Arkansas Diamonds 11, Portland Volcanoes 6

‘Godfrey, Barnes and Washington Lead the Charge’

By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL

Cubs Park-Mesa, AZ, November 8, 2014- It was a case of not getting older, but getting better. After losing in all seven previous championship games in younger divisions, the Arkansas Diamonds won in their first 60+ Central title game.

The Diamonds wasted no time in making a statement as they got out to a 7-1 lead after two innings. Starting pitcher and co-manager John Godfrey knew that the Diamonds would have to hit to win. “Hitting and defense is our real strength,” explained Godfrey. “We weren’t sure if our pitching would hold up coming into the tournament. We just have four starters and then some other guys to spot in.” Godfrey started on the mound and gave up five runs (four earned) on 12 hits though 7-plus innings before giving way to tournament MVP Joe Barnes in the eighth. “Joe was a real life-saver,” said Godfrey. “He pitched both playoff games yesterday and then came back to finish up today.” The Diamonds went 5-1 in pool play. In the playoffs they defeated a pair of San Antonio teams, the Broncos, 22-4 and theYankees, 13-2 to advance to the final.

Godfrey shares managing duties with Brian Carroll. “It’s kind of a GM-Manager relationship,” explained Godfrey. “He handles all the paperwork and I kind of run the team on the field.” Brian joked, “John is the brains, but I’m better looking.” Having played through the progression of age brackets, Godfrey admits that it is a different experience now that it was when they started. “When we were in our 30s, guys used to say, ‘I’m not coming if I can’t play all the time.’ Now guys say I’m not coming if I have to play all the time.’ We used to have the aches and pains after the tournament. Now we start the tournament with the aches and pains and they just get worse.”

Henry Washington carried the big bat to the title game as he went four-for-four with two doubles and a pair of RBI. He was one of six Diamonds to collect at least two hits.

The Volcanoes were 3-2 in pool play and then fought through the playoffs to the title round. They beat the El Paso Tejanos 16-7 and the St. Paul Saints 4-1 to earn a championship game berth.

Portland has been coming to the MSBL World Series for 15 years. Even more impressive, they have gone home with a ring every year. “We have a really good team and we have a really good time here,” beamed Volcanoes managerKen Herman. Portland committed five errors leading to eight unearned runs. “Our defense hurt us today,” lamented Herman. “They made the plays and we didn’t.”Godfrey agreed. “They hit the ball hard, but it was right at us and we didn’t miss. On the other hand, they gave away some outs and we were able to take advantage of it.”

“It sure feels better going home this year than last year,” said Godfrey. “It took us a long time to get here, but now it is mission accomplished.”