Long Island Panthers 9, Red Deer Legends 5

‘Heinemann and Steifel Lead the Way on the Bump’

By Russ Christ, Special to MSBL

October 21, 2016, Phoenix, Ariz. – What’s the adage? Good things come to those who wait is an English phrase extolling the virtue of patience. And because of it Greg Goodman is glad, even giddy enough to rib his starting pitcher.

At Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix the Long Island Panthers, no hit through five by lefty Harold Northcott, rallied to beat the Red Deer Legends 9-5 in a 50 Cactus Division 2016 MSBL World Series championship game.

Goodman, the manager and catcher for the 5-3 Panthers, a team with players from nine states, merged with the Chicago North Cubs in 2015. The decision has worked well. The Panthers scored two runs in the sixth, four in the seventh and three in the eighth to pull away from the Legends, who traveled to Arizona from Canada. Goodman did his part, calling pitches and getting on base.

With his team trailing 3-2 in the seventh, Goodman singled down the right field line to start the inning. Five singles later (Gary Dover, Angelo Lees, Billy Dew, Mike Baltieri and Mike Gonzalez) and the Panthers led 6-3. Reliever Keith Szautner suffered the loss.

“It’s a patient team,” Goodman said. “We tell them to take some pitches and drive up the pitch count.” Goodman’s starter, southpaw Rob Heinemann, a retired police Sergeant from Long Island who now lives in North Carolina, earned the win, leaving the game in the seventh. Heinemann said his arm was sore. “It’s from pitching earlier in the week,” he said. “But we got the job done with great defense. And Greg called a great game behind the plate. They never backed down.”

During the post-game interview Goodman had some fun with his pitcher, using sarcasm to get in a few playful insults. “We call him the ‘big dummy’ because he throws an Eephus pitch, but he always throws it at the wrong time,” Goodman quipped. “We say he throws a ‘dufus’ pitch. But one thing to note about Rob is that he’s picked off over 15 runners this week.”

Alden Steifel allowed only two runs in relief. “That’s the second time this week we were no-hit through five or six,” Steifel said. “We kept at it. We don’t give up. Their lefty was tough. It was a good comeback for us. We were a little tired.”

Managed by Blair Hanna, Red Deer, located between Calgary and Edmonton, leaned on Northcott for as long as possible. “Harold pitched really great,” Hanna said. “He tired a bit. We battled. If it wasn’t for that one inning we’d be fine.”

Hanna’s team scored a run in the first, then two more in the fifth. Craig Cory doubled in two runs with a double. Northcott’s deft array of off-speed pitches dominated play until the sixth. That’s when Gonzalez, the clean up hitter, ended the no-hit bid with a line drive to right center. It was just the beginning for Long Island.

Bruce Grossman and Heinemann singled. Ron Daniel reached on an error. Randy Kleiman was hit by a pitch. Red Deer led 3-2.

Baltieri knocked Szautner out of the game in the seventh with a two-run, line drive single to right field to put Long Island ahead 5-3. In the same inning Steifel executed a SAC bunt. Lees tied the score at three, scoring Goodman with a hit. Dew singled. Then Baltieri’s rope to right put the Panther’s ahead for good.

Long Island   0 0 0 0 0 2 4 3 0 —9

Red Deer 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 —5

Double: M. Criscione (LI), C. Cory (RD), S. Selig (RD)

SB: R. Daniel, A. Steifel, S. Romeo (LI)

DP: Long Island (2)

SAC: A. Steifel

HBP: R. Kleiman (LI)

Key Stats: (LI): M. Baltieri 1-4, 2 RBI, M. Gonzalez 2-3, RBI, A. Lees 1-4, RBI, B. Grossman 1-4, RBI, M. Criscione 1-3, RBI, G. Goodman 1-3, RBI, G. Dover 1-2 (RD): C. Cory 1-4, 2 RBI, B. Braun 4-4, R. Cihlar 2-3, RBI, H. Beelan 1-3, K. Szautner 1-3, S. Selig 1-3, RBI, R. Sereda 3-4, RBI

WP: Rob Heinemann

LP: Harold Northcott