Chicago Fire TSP 8, Portland Volcanoes 3
‘Heinzl and Karras Lead the Way’
By MSBL staff writers (photos by Mary Lu Roffe)
November 7, 2015, Riverview Park, Mesa, AZ. – The Chicago Fire TSP was the top seed in the 60-over central division but were far from dominant. Boasting a 5-1 round robin record, they escaped a couple of nail biters along the way and ended up in the big game against the Portland Volcanoes, a team they defeated in the round robin 11-7 earlier in the week. The Fire started fast and held on to notch a convincing 8-3 victory over the Volcanoes and win the title.
George Karras started on the hill for the home team Fire and recorded a 1,2,3 first inning while the Fire got on the board behind a double by Bobby Buffa and a Ron Piacenti single to go up 1-0. After Karras shut down the Volcanoes in the second on one hit, third baseman John Heinzl started things off with a double for the Fire and eventually came around to score to make it 2-0 after two.
Things stayed that way until the fourth inning when three hits led to another two runs for the Fire, as they took control with a 4-0 lead and Karras in charge on the mound. There was more to come in the fifth inning as Wes Thomas started things off with a double and John Heinzl came through yet again with an RBI single to add to the lead and make it 6-0 after five.
Momentum started to change in the top of the sixth as the Volcanoes erupted for two runs on two hits. Things could have been even more interesting but Karras picked a runner off second base to end the rally. The Fire answered, however, with a single and a double by Piacenti to plate a run to take a little wind out of the Volvanoes sails, making it 7-2 after six.
Karras, who also doubles as the lead-off hitter and shortstop, ran out of gas while Curt Thompson came in and threw a successful seventh and eighth inning of shutout ball to keep the Volcanoes looking up from a pretty large hole. The Fire were able to add another run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 8-2 going into the top of the ninth with a comfortable cushion.
The top of the ninth got a little interesting with a couple of critical errors and a couple of walks by the Fire relief corps, as the Volcanoes saw an opportunity and showed some definite signs of life. But with bases loaded and one out, a come-backer to the pitcher resulted in a 1-2-3 double play and the championship for the Chicago-based team.
John Heinzl was a perfect 3 for 3 at the plate while Bobby Buffa was 2 for 2 with two walks. Chuck Scheidt was also a perfect 2 for 2 and three-hole hitter Ron Piacenti added a 2 for 3 day. Geroge Karras got the win with his six innings of dominant work on the bump.