2016 55+ Cactus ‘Ring’ Division

Las Vegas 55’s 6, Team Albany 3

‘Gutierrez Gamble Pays Off’

By Russ Christ, Special to MSBL National

October 27, 2016, Mesa, Az. – The Las Vegas 55’s rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth to beat Team Albany 6-3 in the 55+ Cactus ‘Ring’ Division of the MSBL World Series championship game held at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. Both teams finished the week 7-2.

Team Albany pitcher Mike Gerard, 54, held Las Vegas to one run through eight, but was responsible for all five runs in the last frame. Prior to the ninth, the 55’s only run scored when Marco Gutierrez, the number three hitter and catcher, singled in the fourth. A pinch runner stole second and scored on an unearned run. The upstate New York team’s 3-1 lead held up for four more innings.

In the ninth, with one out, lead-off hitter Jim Rini, the second of 10 Las Vegas batters in the inning, walked. Steve Spelman then singled to right field and advanced into scoring position when the Albany right fielder misplayed his hit. “I lost the release point a little in the end,” Gerard said. “It was a bad time to do it.” That brought up Gutierrez, who was named MVP, with an open base. Gerard decided, wisely, to walk him intentionally.

But with the count 3-0, Gerard left his fourth pitch a little too close to the plate on the outside corner. Gutierrez swung, and pulled a sharp ground ball into left field to make it 3-2. “I thought three wide,” Gerard said, “and was trying to make sure I didn’t throw (the fourth) to the screen. He was standing on the inside line of the batter’s box waiting for one of those. He’s a hell of a hitter.” To his credit, Gutierrez went to the plate with a plan.

“When he threw me the first two balls,” Gutierrez said, “the third was a little bit closer and I knew he was tired and would make a little mistake. It’s the first time I’ve done it, but I took a chance.”

Benny Loyd walked to load the bases. Mike Magrisi got hit by a pitch to tie the game. Gerard then left the game for reliever T.J. Scorsone, who gave up RBI singles to brother’s Glen Ross and Dave Ross, making the score 5-3. After Bob Martin added another run with a single, Bruce Marchionda lined into a double play to end the inning.

Albany scored two runs in the bottom of the first to take a 2-0 lead off of 55’s starter Larry Bergren. Randy Craft doubled and then Girard, who went 4-4 with an RBI, singled and both men scored on Dave Mitchell’s two-run single.

Joe Sadovich, the 55’s manager who also serves as President of the Southern Nevada Baseball League, was impressed with his catcher all week. “He’s had big hits for us all tournament,” Sadovich said. “He came up to me before that at bat and asked me if he could swing if one came close. He called his shot!”

John Reel, Albany’s manager, said his team traveled to Arizona for the first time this year to see teammate Tom Maney, 61, who went 2-2, get inducted into the MSBL Hall of Fame. “The team was formed around that premise,” Reel said. “And these guys are all his friends who he’s played with throughout the years.”

Bergen gave up his third run in the third, but settled in and pitched a complete game to earn the win. The righty allowed 11 hits, walked one and struck out four. “I used a lot of off speed stuff,” Bergen said. “Knuckle balls and curve balls. I was a little nervous in that first inning but the team backed me up after that and we did it. Marco kept encouraging me.”

“He can make you look really, really bad at times (at the plate),” Sadovich said. “But it took a lot of guys to help us get this far.”

Las Vegas 55’s  0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 5 —6

Team Albany     2 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 —3

Double: R. Craft (Albany)

SAC Bunt: R. Kendrick (LV)

HBP: (LV) G. Ross, M. Magrisi; (Albany) R. Massaroni

DP: Las Vegas, Team Albany

Key Stats: (LV) M. Gutierrez 3-4, RBI; B. Lloyd 1-3, M. Migrisi1-3, RBI; 1-3, RBI (Albany) M. Gerard 4-4, RBI; D. Mitchell 1-4, 2 RBI; D. Obrey 2-4; T. Maney 2-2

WP: Larry Bergren

LP: Mike Gerard