2016 73+ Division

South Dakota Rushmores 20, San Diego Padres 3

‘MVP Clements Hurls Complete Game for Title’

By Rick Arbogast, special to MSBL National

It’s easy to see why the 73+ division South Dakota Rushmores went undefeated for the series. In a five game stretch they outscored their opponents 106 to 24. Their closest game was a 9 to 2 effort early in the week against the San Diego Padres (3 wins, 2 losses) whom they played again in the championship contest.

Today’s championship game began with the starting pitcher for the Padres (Lefty-Dick Fitzgerald) going down after facing just two batters with an apparent hamstring injury which he initially hurt in an earlier contest. Walking gingerly off the field the fans gave him a great round of applause as players from both teams shook his hand.

The contest got off to a quick start for the Rushmores. In the first inning six of the first eight batters reached base with singles as they put four on the board. In the Padres half of the inning Jim Lortz promptly hit a shot in the gap to left center for a double. Number two hitter, Dave Harvill, singled sending Lortz to third. A shot was then hit down the first base line that plated Lortz and Dave Garcia singled, putting runners on first and third with one out. Next up, Mike McKeener hit a hard ground ball to shortstop Mike Spratt, who tossed to the Phil Trooien at second base who made a great pivot as he threw to first baseman Howard Bich to complete the double play. Spratt to Trooien to Bich was synonymous on this day with Tinker to Evers to Chance.

The second inning proved to be the turning point of the game as the Rushmores put up nine more runs on nine singles and two bases on balls. Innings three and four were scoreless as the Padres turned two beautiful double plays of their own to end each inning. The Rushmores went on to score two runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth. The Padres continued to battle as they plated two in the seventh. Coach Joe Maiden of the Padres said “we respect the game and respect each other. We tried to keep a very positive attitude throughout the whole thing”.

After seven innings the score was Rushmores 20, San Diego Padres 3. Both teams made the decision to conclude the game. Nine of the ten Rushmore batters had multiple hits for the day with Mike Spratt leading the way going five for five with two doubles, three singles, four RBI’s and two runs scored. Phil Clements for the Rushmores was named the MVP as he pitched the entire game and contributed offensively with two singles, three RBI’s and two runs scored. After the game Clements had this to say:”I’m fortunate to play with a great bunch of guys and I had a great defense behind me. We’ve played a long time together and I think the most important thing is the camaraderie that we’ve had. We were just lucky today as we have played the Padres over the years in very close games. This one is special because we don’t know how much longer we can keep this going. I’m very happy that we came out on top.”

Coach John Larson of the Rushmores added, “Great bunch of guys. They are good ballplayers, good people, fun to be with and fun to play together with. We love playing here together. This is a great, great tournament. Our guys just played phenomenally defensively and we hit the ball like crazy. You know, I think our guys are staying in shape better than anyone else at our age. It was a fun week. They are fun to play with and it’s an honor to be their manager.”

As the game was being played on the field the Rushmore fans, made up mainly of wives, daughters and granddaughters, created an amazing atmosphere of love and support for their team. Throughout the game there was constant chatter of approval and encouragement. There was little “Ivy” who cheered on her “Papa” (catcher Al West) from behind the backstop the entire game and then couldn’t wait any longer as she ran into the dugout to give him a big loving hug. Then in the middle of the seventh inning all of the women gathered together and sang a beautiful rendition of “Take me out to the ball game.” They then followed that up with “God Bless America” as they stood up along with every Rushmore player with their hands over their hearts. The South Dakota Rushmore team and their fans representing a state with four great American leaders carved out of stone also represented the great game of baseball to perfection.

R      H     E

San Diego Padres                   1 0 0 0 0 0 2   –    3    10     3

South Dakota Rushmores     4 9 0 0 2 5 0     –  20    24    1

DP –  Padres 2     Rushmores   1

2B –   Padres 1     Rushmores   3

HBP  Padres 1     Rushmores   0

SF    Padres   0    Rushmores  1

WP – Phil Clements

LP – Randy Crowell