Brew City Rangers 15, Texas Redbirds 9
‘Milwaukee’s Best Makes it to the Top’
By Jason Johnson, special to MSBL
November 7, 2015, Tempe Diablo Stadium – Running the risk of becoming MSBL’s version of the Buffalo Bills the underdog Brew City Bat Rangers were able to get the monkey off their backs winning their first World Series championship in four appearances by beating the undefeated Texas Redbirds 15-9. Team MVP Dirk Thompson cashed in with runners on base throughout the day driving in four runs and leadoff hitter Mike Drilling was constantly setting the table reaching base four times and scoring three for the Rangers.
“It’s our fourth time to the rodeo and we just kept adding pieces,” said Rangers manager Mickey Pruefer. “Hats off to them but I guess it just wasn’t their day. Wow!”
Brew City started off the tournament losing their first two games and things were looking bleak. The team continued to battle however, and scratched their way to a 3-3 record heading into the playoffs.
With leadoff hitter Drilling wearing out the base paths Thompson was able to capitalize all day. In his last three plate appearances Thompson hit a sacrifice fly and hit two singles driving in three runs.
A critical moment in the game came in the top of the sixth inning with two outs and Anthony Arenz on second base when Matt Jacoby hit a shallow fly to center field. The Redbirds centerfielder charged in on it slid but was unable to reign it in and the floodgates opened. Following that play the Rangers had five consecutive hits led by two run singles from Marvin Oliver and Thompson which resulted in a six run inning.
“It was a tough loss,” said Redbirds manager Chris Hux. “Today we had letdowns in areas where we didn’t have any letdowns all week and they capitalized.”
Coming into the game the Redbirds were averaging over 10 runs a game but were held to just two runs over the first seven innings by Rangers starting pitcher Jerry Gambatese and relief pitcher Jeff Lemmermann. Down 15-2 in the eighth inning the Redbirds weren’t going down without a fight.
“Nobody got down and we kept at it,” said Hux. “We needed a little bit more but couldn’t get there.”
The Rangers bullpen walked seven batters in the last two innings leading to seven unanswered runs for the Redbirds. Jose Fernandez knocked a two run single to right field in the eighth to cut the deficit to 10. In the ninth when Rangers pitcher Pruefer walked the first three batters of the inning.
“I had too much juice and couldn’t throw strikes. It was like I was throwing paper airplanes,” laughed Pruefer. “It was time for me to get out of there and get the cagey vet that threw strikes and got us out of there.”
That cagey vet was Jim Barker, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounded as he walked the first batter he faced which drove in a run. After the bases loaded walk he settled down and was able to get out of the inning by getting Erik Cary to ground out end the game.
The Rangers struggled out of the gate losing their first two games but were able to bounce back and rally to a 3-3 record. Pruefer attributed much of the team’s success to their depth as they had 25 players on their roster and the brand of small ball they play winning with pitching and defense.
On the flip side, the Redbirds didn’t experience much adversity in pool play going 6-0 and averaging over 10 runs a game. Much of their success was due to timely hitting and taking advantage of other the other team’s mistakes. Jose Fernandez led the team batting .642 heading into the championship game.
During the semifinals the Rangers upset the California Hogs 7-5 with Dave Crawford earning the win and Lemmermann slamming the door for the save. Throughout the tournament the Rangers were playing close games and Pruefer felt that experience helped them in the semifinals.
The Redbirds continued their scoring tear in the semifinals defeating the Colorado Legends 15-1 to earn a berth in the championship game.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Brew City Bat Rangers 1 0 0 2 2 6 1 3 0 15 20 2
Texas Redbirds 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 4 9 5 2
Gambatese, Lemmermann, Crawford, Vernon, Pruefer, Barker. Kuss, Calvert, McGilvary.
WP:Gambatese. LP: Kuss.
3B: Arenz (BC).
2B: Thompson (BC), Arenz (BC), Urban (BC), Poe (TR), Miller (TR), Kuss (TR).
SF: Thompson (BC), Arenz (BC), Fernandez (TR).
SB: Oliver (BC), Arenz (BC).
Leading Hitters: Rangers – Drilling 4×5, 3 R; Thompson 4×4, 4 RBI; Arenz 4×4, 2 R, 2 RBI. Redbirds – Fernandez 1×3, 3 RBI; Rodriguez 0x2, 2 RBI.
LOB: Rangers 9; Redbirds 12
Total game time: 3:25