Maryland Monarchs 5, Tampa Blue Jays 2
‘Three-run Ninth Puts Game Away’
By Andy Villamarzo, special to MSBL
Dunedin, FL., November 5, 2016 – In what started to look more and more like a pitching duel, turned into a runaway contest in the 45-and-over championship game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium played on a cool, breezy Saturday morning.
The Maryland Monarchs trailed early in the contest, but were able to rally together four unanswered runs from the fifth inning on and came away winning the 45-and-over American championship against the Tampa Blue Jays. The Monarchs relied upon the right arm of workhorse Vincent Towns, who pitched nine strong innings for Maryland in Friday’s semifinals. Towns, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, stepped in and pitched nearly four innings of shutout ball and helped seal the win for Maryland.
“I felt alright. I had a sore arm heading into the game,” Towns said. “I had good offense behind me. All I had to do was keep the ball down and away from the hitters and let the guys do the rest. It took us a long time for us to do it , but we have a lot of good hitters and pitchers, and that’s what got us through this.”
The last time this particular Monarchs group had won a championship together was when they were in the 28-and-over division. That was 10 years ago in 2006 and now fast forward to 2016, and it took Maryland just under three hours to bring home the trophy. It would take a comeback effort to win the title, though, against the Blue Jays.
“They just coming back over and over at us,” Tampa Blue Jays coach David Castro said about the Maryland Monarchs. “They played well and deserved to win.”
Maryland’s Mike Taylor opened up the scoring for the Monarchs, as he doubled home Towns in the top of the second inning. Not too long later, however, in the bottom of the second inning, Tampa struck back with a run of its own when the Blue Jays called the squeeze play and that plated Yamil Concepcion on Pedro Concepcion’s sacrifice bunt. With the score even at 1-all, the contest seemed destined for a pure pitching showcase. That would not be the case down the stretch.
With the game tied up at 2-2 heading into the top of the ninth frame, all signs were pointing to extra innings, but the Monarchs’ bats got hot at the right time. Dwayne Contee’s squad were able to string together four hits and three runs off Tampa pitching and the highlight of the inning would be a triple hit by Javier Barreto. The damage was enough for Towns to close out the bottom of the ninth quietly and pickup his second win in two days for the Monarchs.
“That was enough for Vincent (Towns) to come in and close down the doors,” Contee said of the three runs scored in the top of the ninth inning. “I asked (Vincent Towns) yesterday if he could come back and give me a couple innings. He came in and finished the game strong. He’s a horse.”
“It’s great to win a championship. We pretty much come down here every year. Our last win was in the 28-and-over division back in 2006 and it’s great. I’m hoping we can carry this over into next year.”