2014 45+ National

East Coast Cardinals 8, Chester County Cobras 7

‘Bichette Takes Control on the Hill’

By Chris Errington, Special to MSBLnational.com

Clearwater, FL., November 15, 2014 – In a see-saw battle that had multiple lead changes and came down to the wire, having a four-time MLB all-star and Silver Slugger award winner can make all the difference. Only this time, it wasn’t just with his bat.

Former Colorado Rockies star Dante Bichette finished 3-for-4 with a trio of singles and the game-tying RBI, but was even more impressive on the mound, tossing 4-2/3 innings and allowing just a single run to give Cardinals manager David Hash another Fall Classic championship.

“I’ve already emptied the Advil bottle,” Bichette joked. “When I feel good on the mound, I throw a lot of fastballs and I felt pretty good out there today. I think I could have gone a few more innings if they needed me to.”

Thanks to a late rally, it never came to that. After taking a quick 4-0 lead, the Cardinals found themselves behind 7-5 and just seven outs from defeat. But when Curtis Patterson and Bichette each drove in runs with two-out hits, East Coast had tied the game and set the stage for the fateful eighth.

A base on balls and a pair of infield errors, one throwing and one fielding, allowed the go-ahead run to score. And when Bichette worked around a two-out double in the ninth to induce a game-ending pop-out, another title was clinched.

“I’ve been through this too many times to get nervous,” said Hash, who won his third Fall Classic title as a manager to go along with three others as a player. “All of the championships we’ve won are great. We’ve built a strong team and this was a special group of guys. When you put the ball in [Bichette’s] hands in a championship game and he’s on, he locks and loads and shuts them down.”

The victory capped a stellar week for the East Coast Cardinals, who finished round-robin play 4-1, including an 8-3 victory over Chester County. Dennis Gawronski’s complete game effort proved the difference in a 10-5 playoff victory over the Maryland Monarchs to set the stage for the thrilling championship game.

For the Cobras, a 3-2 round robin effort was capped with a dominant 5-0 playoff victory over the Brooklyn Royals. It looked like Chester County would continue that momentum to a tournament championship when it scored five runs in the third and single runs in the fifth and seventh to take a 7-4 lead. But it wasn’t meant to be.

It marked the second loss to the Cardinals in a Fall Classic title game, the other coming following the 2008 tournament.

“Despite the errors late, we can’t say we handed them anything,” said Chester County manager Pete Alex. “To have a man on second base with a chance to tie it in the ninth is a credit to our guys who never gave up.

“It’s easier to lose when you know you’re not in the game rather than have it come down to the final at-bat, but our guys won’t hang their heads. They kept staying positive and kept fighting.”