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2016 35+ National

AJW White Sox 7, Montebello Angels 5

‘Russell and Evans Hold Down the Angels’

By Russ Christ, Special to MSBL

October 22, 2016, Tempe Diablo Stadium – This might be Cleveland’s year.  Just ask Kevin Howard.  Howard, a hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians and a former journeyman minor league player from Thousand Oaks, Calif., made several spectacular plays at shortstop.  He also knocked in a run with a double in the five-run first to lead the AJW White Sox to a 7-5 win over the Montebello Angels in the 35 plus National Division of the 29th MSBL World Series at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Howard’s defense helped him earn MVP honors and also allowed teammate Eddie Russell, another former professional, to record the win. “It’s a lot easier to play defense when your pitcher works quick and throws strikes,” said Howard, who played for eight minor league organizations and two independent league teams.

Russell was never threatened until the ninth when he left the game after allowing two runs.The Angels had the tying run on first when lefty Lou Evans relieved Russell to earn the save. “I think I was just trying to keep my composure as much as possible, jump ahead of hitters and establish my cutter,” Russell, 38, said.Russell, who lives in San Francisco and works for the City of Sacramento, worked seven perfect innings in all and struck out seven. He allowed three unearned runs in the second and left the game after the Angels (3-5) scored their fourth and fifth runs on hits by Louie Gonzalez and Javier Gamboa. “My legs were kind of tired at that point,” Russell said. “I wanted to compete. But this means so much. A lot of these guys are really close friends of mine and we live for this trip every year.”

The White Sox, 5-2, started strong, as they have all week.  They forced Angels starter Cisco Vega out of the game in the first as Chris Grossman, Jason Landreth, Howard, Rob Hirsh and Alfonso Quintor, the team’s co-manager, reached base on hits.  Hirsh’s two-run double down the right field line was key.

Marlen Foster, the AJW’s other co-manager, said the focus all week was great pitching and defense. And early leads.  “For us it’s all about our pitching,” Foster said. “We have a very deep staff. And for Eddie to only allow a couple earned runs and shut down their bats is great. They don’t give up. He pitched great. One thing we’ve been able to do with this team all week is establish a lead right from the beginning and that’s what we did today.”

Quintor, 48, who went 1-3 with an RBI, was ecstatic.  “For me it’s all about the team and the longevity I’ve had with many of my players,” he said. “To come out here and do it and persevere is a great feeling. It’s nice to be able to come and participate like you’re a Major League Baseball player. In my mind I felt like (today) was a sell out at Yankee Stadium.”

Angels         0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 —5

White Sox   5 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 x —7

Double: K. Howard, R. Hirsh (White Sox); Gamboa (Angels)

SB: C. Grossman, K. Howard

SAC Bunt:N. Gontmeyer (White Sox)

SAC Fly: J. Landreth (White Sox)

DP: White Sox

Key Stats:J. Gamboa 3-4, RBI, L. Gonzalez 2-4, RBI (Angels): R. Hirsh 1-3, 2 RBI; C. Grossman 2-4, A. Quintor 1-3, RBI

WP: Eddie Russell

LP: Cisco Vega

Save: Lou Evans