Albuquerque Cyclones 3, Tucson Longhorns 0
‘Alvarez Notches Complete Game Shutout’
By Parrick Lagreid, special to MSBL
November 8, 2015, Maryvale Stadium, Phoenix, AZ. – In a classic back-and-forth matchup featuring a pair of complete game pitching performances, great defense and some well-timed hits, the Albuquerque Cyclones edged out the Tucson Longhorns 3-0 at Maryvale Baseball Park on Sunday to win the 25+ Wood Bat Central Division crowd in front of a spirited crowd of supporters.
The Longhorns, who had played in the MSBL World Series under the Tucson Rays name the past four years, had to make a last minute change to their starting pitcher, going with Memo Hernandez in place of Nico Rosthenhausler less than 30 minutes before first pitch. While the right hander didn’t have much warning that he would take the hill, it certainly didn’t prevent him from getting into a groove quickly.
The Cyclones struck first and quickly, getting out to a 1-0 lead as Josh Escobedo led off the game with a single. Josh Capello laid down a sacrifice bunt to get him to third and Dave Culp drove him with a single. After that, the Cyclones would only scatter a few hits and wouldn’t get a runner to third until the final frame.
Albuquerque’s starter, Daniel Alvarez, kept the Longhorns’ hitters off balance for most of the game, yielding just eight singles en route to a complete game victory and co-MVP honors. While manager Darrell Creel said he was ready to throw every available arm he had in this game, the bullpen would stay quiet for much of the ballgame and only Alvarez’ cleats would touch the rubber for the Cyclones.
Defense was also a bit of a concern for Creel, who said it had bit a bit unsteady at times during the week but sensed before the game that it might finally be coming together. It was a premonition that would soon prove accurate.
Through the first eight innings, the Longhorns only had a runner reach second base of beyond once, as Alvarez struck out five and managed to get some outstanding help from his defense. A double play ended the Longhorn’s half of the first, left fielder Antonio Olguin made a diving catch to rob Hernandez of a hit in the 4thinning and a 5-4-3 double play shut things down Tucson in the 5th.
The fact that the defense was playing so well wasn’t lost on Alvarez. “I’m not a strikeout pitcher and they were right there the whole game; it was a big team effort,” he said following the game.
While both teams managed to hit a number of balls hard, the majority of them found gloves, including several hit to Longhorns’ centerfielder Aaron Castillo, who tracked down a number of well-hit balls and picked up an outfield assist as part of a double play.
The Longhorns would threaten in the 8thinnings, as Tavo Flores legged out an infield single and J.C. Rodriguez did the same, drawing a wide throw that allowed both runners to move up a base. Alvarez didn’t let that phase him though, striking out Steven Pesqueira to end the inning and preserve the lead.
In the top of the 9th, Hernandez retired the first two batters he faced, but plunked Escobedo before Capello singled to the shortstop. That set the table for Culp, who picked up his second and third RBIs with a well-struck double. Alvarez went through the bottom of the Longhorns’ lineup in order to seal the win.
Creel called Alvarez’s performance an awesome way to cap off the tournament, especially having pitched 12 innings earlier this week. He would name Alvarez and Valentin Varela as co-MVPs of the tournament.
Longhorns’ manager Fernando Pesqueira praised Hernandez’s performance in keeping the game close, as well as his team’s resiliency in making the game a true battle.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cyclones 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 2 1
Longhorns 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
Cyclones: Alvarez and Shipman. Longhorns: Hernandez and N. Rosthenhausler.
WP:Alvarez LP: Hernandez SV: None
2B: McCord, Culp.
SB: Escobedo. Monaco.
Team LOB: Cyclones: 8. Longhorns: 7.
Time of Game: 1:55.