Chicago Royals 9, Miami Marlins 7
‘MVP Fernando Toomer Leads the Way’
By Mike Camunas, special to MSBL National
January 19, 2015-Kissimmee, FL — It took holding off a late rally, but the Chicago Royals held on to a 9-7 lead to defeat the Miami Marlins and win the 2015 Holiday Classic 45+ Championship at Champion Stadium at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex.
Led by MVP Fernando Toomer, who had a single, a triple and a sacrifice fly while driving in four runs, the Royals used a three-run sixth and a two-run seventh to build an 8-3 lead.
However, the Marlins staged a late rally with a four-run eighth that closed the lead to 8-7, but an insurance run and a save by P.J. McQuillin gave the Royals its first 45+ championship and the first by a team not the Boston Wolfpack in the past four years.
“The rally would’ve been more valuable if it had been earlier,” said Marlins manager and starting pitcher George Kehnan, who threw a complete game, giving up nine runs on 12 hits. “Those big innings by them made it a little too big for us to come back from. It was probably inches from being different, too.”
The Marlins had a chance to take the lead, but lined out with bases loaded and two outs that ended the eighth-inning rally.
“We had a lot of heart and we fought all the way through,” Kehnan said. “We’re all going to be back and we’re going to try to do this all over again.”
The Marlins were able to knock off defending champion Wolfpack by narrowly defeating them 8-7 thanks to four-run first and second innings.
On Monday the Royals started Kal Tate on the mound and he would pitch seven-plus innings and give up five runs on 13 hits.
The Marlins had the lead three times, but each time the Royals tied it up until it was 3-3 and Chicago then took the lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“This is a long time coming,” Toomer said. “We had to fight to get here, had to fight to come from behind. We’re always fighting to get here and it paid off and it feels great to win a championship.”
Last year the Royals lost to the Wolfpack in the same game, so manager Mike Torresso was just glad to face a different team, even one just as a good as the Marlins.
“It was a tight game the whole way through,” Torresso said. “They tied it up, we tied it up and it came down to guys stepping up in the clutch. It was even more important that we put down the throttle and didn’t stop and got the runs, even the one in the bottom of the eighth.”
“We were ready for either team, but this Miami team was also very tough. They fought hard and they had their chances to win this, too.”
Torresso also said it was an easy call to name Toomer the MVP.
“He’s been tearing it up all week and had one heck of game (Monday),” Torresso added. “He’s a no-brainer at MVP and he is just one of the great players we have.”