Central Ohio Reds 1, Puerto Rico D’backs 0 (11 Innings)
‘Pitcher’s Duel Ends in 11 Innings’
By Steve Potter, Special to MSBL National
November 12, 2016, DiMaggio Field, Clearwater, FL – An old fashioned pitcher’s duel broke out in this one as Central Ohio’s Dan Zelinski and Puerto Rico’s Pedro Feliciano matched zeros on the scoreboard. Zelinski was brilliant as he pitched 11 innings of shutout baseball yielding just five hits. He kept the Diamondback hitters off balance with seemingly effortless pitching mechanics and form mixing well placed fastballs and a slider that forced hitters to hit 17 ground outs in the game. His overhand delivery put his pitches on target and continually forced infield outs. Shortstop Joe Beyer converted seven chances into outs. Third baseman Joe Horvat had three assists and three putouts while second baseman Steven Baker had three assists.
Meanwhile, Feliciano kept the Reds off the board going 8 1/3 innings yielding eight hits and no walks. He also used a mix of pitches with a different but equally effective three quarter arm delivery that resulted in ten fly ball outs. Right fielder Alfredo Esquilin made an outstanding running catch in foul territory to end the fourth inning and center fielder Michael Sanchez had four putouts including a nice running catch in the second inning. Feliciano stranded eight Red’s runners on base. He was replaced by Harry Bonhomme with one out and two runners on in the bottom of the ninth. Bonhomme worked out of the inning to preserve the 0-0 score at the end of nine frames and send the game into extra innings.Zelinski pitched two perfect frames in the 10th and 11th, in fact ending the game with seven consecutive outs. The Reds put runners on second and third with two outs in the tenth, keyed by a double off the bat of skipper Charles McCroskey, but could not score. In the 11th with one out Wyatt Culbertson singled, Horvat followed with a single which advanced Culbertson to third base and forced Puerto Rico to play its infield up. Adria Riley lined a single up the middle which scored Culbertson with the game winner and made the boys from Columbus the Fall Classic 35 plus Mountain-Jackets champions!
Roque Gonzalez had two hits in the game for Puerto Rico while Riley and Beyer had two knocks each for the Reds.
Reds Manager Charles McCroskey, who had three hits in the game, remarked afterwards, “Wow, eleven innings. We kept putting zeros up on the board. It was absolutely a great pitched game.” Winning pitcher Zelinski said, “I had an excellent slider today that dived down and my fielders did a great job making the plays behind me.”
Puerto Rico manager Kelvin Rivera said, “I appreciate the opportunity, my thanks to the tournament directors. We played hard and with heart but that’s baseball. 1-0, 11 innings, great game, the most beautiful game I have been a part of in my life. Thanks to God.”
As Kelvin said, the game was a terrific display of amateur baseball on a brilliant sunny day in Florida. Both teams played very well, there were only three errors total in the contest and also only two walks. As one of the Central Ohio fans stated it was a game where you really didn’t want either team to lose. From this observers point of view there were no losers in this game today. To me, a perfect epitome of MSBL baseball
Pool Play :
Central Ohio went 2-3 in Mountain Division One. Puerto Rico also went 2-3 in Mountain Division One. The two teams played against each other in pool play as well resulting in a 20-10 victory for Central Ohio.
Central Ohio advanced to the championship game with a 9-0 forfeit semifinal win over the Clearwater Black Sox who failed to field a team for the game. Puerto Rico defeated the Cincinnati Braves 6-3 in the other semifinal playoff game to advance.