2015 45+ National

Chicago-Brooklyn Royals 10, Atlanta Braves 5

‘Landing’s Effort Seals the Title for the Royals’

By Chris Errington, special to MSBL

November 14, 2015, Clearwater, FL – With the game tied at five and a championship hanging in the balance, Lucius Landing never wavered and never worried. With the offense the Royals possess, he knew there was no reason. In the end, Landing was proven correct and Chicago-Brooklyn earned another championship.

“We’ve already won the 25 Nationals and 35 Nationals,” Landing said, “so we knew to stay calm. We’d been here before and we’ve played together so long that we know what to do. Nothing is new to us.”

Especially scoring late to pull out victories. After watching an early two-run advantage dissipate, Landing, who started at catcher, replaced starting pitcher Noel Areizaga in the sixth and promptly shut down the Atlanta bats. The righty tossed 3.2 innings of shutout ball, and when Chicago-Brooklyn plated a run in the bottom half of the sixth to tie the score at five, he became the focal point of the Royals title run.

“I knew once we brought [Landing] in, he’d throw a lot harder and would keep them off balance with his slider,” Chicago-Brooklyn manager Kal Tate said. “We all knew that once we got the lead, we’d shut them down.”

It took until the eighth for the worth of Tate’s confidence to pay dividends. Peter Balis and Tony Herron worked one-out walks, before leadoff man Chris Yates punched a single to left that plated pinch runner Glen Russell with the eventual winning run. Charle King followed with a two-run double to right-center and later scored on an infield error. The fifth and final run of the sudden outburst occurred when Paul Crump drilled an RBI single to right.  From there, it was just a matter of Landing setting the Braves down one more time to clinch the title in just the Royals second Fall Classic 45 division appearance.

“I just told the guys to keep swinging and it all worked out for us,” Tate said of the deciding eighth inning. “We had a feeling their lefty [starting Atlanta pitcher Jeff Sanders] would give us fits, because he did that to us the first time we played them [a 12-7 Braves round-robin victory]. We wanted to keep battling until he got tired and once they brought in the righty, we knew we’d get some hits.”

Sanders pitched well after surrendering single runs in the first and second, keeping a potent Royals lineup at bay long enough for the Braves to take a 4-2 lead. This occurred despite Atlanta leaving the bases loaded without scoring in the second and having a runner cut down at the plate to end the third.

Chicago-Brooklyn scored a pair of runs in the fifth, then answered an Atlanta run in the sixth to tie the game at five and set the state for the eighth-inning outburst that settled the issue. Atlanta manager Gus Dotsikas, who entered undefeated in three Fall Classic championship games, the last title coming in 2013, knew the early missed opportunities were critical. “It was very frustrating to not score early, because it could have made a huge difference in the game. We could have gotten the momentum on our side. Then in the eighth, we had some close pitches that turned into walks and that just put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

The victory capped a 6-2 week for Chicago-Brooklyn, which lost in the 2014 quarterfinals. This time, it reached the title game thanks to Tate’s complete game semifinal victory, a 12-3 decision. Meanwhile, Atlanta finished round-robin play 3-2 before defeating the Maryland Monarchs 9-1 behind Steffen Majer’s complete-game effort.

Atlanta                         0 0 0    2 2 1    0 0 0 –  5

Chicago-Brooklyn      1 1 0    0 2 1    0 5 x – 10

WP: Landing; LP: Craft. Pitching: Sanders, Craft, O’Brien and Bender (A). Areizaga, Landing and Landing, Trujillo and Crump (C-B). 2B: Goehrig and Bender (A); McGoy and King (C-B).