2016 25+ Mountain

Arizona Smoke 6, Westside Bandits 3

‘Garcia Complete Game Completes Payback Victory’

By Patricia Garcia, special to MSBL National

November 6, 2016, Maryvale Stadium (Phoenix, Ariz.) – “Revenge is so much sweeter,” said Andy Garza, manager of the Arizona Smoke.

The Arizona Smoke redeemed themselves with a 6-3 victory over the Westside Bandits to claim a World Series Championship after losing to the LA-based Bandits in the same situation last year. The Smoke were led by starting pitcher Garcia who pitched nine complete innings, only allowing three runs.

“In this particular game we unfortunately didn’t play a clean game and made a couple of mistakes where they turned around and scored three runs,” said Robert Luna manager of the Bandits. “They were the better team today, their pitcher did an amazing job by going nine innings on us, but I’m proud of the effort our guys made.”

The Bandits almost came back. While the Smoke led 4-0, the Bandits’ center fielder Josh Mozey started off the seventh inning with a single, then advanced to second on a fly ball and third on a wild pitch. Shortstop Lupe Castanon then reached base after being hit by a pitch. Catcher David Treet hit a double to the center field wall to bring in two runs and would eventually score on a ground-rule double off the bat of third basemen Roger Akitoshi.

“It was really uplifting, we thought we were gonna get back into it,” Luna said. “We had a great tournament, we scored a lot of runs but the old adage rang true: ‘good pitching stops good hitting.’” And good pitching it was. Garcia struck out 13 of the 36 batters he faced.

“It’s always important to have your starting pitcher go deep in the game and for him to go the whole way was huge,” Garza said. “I didn’t have to turn it over to anybody else, not that I didn’t have confidence, but he was in control the whole way.”

“Last year Lester was the winning pitcher against the same team and this time around they beat us,” Luna said. “They’re a great team, there’s no doubt about that. They got it done this year and we didn’t.”

For the Smoke, this revenge-win was the result of hard work after a tough loss in 2015. “We played these guys last year in the championship and it was the other way around so we came back this year hoping to play them again and get a different outcome and we did,” Garza said. “Last year they were the better team, this year it was the other way around.”