3N2 Rangers 9, Agua Dulce Reds 2
“Kevin King Leads the Way”
By Jim Richards, special to MSBL
TEMPE, Ariz.–In 1986 26-year old Kevin King produced career highs with 30 homers and 93 RBI for Class Double-A Midland of the California Angels farm system under coach Joe Maddon. But while teammates Dante Bichette, Doug Davis and Mark McLemore went on to make names for themselves in Major League Baseball, a left-shoulder injury derailed King’s career and he was out of baseball two years later.
On Friday, player-manager Glenn Powers of the Seattle-based 3N2 Rangers flipped a green T-shirt to the now 54-year-old King, effectively handing him the team’s Most Valuable Player award moments after the Rangers handily topped the Agua Dulce Reds, 9-2, in the title game of the 50 Wood Central divisional tournament at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
“I got hurt so I didn’t get mine,” King said of his shot in the Big Show. “But this is fulfilling, it really is.”
The Rangers came back from an 0-3 start in pool play to win the division. It was their third title in seven years, having also won in 2008 and 2010.
Player-manager Glenn Powers went back to his 2010 title-winning pitcher Alex Garcia and he delivered again. Garcia worked seven strong innings and scattered eight hits and allowed two runs. Kirt Schmidtke and Al Simmons each had three hits for the Rangers. To Powers, it was King’s bat that made a lot of it happen.
“King was crunching the ball the whole time,” Powers said. “lt was all about offense for us. We have real good defense. We just needed to get the bats going.” For King, the title was his first, having joined the Rangers after the 2010 title. He could see the potential. “It’s been a long year,” said King, in his third season with the 3N2 Rangers. “We started this tournament 0-3, but we knew we had the best team we just weren’t playing together. All of a sudden we put it together and our bats started clicking and our pitching was timely. It’s just great.”The 2014 Rangers were a tight-knit group formed in Seattle and had more of a hometown look to it than in recent years. “This was a true team,” Garcia said. “Usually we have different guys coming in from different parts of the country, but this year is was a bunch of Seattle guys. This was a true team effort.” Powers agreed.
“This is the best,” Powers said of the three titles. “The guys came together. The first game we played the same team and we were like a rat pack. We lost the game on the last at bat…Our record was only 3-3 but we played better than that.”
The ride to the top was a wild one for the Rangers.. The Rangers won three straight, even coming back from an 8-0 deficit in one behind the pitching of Cochrane (who Powers said would have been his second MVP).
“This was a true team,” Garcia said. “Usually, we have different guys come in from different parts of the country, but this year it was a bunch of Seattle guys. This was a true team effort. Everybody came to play. We were shaky in the first game but we started to jell from then on.”
The Rangers got going early off Reds starter Jose Magallon. With one out, King delivered a single to right and after a walk to Larry Barlow, Schmidtke singled to load the bases. Steve Myers followed with a two-run single to right.
They extended the lead to 3-0 in the fourth when Schmidtke led off with a single to left and came around to score two hitters later on Mike Mirante’s ground single to right.The Reds’ Art Burke delivered a two-out double to score Jorge Flores in the fourth to cut the lead to 3-1.
The Rangers put the game away in the fifth after two were out. Schmidtke walked and took second on Larry Davis’ ground single. Magallon was then lifted for Tony Cavarrubias, who allowed singles to Myers and Mirante, a walk to James Jackson and a two-run double to Don Walk that extended the lead to 7-1. Ramon Alcaraz singled off Garcia to open the seventh and scored on Kevin Johnson’s single. Barlow singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch in the eighth to wrap up the scoring.
The game was played in temperatures of over 100 degrees on the field as the Phoenix area had hit a weather patch that saw several daily temperature records fall. But that didn’t matter to Garcia, who has spent time in Texas in recent years.
“I’m from Texas,” said Garcia, who once pitched at Shoreline Community College. “This is right at home. We play in triple digits all the time.”
For King, it was his third chance at a title. “I’ve had three chances and now I have one,” he said.