Boston Cardinals 9, Orlando Lugnuts 4
‘Berroa Pitches Cardinals to Their First Title’
By Chris Errington, special to MSBL National
January 19, 2015, Orlando, FL – Looking for his first title and facing an Orlando Lugnuts opponent that’s quickly made a habit of championship game appearances, Boston Cardinals’ manager Rick Slamin knew exactly where to turn.
Yesson Berroa didn’t disappoint. And in the process, he and his teammates gained a measure of revenge. Berroa scattered nine hits and Boston capitalized on timely hitting and uncharacteristic Orlando miscues during a critical second inning to earn a 9-4 victory and clinch the 30-Over championship.
“I felt completely confident with him on the mound,” Slamin said of Berroa. “He’s one of our major aces in Boston. Winning the championship hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m not sure when it will, but I know it feels great already.”
Berroa, who was on the mound for last year’s semifinal loss to Orlando, mixed an often overpowering fastball with just enough off-speed pitches to keep a potent Lugnuts’ offense in check. Orlando, making its third title game appearance in three Holiday Classic at Disney tournaments – including winning last year’s championship – had scored 32 runs in the four previous games. However, it was held to a run in the first, two more in the second and a final run in the sixth. It wasn’t nearly enough to overcome a decisive top of the second.
A pair of Lugnuts errors and run-scoring singles from Johan Hernandez and Darwin Hernandez led to a six-run outburst and gave Boston a commanding 7-1 lead and effectively decided the outcome, even if Orlando believed otherwise.
“The difference this time [compared to last year’s semifinals] was they were making plays and we didn’t,” Orlando manager Chris Fisher said. “We knew it was still early and felt good about coming back. We’d scored runs all week, so we always feel like we’re in a game. But [Berroa] threw a lot of strikes and we just didn’t do enough offensively.”
Orlando did manage to cut the deficit to 7-4 in the sixth when Josh Neitz doubled with two outs and Dave Thomas went all the way to third on an infield throwing error. But when Berroa escaped further damage and team tournament MVP Melvin Mancebo and Joel Torres had run-scoring hits in the eighth, the lead grew to five and Berroa was home free.
“I was very confident,” Berroa said through an interpreter, “and I felt confident all the way through. The early runs helped me settle down. By the last inning, I wasn’t coming out for anything.”Both teams finished round-robin play 2-0-1, but while Orlando outscored its opponents by a combined 26-4, Boston had a much more difficult time. The Cardinals escaped with a one-run victory in their first game, then muddled through a 9-9 tie before entering the playoffs following a 5-2 win. Once there, second-seeded Boston blasted fourth-seeded Tampa Bay 7-2, while top-seeded Orlando rode Neitz’ complete-game effort to a 6-3 win over the sixth-seeded E.C. Cardinals.
Cardinals 160 000 020 – 9 10 2
Lugnuts 120 001 000 – 4 9 4
WP: Berroa. LP: Stevens. Pitching: Berroa and Mancebo (BC). Stevens and Prill (OL).