Westside Bandits 4, Arizona Smoke 2
‘Lugo and Treet Unbeatable Battery-Mates’
By Jason Johnson, special to MSBL
November 8, 2015, Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, AZ – In a Wild West showdown between the Westside Bandits and Arizona Smoke the Bandits come out on top 4-2 to capture the 25 Mountain division championship to complete their journey from not making the playoffs in the 2014 MSBL World Series to Mountain Division champions in 2015. Lester Lugo pitched a complete game for the Bandits allowing just five hits and Lupe Castanon went two for two scoring a run and driving in another.
“I’m extremely excited and humbled to be a part of this,” said Bandits manager Robert Luna after the game. “I’m extra proud of the heart and passion my fellow teammates showed today.”
That heart and passion was exemplified by catcher and team MVP David Treet. Treet hit over .500 throughout the tournament and played solid defense including throwing a runner out trying to steal in the seventh inning which killed a rally. He continued his tear at the plate as well with an RBI double in the third inning.
“I just did my job behind the plate and when I came up to bat I tried to put the ball in play and hit it hard,” said Bandit MVP Treet.
Bandits starting pitcher Lugo was on point all day with a strong command of his fastball staying ahead in the count on the hitters. Lugo struck out 10 batters through the first five innings and finished with 13 strikeouts for the game. He walked just two and one of those was intentional.
“Lugo pitched on opening night and again tonight and proved to be a gamer and a horse,” said Luna.
In the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs and nobody on the Arizona Smoke started to rally when Kyle Strauss and Jose Pena hit consecutive singles. With Alex Murrieta at the plate a wild pitch put both runners in scoring position. Murrieta then grounded to the shortstop who threw the ball away scoring both runs cutting deficit to 3-2. Lugo was able to hold on to the lead when he got Mike Swoboda to ground out to end the inning.
Before the Bandits came to bat in the bottom of the top of the seventh Luna rallied the troops and huddled the team just outside of the dugout. The Bandits responded and added an insurance run in the seventh inning when Beau Jenkins drove in Phillip Castillo on a fielder’s choice.
“I brought the guys in and let them know it’s the time to respond and kill their momentum,” said Luna. “This goes to show you the kind of team we have.”
When the Bandits and Smoke faced each other in pool play the Smoke came out on 5-0 in a rain delayed marathon. Lugo started that game for the Bandits as well.
From there the Bandits went on to win the rest of their games finishing 4-1. Catcher David Treet led the team with a strong defensive performance along with a batting average exceeding .500.
The Arizona Smoke finished 4-1 as well led by Murrieta who batted .667 heading into the championship game. The Smoke really had a strong showing in all facets of the game with all of their starting pitchers going at least seven innings and allowing the least amount of runs in pool play due to their outstanding defense.
“We’re a scrappy team and play baseball,” said Smoke manager Andy Garza.
In the semis the Bandits defeated the Rhode Island Brewers 10-3 with Elmer Rivas earning the win. Josh Morey, Jason Thomas and Lupe Castanon led the team to victory with their bats.
The Smoke defeated the Long Island Sun Devils 5-1 to advance to the championship behind the arm of Luke Kathol who pitched eight innings and gave up just one run earning the win. Andy Rocha drove in two runs including the game-winning triple.
“I always enjoy myself out here. It’s always real competitive and we always learn something. We’re just a little disappointed we lost,” said Garza.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Westside Bandits 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 7 1
Arizona Smoke 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 5 1
WP: Lugo. LP: Draxton.
2B: Jenkins (WB), Treet (WB), Matson (AS).
SAC: Luna (WB).
SB: Smartt (WB), Murrieta 2 (AS).
Leading Hitters: Bandits – Castanon 2×2, Smartt 1×3, Treet 1×4. Smoke – Pena 2×3; Strauss 1×3; Murrieta 1×3.
LOB: Bandits 8; Smoke 7
Total game time: 2:06