Paramount Pirates 7, LA Athletics 5
‘First Inning Balk Rattles Athletics’
By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL
November 1, 2015, Tempe Diablo Stadium – Sometimes one play, one pitch or one call can change the entire tenor of a game. Never was that more in evidence than what happened in the first inning of the Father/Son American championship game. With runners on second and third and one out, a balk was called on Los Angeles starter Tom Klawitter. The balk scored one run and moved another runner to third who would eventually score. The melee that ensued may have been far more damaging to the Athletics than the call that started it all.
Following the balk call, Athletics manager Bob Sherwin ran onto the field to address the umpire. Klawitter threw up his arms and looked on incredulously. A series of heated arguments that involved the entire umpiring crew, the manager and several players ensued. At the end of a nearly 15 minute delay, Sherwin and two players had apparently been ejected. When cooler heads prevailed, Sherwin was allowed to continue but the players were banished to watch the game from the stadium concourse. One of the players was Klawitter’s son, T.J. The other was Jimmy Barker.
“The umpire was responsible for taking the game out of our hands in the first inning,” said an embittered Sherwin. “He called a balk on an ex-major league pitcher who has never been called for a balk in his professional career nor in the 20 years that he has been coming here (Arizona).” Few lefties ever escape being found guilty of committing a balk. Klawitter is no exception. The record shows that he was actually called for 11 balks in 46 minor league games. The balk heard around MSBL came as Klawitter had apparently picked Salvador Esparza off of first base. Klawitter’s balk nullified the play and set the stage for the drama that followed.
The clearly rattled Athletics found themselves behind 7-1 after three innings. “That was the game after the first three innings,” said Sherwin. “We were able to get back in the game, but we left a lot of runners on base and have no one to blame but ourselves, but we shouldn’t have been in a hole to begin with.”
Ignoring, or perhaps capitalizing on the disruption, the Pirates used six hits, three walks, three Athletic errors and the fateful balk to pile on seven runs and take a commanding lead. After the first three innings, the Pirates only managed three base runners, none of which managed to get past first base. They hung on to win, 7-5. “This was the toughest game we played all week,” offered Pirate manager Refugio Esparza. “These guys just kept coming at us and never gave up even after giving up a 7-1 lead.”
Esparza keeps returning for the father and sons competition because it is a family affair. “This is the only time I get to see my son each year,” Esparza explained. “He lives in Louisiana and I live in L.A., so this is our only chance to get together.” Esparza made sure it was a happy reunion as he went 3×3 with two runs scored and two RBI. Tony Martinez and Rodrigo Mojarro each chipped in with a pair of hits for he winners. Mario Rodarte earned the win. His son, Mario Rodarte Jr. picked up the save and was named tournament MVP. “This was my third ring in a row,” beamed Rodarte. “I’ll keep coming back as long as my dad does and by then, maybe my son will be ready to play.”
The Pirates cruised to a 4-0 record in pool play and advanced to the final by beating San Jose 4-2 in the playoffs. The Athletics were 2-2 in pool play and defeated the Capital City Cardinals 6-4 in the playoffs.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
L.A. Athletics 0 0 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 5 14 4
Paramount Pirates 3 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 x 7 9 0
Tom Klawitter, D. Pawelek (3), Johnny Arnold (5) and A. Yoshinaga. Flores, Rodarte (5), Rodarte Jr. (9) and Landeros, Rodarte (9).
WP:Rodarte LP: Tom Klawitter SV: Rodarte Jr.
2B: Barker (LA); M. Pawelek (LA); Mojarro (PA); Martinez (PA)
Leading Hitters: Athletics- R. Klawitter 2×4, 2 R; T. Kopp 2×4, R; M. Pawelek 3×4, 2 R, RBI; J. Gonazlez 2×4, 2 RBI. Pirates- Esparza Jr. 3X3, 2 R, 2 RBI; Martinez 2×3, RBI; Mojarro 2×3, R.
SAC: S. Esparza (PA),
SF: Delcampo (PA); Rodarte Jr. (PA).
SB: Rodriguez 2 (PA).
Team LOB: Athletics 8; Pirates 4
Time of Game: 2:26