Minnesota Lumberjacks 11, Sacramento White Sox 6
‘Wangler and MVP Schmidt Lead the Way’
By Jason Johnson, Special to MSBL National
October 22, 2016, Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, Ariz. – Even though baseball doesn’t have a clock the Minnesota Lumberjacks were playing a game within the game trying to not only win their first World Series championship but do it quickly enough so many of their players could catch their scheduled flights home back to Minnesota. They accomplished both by defeating the Sacramento White Sox 11-6 in two hours and sixteen minutes
“We don’t need a lot of walks or 3-2 counts,” said Lumberjacks co-manager Tom Genrich before the game. “We’ve got to keep it crisp.”
Minnesota’s starting pitcher and other co-manager Ken Wangler got off to a rocky start allowing four runs in the first inning and another in the second digging the Lumberjacks into a five-run hole early on. Warren Alston was involved in two of the four runs in the first inning for the Sox when hit an RBI single and later stole home on a delayed double steal. Pete Petzig also singled in a run and the scoring parade was capped off on a sacrifice fly by Matt Spanner.
After taking a five-run lead the White Sox had to feel good because they also had their lucky charm with them –penguins. At their hotel in Arizona the housekeeping staff would leave a penguin figurine on the table when they cleaned the room and after starting 0-4 they decided they needed a boost and brought the small penguin figurine with them to the ballpark. After that, they kept winning and for the championship game they added a second penguin to double their luck.
“We started winning when we brought the penguins so we just kept going with it!” exclaimed White Sox manager Ken Hutchison.
Maybe it was the unseasonably warm Arizona temperatures that were pushing triple digits that sapped the good luck from the Sox’s cold weather friends or simply the Lumberjacks’ bats heating up but the Minnesota team would score nine unanswered runs over a three inning span. During the Lumberjack offensive explosion Kris Gistad and Matt Carter each drove in three runs. Cleanup hitter Bill Hausmann also drove in two and got a case of happy feet when he raced around the bases for an inside the park homer to center field.
After the first two innings Wangler settled down allowing just one run and two hits over the final seven frames to secure the complete game victory and get his teammates to the airport on time for the flight back home to Minnesota where it’s probably cold enough for real penguins.
“After falling behind early I wasn’t put off by it because I knew our offense would chip away at it,” said Wangler. “I felt extremely fresh and knew I needed to throw strikes because we had to keep the game moving. Once we got the lead I felt like we were going to keep it.”
Minnesota named Randy Schmidt their team MVP for the tournament. He played all three outfield positions and second base during their run in Arizona and he drove in two runs in the championship game.
“Every time he (Schmidt) steps to the plate something is going to happen,” said Wangler. “He hits like a champ. He’s a big time player and it’s fun to watch him.”
During pool play the Lumberjacks played to a 3-3 record. After losing 20-4 to the Puget Sound Reds to drop their third game the Lumberjacks fell behind 10-1 to the Puget Sound Yankees in their final game of pool play. However, Minnesota was able to rally and overcome the nine-run deficit to earn their third win of the tournament and gain momentum heading into the playoffs.
In pool play the White Sox lost their first four games and battled back to win their last two heading into the playoffs to finish 2-4. The Sox credit their penguins for the run but nevertheless it was an impressive run to the playoffs and eventually the championship game.
In the semifinal the Lumberjacks defeated the Dallas Rangers(3-4 record) 22-7 in a slugfest to earn a berth in the championship game. The game was close early on but both teams were short on pitching and the Rangers just ran out of gas by the end.
“What we’ve found this year is that this was the best competition we’ve faced,” said Genrich. “We have a pitcher that played 25+ leagues the last couple of years and he was surprised at how good the hitters are in 35+. When you’re playing at this age you’ve been playing a while and you know how to hit. It’s usually the last thing that goes.”
The White Sox defeated the Houston-SC Marauders 12-4 in the semifinal to get into the championship game.
WP:Wangler LP: Gallo
3B:Gigstad (ML), Kamrath (ML)
Leading Hitters: Lumberjacks – Gigstad 3×4, 3 RBI, 2 R; Carter 2×5, 3 RBI; Hausmann 2×5, 3B, HR, 2 RBI. White Sox – S. Spanner 2×4; Alston 2×4, RBI; Heal 1×3, 3 RBI.
SF:M. Spanner (SWS), Heal (SWS), Lundgren (ML)
SB: S. Spanner 2 (SWS), Payne (SWS), Alston (SWS), Lawrence (SWS), Lundgren 2 (ML), Kresser (ML), Gentrich (ML)
Team LOB:White Sox 7, Lumberjacks 7
Time of Game: 2:16