2016 18+ National

Atlanta Reds 4, Long Island Tides 1

‘Parrish Complete Game Secures Crown’

By Chris Errington, Special to MSBL National

November 6, 2016, Bright House Field, Clearwater, FL – A pitcher’s demand and a controversial call against them made all the difference for the Atlanta Reds. The result was a championship their manager swears was never in doubt.

Andrew Parrish (2-0) tossed his second complete game of the tournament and the Reds scored four times in the eighth inning to secure a come-from-behind 4-1 victory over the Long Island Tides. The victory was the fourth straight in the division for an Atlanta-based team and the first for the Reds. The Georgia Cherokees won back-to-back titles before the Atlanta Barons captured last year’s championship.

Trailing 1-0, Parrish learned he was to be replaced on the mound as he bounded the dugout steps to start the seventh inning. Infuriated, the right-hander won his battle with manager Don Pike to remain in the game. “I got pissed and threw my stuff when I heard,” Parrish said. “I told Don, ‘When we get to this point, in a championship game, the ball is all mine.’ “When [Parrish] gets pissed off, that’s when he’s on a whole different level,” Pike said. “He told me, ‘You’re not taking me out,’ so I didn’t.” It was clearly the correct move.

Parrish got through the next two innings without a run to set the stage for the critical bottom of the eighth. Despite allowing only one hit to that point, Long Island starting pitcher Tim Blackmon was replaced with relief ace and Long Island MSBL league MVP CJ Ferriggi. Dion Tenney promptly greeted him with a double off the left-field wall, setting the stage for the game’s most controversial play.

Tyler Massey struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt and raced for first. When catcher Robert De La Hoz’s throw struck Massey, the ball caromed past first allowing Tenney to score the tying run. However, before Atlanta could finish its celebration, Massey was called out for runner interference and Tenney was sent back to second. Reds players streamed from the dugout, tempers flared and a starter was ejected. Eventually calm was restored, but the damage was done – only the Tides didn’t know the call that went their way would ultimately cost them the game.

“There’s no doubt that play fired us all up,” Pike said. “They said [Massey] threw his hand up to block the ball and we knew he didn’t. After that, the guys were determined to get it done.”

Instead of folding, the Reds dug in. Joe Wilson was hit by a pitch and Rocco Callaway hit a sharp comebacker that Ferriggi reached behind him to grab. However, when the pitcher’s throw to third to force out Tenney was errant, the bases were loaded. A walk tied the game 1-all and when Franklin German’s potential inning-ending double play resulted in a second throwing error, Atlanta had its first lead. William Scott followed by beating out an infield single to score another run and when German raced all the way from second to beat the throw home, the Reds’ four-run explosion was complete. All that was left was for Parrish to set Long Island down in the ninth to earn a championship almost no one other than Pike thought was possible when the eighth inning began.

“I just had this feeling after the [semifinal victory over Atlanta MSBL rival Atlanta Barons] that it was all ours,” the manager said. “Even in the eighth, I didn’t think we’d lose. I knew we’d find a way to pull it out.” For Long Island manager Max Feinberg, the decision to replace his starter when Pike kept his in the game, was one he never second-guessed.

“It’s definitely disappointing to lose, but we know seven is where [Blackmon] is comfortable,” Feinberg said, “CJ’s been our horse all year and he got the pitches today. We just didn’t make the plays behind him. When you play in a tournament like this, you’ve got to play all 27 outs. You know the final six outs aren’t going to be easier to get than the first 21.”

Mike Rachun broke a scoreless tie in the sixth when he stroked a 3-1 fastball to center to score Joe Guido with two outs. But when Parrish left the bases loaded by striking out the next Tides’ batter, Long Island’s one and only offensive threat ended.

Both teams completed round-robin play 3-1, with Atlanta defeating the Coral Gables A’s 7-4 in the playoffs and the Barons 6-3 in the semifinals behind Nick Squeglia’s stellar 7.1 inning effort.

Long Island reached its first final in thrilling fashion, defeating both the Cherokees 5-4 (10 innings) and Tampa Thunder 1-0 on walk-off wild pitches. Matt Soren earned the shutout victory.

Long Island    000      001      000 – 1 5 2

Atlanta           000      000      04x – 4 4 3

WP: Parrish (2-0). LP: Ferriggi. 2B: Tenney (ATL). Pitching: Blackmon, Ferriggi (8), Lowe (8) and De La Hoz (LI). Parrish and Massey (ATL).