Downey Waves 16, Sacramento Stars 4

‘Rodriguez’ Five Hits Lead the Waves’

By Lois Akahoshi and Tom Crompton, special to MSBL

Tempe Diablo Stadium, November 2, 2014–The 2014 Federal Father and Son Division championship game looked to be the perfect match-up: the Waves 3-1 pool play versus the Stars 3-0-1 pool play. Similar records, very different paths to the championship game.

The Downey Waves only loss was to the same Sacramento Stars they faced now, a close 4-3 game with the Stars on top. After that game the Waves went into another gear and won four straight (including the championship) while outscoring their opponents 73 to 24.

The Sacramento Stars, on the other hand, saw their run for the trophy dominated by close games and since the Stars had given the Waves their only loss, this looked to be a classic match-up.

Pitching and defense stole the show for the first four innings, which had the Waves holding a narrow 3-1 lead. Both starting pitchers, the Waves Pablo Santos and the Stars Nick Cole, had each given up six hits. The Star’s Cole was aided by a fine play on a ball in the hole by second baseman Craig Lewis in the first and a diving play by shortstop Eric Guimont in the third. Cole, despite giving up six hits and two walks in his four innings of work, held the red hot Waves to just three runs.

The Wave’s pitcher Santos kept the Stars’ hitters off balance with a steady mix of change ups, curves and fastballs. Santos was also aided by solid defense, especially a perfectly executed 9-4-2 to end a Stars rally in the bottom of the fourth.

New Stars Pitcher Rusty McLain was greeted by a re-energized Waves team that seemed to feed off the relay play that ended the previous inning. With the aid of a walk, three singles and a double, the Waves brought in four runs to take a 7-1 lead. The hit parade included Salvador Esparza, 3×4 and two RBIs, MVP Frank Rodriguez, who went an impressive 5×5 with two RBI’s, and Mario Rodarte Jr., 3×4 and also with two RBI’s.

Wave’s pitcher Carlos Soria, took over in the fifth and after a lead-off walk, retired the next six straight hitters, two by strikeouts.Meanwhile, the Wave’s hitters struck again in the seventh. A hit batter, two walks and five hits led to six more runs and now a 13-1 lead. Soria struggled a bit in the seventh. After a fly out to right he loaded the bases but regained his control and got the final two on strikeouts with no runs scoring.

The Waves hitters continued their assault in the top of the eighth with three runs on three hits and a hit batsman. A triple by S. Esparza drove in another two. The Stars defense kept the damage to a minimum by turning a nice 6-4-3 double play with the final out being a great 6-3 first base stretch and scoop.

The Waves were held in check in the ninth except for hitting machine Frank Rodriguez, who collected a double to top off his five for five MVP performance.

In the ninth the Stars strung together some productive at bats, plating three runs, but the game ended on a unique 9-6-5 double play.In the end the final score of 16-4 was the result of outstanding hitting and nearly flawless defense. They are a team that brought it all together at the perfect time.

Defensive game breaker: In the bottom of fourth the Waves executed the perfect 9-4-2 relay to end the inning, keeping the score 3-1.

Offensive game breaker: In the top of the fifth the Waves Rodarte doubled to put them up 5-1.