Tri-Valley Shockers 8, Montebello Angels 2

‘Coulie Leads the Way on Both Sides of the Ball’

By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL

Tempe Diablo Stadium, October 25, 2014- It all somehow seemed to make sense for Jason Coulie. The Shockers 36 year-old outfielder was all about the Angels for seven of his eight years in minor league baseball. Now he is the MVP in a championship game, played against a team called the Angels, in a game played in the big-league Angels spring training park. Some would call that going full circle.

All Coulie did was throw out the potential lead run at the plate with a perfect throw to end the top of the eighth. Then in the bottom half of the inning, Jason led off with a single, stole second and scored on Andre White’s base hit to give the Shockers the lead for good. “It is pretty cool,” said Coulie. “Having played here and now winning the title in this park, it is like a dream come true.” The Shockers are repeat champs having won the division championship last year. That title game was played at Maryvale Stadium.

Coulie was drafted by the Angels in the ninth round of the 2000 Amateur Draft out of Bates College (Lewiston, ME). He played in the club’s minor league system for seven years before injures forced him from the game in 2004. Now he is back playing ball on a smaller stage, but one that is just as rewarding.

“I really can’t say enough about him (Coulie),” praised Tri-Valley manger Keith Souza. “He loves the game and has just been a leader all through the tournament. Jason batted over .500 for us.” Catcher Matt Ceriani, who played AA ball in 2003, batted .545 for the tourney and caught five games without giving up a single passed ball. “Matt had a definite MVP tournament,” said Souza. “We would not have won without him.”

Teams do not win championships without good pitching, and the Shockers were no exception. Lorenzo Hidalgo pitched Tri-Valley into the finals with a complete game, 4-1 win against the Stanislaus Indians in the semifinal game. “What Lorenzo did is pretty special,” said Souza. “He got us to the title game last year too with a complete game shutout in the semis. It’s just amazing to go 18 innings with one earned run in those two big games.” Tim Rodriguez went the first six frames against the Angels in the finale as Steve Connally threw a scoreless seventh and Lorenzo Hidalgo came back and threw the final two innings as the trio scattered 11 singles and four walks in giving up just two runs.

The Shockers earned the top seed in the Mountain Division by going 4-1 in pool play. Another former pro, Eric Pickett was the top run producer with 9 RBI in those games. The 39-year-old outfielder played three years in the Braves organization.

The Angels scored in the second inning on a fielder’s choice-RBI ground out. The Shockers tied it in the third with the help of an error. Montebello regained the lead again in the fourth on a RBI single by Fidel Jacobo. Tri-Valley knotted the game again in the sixth when Andre White scored on a wild pitch with two out. It looked like the Angels would take thelead in the seventh, but an interference call on a slide by Rickey Parra at second base erased the apparent go-ahead run. That set up Coulie’s heroics in the eighth. Daniel Edward singled and was sacrificed to second by Bobby Ruiz. A single by Eddie Nava moved the runner to third. When Frank Rodriguez flied out to center; Coulie threw a strike to get Vega (running for Edward) at the plate.Mario Chavarin allowed just two runs through seven innings before running into trouble in the eighth when he gave up four to get tagged with the loss. “Both pitchers threw well and we just got a couple of bad breaks at the end,” lamented Angels manager Robert Oskin.

Montebello went 4-1 in pool play and won a hard-fought battle against Paso Robles in the semifinals. They came out on top 3-2 behind a complete game performance by Cisco Vega.”We have a nice little team,” explained Oskin. “This is our regular Saturday-Sunday team from home. We don’t come out here with a bunch of ‘hired guns’. These are the guys we play with all of the time and we’re proud of that.”