2015 Desert Classic: 25+

San Jose Brew Crew 9, San Diego Knights 8

‘Esparza and Hernandez Power the Brew Crew’

By Britten Gerrard, special to MSBL National

January 19, 2015, Palm Springs, CA-After being down 5-0 and 7-3 early in the game, the San Jose Brew Crew rallied to beat the San Diego Knights 9-8 to claim the 25+ Wood Desert Classic championship at Rancho Mirage High School in the Palm Springs, CA area.

The win feels extra special for several members of the Brew Crew, who have come up short the last three years in the Desert Classic despite winning titles together at other tournaments. “It feels great and I’m happy we took this one because we were finalists a couple years ago and ate the dust last year,” Brew Crew manager Brian Feduk said.

The victory didn’t come easy however for the Bay area squad, who allowed five runs in the second inning and two more in the third.

Behind sluggers Hector Esparza and Jeremy Hernandez, the Brew Crew slowly bounced back with three runs in both the second and third innings to cut the deficit to 7-6. Esparza finished with three hits, three RBIs and a run while Hernandez added three hits, two runs and an RBI for the Brew Crew, who finished 4-1 over the weekend en route to the championship.

In the fourth inning, Casey Ramback walked with one out and Ray Montez hit an RBI-triple to tie the game at 7-7. Eddie Newman followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Brew Crew the lead, which they held for the rest of the game. Esparza drove in Jordan Romero in the seventh inning for the insurance run. “We couldn’t give up especially after the second inning,” Feduk said. The guys just kept at it and put the ball in play and we know what our offense can do and we did a good job of picking each other up.”

Travis Bearden, who registered an RBI-single for the Brew Crew, said his team felt confident knowing they have a lot of really good hitters. “We know based on history that championship games are usually high scoring because everyone usually runs low on pitching towards the end so we just kept chipping away,” Bearden said.

The San Diego Knights made the game interesting in the top of the eighth inning when Mike Lange hit an RBI-double that drove in Mike Scharbarth to make it 9-8. However the Knights had a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth as Brew Crew pitcher Michael Monelo finished the game with three strong innings. Lange hit a two-run home run to right-field in the third inning for the Knights. Nick Nunez (two hits, RBI), John Wagner (two hits), Britton Scheibe (RBI-single), Eric Bloom(RBI-single) and Brian Eastman (RBI-single) also contributed offensively for San Diego.

“We fought hard but we have to give San Jose some credit,” Knights manager Scheibe said. “They took advantage of some mistakes we made and pushed some runs across and we were unable to take advantage of the opportunities we had and fell a run short.”

Despite the loss, Scheibe was proud of his team’s performance. “We came in as a four seed so we had to play an extra game and we ran a little short on pitching but I’m proud of way we competed.”

Both teams spoke highly of the Desert Classic and said it’s one of their favorite tournaments of the year. “It’s a well-run tournament as the weather and the fields are nice and the umpires did a great job,” Bearden said. “It’s fun to take a vacation in 70-degree weather and enjoy ourselves while playing baseball.”