2014 52+ National

Jimski’s Brewers 7, Puerto Rico Athletics 2

‘Bertrand Takes Care of Business’

By Chris Errington, special to MSBL

Clearwater, FL., November 8, 2014 – Repeating as Fall Classic champions is never an easy undertaking. Having to accomplish it against as team as dominant as Jimski’s Brewers is nearly impossible. With a roster full of players who’d never met prior to the tournament’s start, the Brewers rode the dominant pitching of Greg Bertrand and a key six-run seventh inning to dethrone the Puerto Rico Athletics. “That’s our team,” Brewers’ manager Jimski Michalski said. “Nobody thought we’d lose at any time.”

Sporting the tournament’s most dominant pitching staff, the Brewers never did lose, finishing with a perfect 7-0 record. Jimski’s allowed only nine runs during those seven games with Virgil Perez earning two complete-game victories and Rafael Fuentes going the distance in a 14-0 playoff victory over the Andreas Yankees. In the championship game it was Bertrand’s turn.

The right hander, who resides in Ventura County, California and was a member of last year’s Fall Classic-winning San Antonio Reds, relied on a bevy of fastballs to keep Puerto Rico off balance most of the way. “Normally, I’m a fast ball/slider pitcher, but those guys know who I am. They know I go off-speed a lot, so I started to stick with the fastball more,” Bertrand said. “I like to think I’m in good shape, but I really had to fight through the first five innings. After that, I felt great.”

Just as important as the big sixth inning was to the Brewers’ victory was Bertrand’s ability to keep Puerto Rico off the scoreboard after falling behind 2-0. The Athletics got a run in the third, then doubled their lead when Saul Hernaiz plated Luis Diaz with a single to left field. However, with the bases loaded and only one out, Bertrand got the two biggest outs of the game. A ground out and a line out to short kept the damage to a minimum and set the stage for a Brewers’ comeback.

Jimski’s got a run back in the sixth against starting pitcher Jesus Cruz, and tied the game on a play Athletics’ manager Felix Santana would later lament. Frank Lebano’s grounder up the middle seemed destined for a double play, but when the ball was misplayed into center field, the Brewers’ big inning began. “Errors are part of the game,” Santana said. “I thought [Cruz] made the right pitch and got us a ground ball. The whole game came down to one ground ball. We didn’t turn it into a double play and the rest is history.”

With Cruz pulled from the game, Pete Moran and Russ Wardfollowed with RBI singles, Darryl Morhardt added a two-run double and Mike Notofinished the outburst against the Athletics’ bullpen with a sacrifice fly to give the Brewers a commanding 7-2 lead. From there, it was just a matter of Bertrand dominating – growing stronger with each inning – to put the game away.

“It was great the way the guys molded as a team right away,”Bertrand said. “We were comfortable playing together the entire time. Winning tends to do that for a team.”