Paso Robles 5, Santa Clara Twins 3

‘Draxton Complete Game Seals the Deal’

By Russ Christ, Special to MSBL

October 23, 2016, Tempe Diablo Stadium – Reed Bright earned MVP honors, but pitching, as always, wins games. The beneficiary of a complete game from hard-throwing right-hander Erik Draxton, Paso Robles edged the Santa Clara Twins 5-3 in the 18+ National Division Championship of the 2016 MSBL World Series at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Paso Robles finished the week with a record of 6-2, the same as the Twins. Their ace, Draxton, a resident of Park City, Utah, allowed a single run in the second and two more in the sixth. But the play of the game came in the bottom of the eighth when the Twins, trailing 4-3, loaded the bases.

Rick Mcdowell walked, Mike Hoefs singled and Jordan Hinshaw singled. It looked like the Twins would tie the game at a minimum against Paso Robles, a team named for their home city in San Luis Obispo County, California. One out later Corey Kingston hit a fly ball to Bright, who was waiting for it in right field. Bright caught the ball, pivoted and unleashed a bullet to home plate to double off Mcdowell. The Twins’ threat was over.

“I thought he was going to tag so I threw it home and got lucky I guess,” Bright said. “It was a little off line, but the catcher made a great play and made the tag.” Bright’s pitcher and manager were impressed. “That’s a huge play right there,” Draxton said. “We’ve been out here all week giving that kind of effort and making plays.” Marc Smith, Paso Robles’ manager, said of the throw: “It was an amazing play.”

Paso Robles tacked on an insurance run in the ninth to go up 5-3. Sundrendy Windster, who also doubled and scored in the fourth, walked, stole second and scored on single by Juan Carlos Medina. “That gave me a little more breathing room,” Draxton, 29, said. “It let me get after the bottom half of the order more.”

Draxton allowed eight hits, struck out eight and walked four, while Brandon Williams went 3-4 and Javier Gamboa added two RBI. “A lot of it is just grinding it out,” Draxton said. “You have to go after hitters time after time and don’t give in.” Draxton also threw nine innings on October 21, but didn’t seem tired in the championship game. He allowed two runs in the sixth, struck out the side in the seventh and pitched a perfect ninth to cement the win. “After he got through the seventh I knew he was going all nine,” Bright said. “The team played well and made plays behind the pitcher.”

Derek Eaton, who allowed four runs in five innings, suffered the loss for the Twins, who were managed by Raymond Montez.

Smith managed a team last year that won a championship in extra innings with Draxton throwing the first nine. He loved the effort from his ace. “I mean what can you say about Draxton,” Smith said. “He’s the best out here. Control, good velocity. He’s an amazing talent.”

We started the tournament off and didn’t pitch well and were pretty horrible,” Smith continued. “We thought that was going to be our Achilles’ heel, but we pitched stronger and stronger as the tournament went on.”

Paso Robles  1 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 —5

SC Twins        0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 —3

SAC Bunt: L. Santos (2) (PR)

SB: S. Windster and B. Williams (PR)

HBP: C. Kingston (SC)

DP: Paso Robles (2)

Key Stats: (SC) J. Hinshaw: 2×3, R. McDowell 2×3, G. Sheppard 1×4, RBI; (PR) J. Gamboa 1×3, 2 RBI, J. Medina 1×4, 2 RBI, B. Williams 3×4

WP: Erik Draxton

LP: Derek Eaton