South Dakota Rushmores 9, Sacramento Solons 8

‘Spratt Tosses Complete Game Victory for Title’

By Stefan Modrich, special to MSBL

Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, 10/24/15– Leadoff man Mike Spratt tossed a complete game for the South Dakota Rushmores, who withstood a late rally from the Sacramento Solons and clung to a 9-8 win to capture the 70+ National Division World Series championship on Saturday.

Spratt, from Woodlands, Texas, seemed to get better as the game went along – he struck out seven Sacramento hitters, two of which came in the seventh and eighth innings to stifle late rallies by the Solons.

South Dakota’s ace was aided by an offensive burst in the top of the first inning, when the Rushmores tagged Sacramento starter Ron Williams for seven runs. Williams was pulled after just one third of an inning for shortstop Irv Scott, who allowed just two runs the rest of the way in relief.

“We hung on,” manager John Larson said. “We took advantage of that first inning and laid on those runs.”

Sloppy defense doomed the Solons from the start, including a dropped fly ball and a wild pitch that scored Jim Lortz and an overthrow from Williams after he rushed to field an aptly-placed bunt down the first base line by Lew Ingalls.

To their credit, Sacramento turned a pair of double plays late – one a 6-4-3 in the eighth and the other a 5-4-3 in the ninth – keeping the game tight right until the very end, depriving South Dakota of an insurance run and putting the pressure on Spratt to deliver.

The South Dakota defense wasn’t perfect, but played a clean game down the stretch and kept the Solons off the scoreboard in the final three innings.

While Spratt humbly acknowledged the prowess of the fielders behind him, he was instrumental in preventing Sacramento from completing a comeback.

The Solons pounded 20 hits across nine innings against Spratt, but pitching to contact played to South Dakota’s strength – its infield defense. Even after singles from Ray Newman, Jim Hill, and Herb Epple loaded the bases with two outs, Spratt induced a meek dribbler back to the mound off the bat of Al Burges to retire the side, as Spratt calmly flipped the ball to catcher Howard Bich for the inning-ending force-out.

“The defense won this game,” Spratt said. “We had one of our best defensive games all week. I didn’t hit too well – the rest of the team did.”

Spratt also played a key part in plating the eventual winning run for South Dakota in the top of the sixth. Doug Stormo led off the frame with an infield single and advanced to second on Jack Sayles single. Spratt laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the go-ahead run 90 feet away and Lortz delivered by beating out a double-play ball that went 4-6 on the fielder’s choice and scored Stormo.

“(Spratt) came through in the clutch,” Larson said. “We did a pretty darn good job of fielding too.”

So too did Sacramento, tacking on four runs in the fourth inning courtesy of RBI doubles from Dave Sutherland and Don Frantz, who also drove in a run with a single in the third to bring home Sutherland after he opened the inning with a single to left center. But the Solons stranded 13 runners and failed to come any closer than within a single run after gradually chipping away at what appeared to be an insurmountable seven run first-inning deficit.

The Rushmores squandered their share of scoring opportunities, leaving 12 men on base. But the early cushion made South Dakota hitters comfortable and when it came time to grind out a pair of insurance runs that later proved vital to the win, they were poised to cash in.

“We’ve got hitters all the way through the lineup, nearly everybody had a hit,” Larson said. “We’ve got a swell team, a good bunch of guys and good athletes.”

Team                               1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9       R H E

South Dakota                 7 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0       9 16 4

Sacramento                    0 0 2 4 0 2 0 0 0       8 20  3Williams (SAC): .1 innings, 7 runs (4 earned) on 5 hits, Scott: 8.2 innings, 2 runs on 11 hits

Spratt (SD): 9 innings, 8 runs (5 earned) on 20 hits

WP: Mike Spratt LP: Ron Williams SV: N/A

HR: none

3B: none

2B: Bradshaw (SD), Clements (SD), Frantz (SAC), Sutherland (SAC)

Leading Hitters: Rushmores – Sayles (3 for 4), Bradshaw (4 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 run) Solons – Scott (4 for 5, 1 RBI, 3 runs) Sutherland (3 for 4, 1 RBI, 3 runs)

SAC: Spratt, (SD) Lortz, (SD) Ingalls, (SD)

SF: none

SB: none

Team LOB:

Sacramento: 13

South Dakota: 12

Time of Game: 2 hours, 54 minutes