifth inning, dived and got a glove on it but it rolled away as Holmes and Colaluca scored for a 5-4 lead. Nick Swanson then lined a single off the third baseman’s glove for a 6-4 lead.

Boisvert, a hard-throwing left hander, recovered from a tough first inning to keep his team in the game until the eighth in a likewise splendid performance in the Arizona fall heat that reached a record for the day 96 degrees. The Cardinals got to Boisvert for two runs in the first. Singles by Kevin Fought, Troy Key and Gamez loaded the bases for Nick Swanson with one out. Swanson delivered with a two-run single to center for a 2-0 lead after one inning.

The Canadians got on the board when Jackson Barnard delivered an RBI double to right field with two out in the third that scored Martin Guerrero, who was hit by a pitch. But the Cardinals got the run back in the home half of the third when Gamez delivered a two-out single to center to score Mark Colaluca, who had singled, for a 3-1 lead after three. Canadian Ryan Wade opened the fourth with a double and scored on Lance Wade’s single. They tied the game on Juan Cervantes’ triple to right that scored Boisvert (reached on an error).

After Gamez’s heroics, Lucas fired a 1-2-3 ninth to end the game, capping a week of nine games in seven days for the Cardinals. “It was endurance,” Gutierrez said. “We never quit and we kept going until the end. None of us will ever stop and it’s good intestinal fortitude. Sergio went the distance and we wouldn’t have had a chance without him. We knew we had a better team than last year (they were ousted in the first round). We felt if we could get to Saturday we’d have a chance.”