Tri-Valley Giants 2, Raleigh Braves 1

‘Bull Dog’ Delzer Holds Down the Braves’

Editor’s note: This story is a little different in how we will convey their game. The Tri-Valley Giants started their week 0-3 and ran the table to the championship. Giants manager Art Scears wrote a special tribute to the week and we are posting his words and not our traditional reporter coverage. 

Submitted by Art Scears, Tri-Valley manager

After our first three games of pool play on Monday and Tuesday, we were looking at an 0 and 3 record. We lost the first game 5-4 even though Eddie Delzer pitched an absolute gem. The next two games we didn’t play solid defense, which always kills good pitching, and we found out how tough the competition was. So, we started by winning our two games on Wednesday, and then the final pool play game on Thursday to make it to the semi-finals on Friday.

The starting pitching by Billy “Hawk” Hawkins, Mike Pankow, and Eddie “Bull dog” Delzer was outstanding. In two crucial spots as a closer, pitcher Fernando “Nando” Naranjo closed game four in a tight situation with the winning run in the on deck circle and the bases loaded. Nando then gave us three strong innings in game five to shut down a very strong Panthers team.

Our run began with our leadoff batter, Tom Schaffer, who seemingly was always on base. If he didn’t initially hit a double he would steal second base. Mazen “Maz” Barbari (World Series MVP) was an absolute spark to the team by hitting the ball hard, taking extra bases, and playing stellar defense. Demetrius Adams, David Lukrich, River Acciaioli, Loren Peterson, Dean Allman, Manny Lopez, Mike Auer, Stephen Camp, Scott Roix, and Fernando Naranjo all came through with key hits. David Lukrich, River Acciaioli, Tom Schaffer, and Maz Barbari all made brilliant plays in the outfield. Infielders Steve Reno, Demetrius Adams, Mike Auer, Jon Burchett, Scott Roix, and Stephen Camp were defensively sound. Catchers Manny Lopez and Rick Carlson were outstanding.

In the Semi-Final game (Tri-Valley Giants 10, Gamblers 2), Billy Hawkins pitched all nine innings. He gave up one earned run on nine scattered hits and two walks. In the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded Hawkins crossed up catcher Manny Lopez and the ball went to the back stop. Lopez threw the ball to Hawkins who dove head first into home plate to catch the ball and tag out the runner. In the bottom of the ninth with the game well out of reach, we witnessed a play that maybe a handful of players in the 45 division can make. With a man on first, a fly ball was hit to deep center field. The runner on first got off the bag about ten feet when the ball was caught. Center fielder River Acciaioli threw a BB to first baseman Stephen Camp for the double play and the final out! The runner made a point of coming over after the game to say that the play was absolutely incredible (which it was).

In the Championship game, “Bull Dog” Eddie Delzer pitched a complete game giving uponly one run on three hits and one walk. The defense was equally impressive. Third baseman Steve Reno made at least three game-changing stops on hard hit balls down the line. First baseman Stephen Camp made stretch after impressive stretch, picking a couple of low and/or wide throws, and made some unassisted plays as well. In the fourth inning left fielder David Lukrich got on his horse and ran down an absolute shot toward the left field corner. The runner had already rounded second and would have scored if David had not made the diving circus catch! In the fifth inning River Acciaioli had a spectacular play of his own, running down a ball hit deep in the left center gap (about 340 feet) with a runner on base and two outs.

As for our offense in the Championship Game, we scored a run in the first when Tom Schaffer hit a ball the opposite way to left and stretched a single into a double. River Acciaioli sacrificed him to third base, and David Lukrich hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field to score Schaffer. In the top of the fifth, with the score tied 1-1 and one out,Manny Lopez hit a single and eventually was moved over to second base on a single by Dean Allman. With two outs, Stephen Camp hit a fly ball double to left center, which plated Lopez, and scored what was to be the winning run for the Giants.

The Raleigh Braves made many impressive plays all day and their starting pitcher was outstanding.