2014 52+ American

Kennett Blue Rocks 6, New Jersey Reds 0

‘Eldredge Throws Shutout in Title Victory’

By Mike Camunas, special to MSBL

Dunedin, FL., November 8, 2014 — When Dusty Eldredge said he wasn’t going to lose, he meant it. So Eldredge went out and pitched a four-hit, complete-game shutout to lead the Kennett Blue Rocks to a 6-0 win over the New Jersey Reds in the 52+ American MSBL Fall Classic Championship at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Saturday morning.

“He was outstanding for us,” Blue Rocks manager Mark Grandizio said. “We were talking about it last night on just how long he was going to be able to go after (pitching) Tuesday, but he looked me in the eye last night and said to me, ‘I will not lose.’ A lot of guys say that, but he came out and backed it up. He’s a horse and he wasn’t coming out of that game.”

Eldredge would also strike out two and walk one, but that didn’t come until the ninthinning when a fielding mishap helped load the bases. But Eldredge pitched out of that. “I had four pitches that were working for me and the screwball and the curve ball were both really working and really on target today,” Eldredge said. “My fastball also took them off balance. We played awesome defense and these are a great bunch of guys. You can’t beat them.”

The Reds brought with them big hitting center fielder Joe Russo, who was batting .524 for the tournament, but Eldredge was able to shut him down, too. “The answer of the game is Dusty Eldredge,” Reds manager Andy Vazquez said. “He pitched well all year and all tournament and his team behind him shut us down. Congratulations to him and them because they really earned it.”

“We’d been hitting well all season and in the playoffs led by Joe Russo our center fielder and we had a couple of guys also hit .400 in this tournament,” Vazquez added. “We have a good team top to bottom and to shut us down is a lot of work because he had us off balance all day.”

The Blue Rocks racked up 17 hits, but were lacking runs most of the game. However,Eldredge would help his cause with an RBI single in the second, while Gerry Green and Grandizio would both produce RBI singles as well. “We were getting a lot of hits, but we weren’t putting any runs on the board, so they were able to hang around some, too,” Grandizio said. “And even when they got the guys on in the ninth, Dusty just bore down and got through it. He was good at keeping them off balance by changing up his pitches.”

Keeping Eldredge in check behind the plate was catcher Dave Hissey, who not only caught all of Eldredge’s complete game, but also 18 innings coming into the game. Shortstop Glenn Davis picked up MVP honors thanks to great defense all week, which helped lead the Blue Rocks to their second championship in five years.

“We won it in 2009, but this is our first in this age bracket and some of the guys also won it in 1998, so a few guys have three championships now,” Grandizio said. “We never take it for granted, though, because it’s so hard to win it all because it’s a long week and a hard battle and we’re just glad we came out on top.”

But its even memorable for Eldredge. “It’s the first one for me so it doesn’t even feel real — its surreal,” Eldredge said. “It still hasn’t hit me, but I have to soak in all in now.”