2015 18+ National

Paso Robles Punishers 11, Atlanta Sidewinders 4 (12 innings)

‘Seven runs in the 12th Inning Put it Away’

By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL

October 25, 2015,Tempe Diablo Stadium- The 18+ WB National Championship game was a matchup of East vs. West. This year, the west came out on top. Juan Carlos Garcia’s three-run triple in the 12h inning broke a tie score and led the Punishers to a 11-4 victory.

Paso Robles, California is almost 2,300 miles from Atlanta, Georgia. If you got in your car in Atlanta and headed due west at an average 70 MPH, you would reach Paso Robles in about 33 hours. The Sidewinders shortened the trip to just over 1,800 miles and 26 hours by meeting the Punishers in Tempe, Arizona for the 2015 MABL World Series.

Sidewinders manager John Wolosick thinks the travel was worth the experience. “A lot of our team has played in the Fall Classic in Florida, but it is so far and expensive to come out here (Arizona), that this is our first time to the World Series,” explained Wolosick. The Sidewinders made the most of their trip to Arizona by earning a first round bye with a 4-1 record in pool play. They advanced to the title game by edging the Orange County Rays 8-7 in the playoffs. “We really didn’t know what to expect going against west coast teams,” said Wolosick. “We feel like the baseball in Georgia is as good as it is anywhere. The past few years Georgia teams have won in the Florida tournaments and we were playing the same teams we played all the time at home. We wanted to come out here (Arizona) and see how we compared to teams nationally.”

For the Sidewinders and the Punishers the championship game was a rematch of their contest two days earlier on the same field. Atlanta came from behind to top Paso Robles 9-6 and set expectations for the title tilt.

Things looked like they were headed in the same direction when the Sidewinders took a 3-0 lead in the second inning of the title game. Rocco Calloway’s two-run double keyed the rally. The Punishers struck back with four runs in the fourth to grab the lead. A Sidewinders error proved costly in leading to two unearned runs. After giving up three runs in the second, Paso Robles starter Erik Draxton retired 18 batters in a row before allowing a harmless single in the eighth.

With the game in the balance, the Sidewinders loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth. “We sure felt like we could get two runs there,” lamented Wolosick.Garcia came on to pitch and stage was set for a dramatic finish. Ted Pratt flied out to center and Steve Barnett tagged at third and came in to score the tying run. Meanwhile, Willie Gaston tagged at second but was thrown out trying to advance to third. The double play snuffed out the rally and after Jason Creel struck out, the game headed to extra innings.

Sidewinder starter Zach Smith gave way to losing pitcher Brandon Thielk in the 11thinning. Paso Robles erupted for seven runs in the 12th with Garcia’s triple and Juan Senrieso’s towering home run providing the key blows.

“This team has been nothing if not resilient,” beamed Punisher manager Marc Smith. “Twice during the tournament we came from eight runs down to win games.” The Punishers didn’t have nearly as far to travel as their opponents. “The core of our team started in Paso Robles, but most of our players are from Phoenix,” explained Smith.

Perhaps the key performance that made it all possible for San Robles came a day earlier when starter Jesse Smith showed up late and missed the first inning of the playoffs but then went the next eight innings to win the first game against San Jose, 2-0. Smith then went nine innings in the semifinal game to top Long Island, 5-2. “He was our MVP,” glowed Marc Smith. “He just willed his way through those 17 innings.”

1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9    10    11   12

Paso Robles                       0     0     0     4     0     0     0     0     0     0      0     7

Atlanta                               0     4     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0      0     0

WP:Garcia LP: Thielk

HR:Senrieso (PR)

3B:Garcia (PR)

2B:Calloway (ATL)

Leading Hitters: Punishers: Garcia 4×6, 3 RBI; Senrieso 3×6, 2 RBI. Sidewinders: Calloway 2×4, 2 RBI.

SAC: none

SF:Medina (SR); Pratt (ATL)

SB: Senrieso 3 (SR); Wilson (ATL)

LOB: Punishers 10; Sidewinders 3

Time of Game: 3:41