|2014 50+ Wood Bat MSBL Kickoff Classic Champion Team Victory
Team Victory 12, Boston Wolfpack 7
“Thigpen paces Team Victory”
Contributed by Tom Taylor and Jeff McGaw
Las Vegas, Nev. March 10, 2014 — For the third consecutive year the Boston Wolfpack and Team Victory faced off in the finals at the Kickoff Classic, and for the second time in three years Team Victory took home the championship iron.
Greg Bertrand, who made MSBL history in January when he pitched all 18-innings in Team Victory’s thrilling 2-1 championship game win over the Agua Dulce Reds at the Desert Classic in Palm Springs, tossed a complete, 9-inning game to take the win at Hadland Park over the top-seeded Wolfpack. Bertrand threw six shutout innings and never really got in trouble until the eighth inning when the ‘Pack notched five runs. Bertrand yielded 15 hits on the day while striking out seven and walking just one.
Team Victory did not select a game MVP because, as player/coach Rafael Fuentes said, “This was a total team effort from top to bottom.” However, if his feet had been held to the fire, he would have been safe nominating Doug Thigpen who not only caught the game, but who finished 3-for-5 with a double, triple, homer and three RBI on the day. Thigpen both doubled and tripled in the second inning while scoring a run and blasted his solo home run in the 6th. He lined out and grounded out in his last two at bats while trying to complete the cycle with an elusive single.
The Boston Wolfpack, led by manager Russ Ward, cruised through pool play and the playoffs and entered the championship game as the undefeated (5-0) top seed.
Meanwhile, the California-based Team Victory, having lost to the Wolfpack in pool play by a score of 6-3, was forced to take a different route to the championship game. Their confidence was never an issue, as they trusted one another and really pulled together as a team for coaches Dave Brunette and Fuentes.
“It was the contributions from every single player on the roster in important situations throughout the weekend that got us to this game,” Fuentes said. And second seed or not, with Bertrand on the mound for Team Victory, confidence was high.
By his own admission, Bertrand labored through the final two innings, but “he is the ace and a veteran,” said Brunette. “So he dug deep, and found a way to close the game out and secure the Championship for Team Victory.”
Eddie Fuller was 2-for-3 with a double and a bases loaded triple in the eighth to go along with three RBI for Boston in the losing cause. Jay Hoyt added an RBI double in the same inning but it just wasn’t enough. Team Victory beat the Wolfpack 5-3 in the 2011 finals of the Kickoff in the 45-and-over division. Last year the Wolfpack took home the 50-and-over title with a 9-3 win over Team Victory.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Team Victory 1 1 3 0 0 4 3 0 0 12 17 1
Boston Wolfpack 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 1 7 15 2
Greg Bertrand and Doug Thigpen. Edgardo Mercado, Dave Benedict (6)
and Paul Rousseau. W-Bertrand L-Mercado.
Leading Hitters – (Team Vic.) Doug Thigpen 3×5, 2B, 3B, HR, 3R, 3 RBI;
Rosario Carrion 3×3, 2B, 3R; Manny Salinas 3×5. (Wolfpack)
German Rivera 2×4, 2B, RBI; Carmelo Bastion 2×3, 2B, RBI;
Mike Khoury 2×3; Eddie Fuller 2×3, 2B, 3B, 3RBI.