Arizona Angels 10, Phoenix Tube 3

‘MVP Flores Pitches the Angels to the Title’

By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL

Tempe Diablo Stadium, October 25, 2014– Names can be deceiving. The matchup for the 35 Central title sounded like a contest between two local teams—Phoenix vs. Arizona. But only the Arizona Angels had any players from the Phoenix area. The Angels roster consists of 23 local players. On the other hand, the Phoenix Tube is made up of players from New York and Tucson with not one from Phoenix. That odd geographic combination of players was no match for the locals who pounded out 18 hits on the way to a 10-3 rout. “We’re a hitting team,” explained Angles manager Roberto Ramos. “We don’t really bunt or steal bases, but he can outhit most teams.”

The Tube jumped out to an early lead with two runs in the first inning. A single by Fred Flores, Kirk Jacobs’ double and Derek Wilson’s triple put Phoenix on top. The lead didn’t last long. In the second inning the Angels used three Tube errors to plate three unearned runs. It was a lead Arizona would never relinquish.

But for all of the focus on the offense, it was starting pitcher Steve Flores who walked off with tournament MVP honors. “Steve did a hell of a job,” praised Ramos. “He pitched two complete games in two days, that’s why he’s our MVP.”

After giving up two runs in the first and an unearned run in the third, Flores shutout Phoenix over the last six innings. The previous day, Flores went the distance in a 5-1 playoff win over the Puget Sound Gators. The Angels got to the finals the hard way, finishing fourth in division pool play with a 4-2 record. They beat Team Las Vegas (5-1), 11-4 in the semifinals.

The Tube didn’t have an easy road to the title game either. “We struggled a bit in pool play,” explained Phoenix manager Doug Howe. “We tied a team that didn’t win a game in our pool and lost a game we should have won. But I think we hit our stride in the playoffs and ended up where we expected to be—playing for the championship.” Phoenix finished 4-1-1 in pool play to earn the third seed for the playoffs. They won a pair of one run games to advance to the finals as Derek Wilson pitched 15 innings in the two games.

“I think we got beat by a team (Arizona) that was fresher than we were,” lamented Howe. “It is a big advantage to be the local team. We looked tired and our defense hurt us.”

The Angels have been playing together for eight years. “We are all good friends who enjoy playing together,” said Ramos. “We just like to go out there and have fun. We’re a pretty loose bunch. We have different personalities on this team. Everyone has a different mindset, but when it comes to baseball, we come together and play. We all want the same thing, to win a ring.” And now all of those different personalities have at least one thing in common—the same hardware on their fingers.