LaGrange (IL) MABL

Cicero Pirates 4, Brookfield Sox 2

Back Row L-R: Dan Bocian, Tony Rodriguez, Martin Solorazano, Armand Gordon, Jordan Hanlon, Ray Castro, Jay Cunniff, Adam Sanchez, Juan Valdez, Cory Blake, Chris Krause. Front Row L-R: Hugo Munoz, Joe Carbone, Joe Pantoja, Dan Pedretti, Brian Mladek, Vince Macias, Antonio Godinez, Victor Ballesteros Jr. Sitting: League President – Chuck Mally

‘Valdez Supplies Power in ‘4-Peat’ Victory

Submitted by Ray Castro, Pirates manager

The 2016 LaGrange MABL Season started slow for the 3-time defending champions Cicero Pirates who dropped two of their first three games. After the shaky start, the Pirates used a combination of great pitching and hitting to win 15 of their last 16 games, including 12 straight, to finish the regular season 16-3 and claim the #1 seed for the playoffs.

The Pirates entered the playoffs with a rested pitching staff and looked to dominate their first round matchup versus the #8 seed LaGrange Bulldogs. But the Bulldogs had other thoughts and battled the Pirates for nine intense innings. The Pirates jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning on a 2-run single by Antonio Godinez and a sacrifice fly by Dan Pedretti. The Bulldogs starting pitcher buckled down and didn’t allow another run, pitching nine strong innings. The Bulldogs scored one in the top of the seventh bringing the score to 3-1. The Bulldogs threatened in the top of the eighth, but Pirates closer Armand Gordon enticed the Bulldogs into two infield pop-outs with the bases loaded to end the threat. Gordon struck out the first two batters in the ninth to seal the Pirates victory. Starting pitcher Chris Krause and relief pitcher Mike Cruz kept the Bulldogs offense under control for the first seven innings.

The Pirates’ second round matchup versus the Westmont Storm was a combination of an offensive outburst and a dominating pitching performance that led to a resounding 15-0 win in seven innings. Wyatt Spector dominated on the mound striking out 13 in seven innings, while the Pirates offense was led by Godinez, Pedretti, Joe Pantoja, Dan Bocian, Joe Carbone and manager Ray Castro who all had multiple hits in the rout.

Game three of the playoffs brought in the rival Brookfield Sox with the winner advancing to the Championship Game. The Pirates jumped out to 5-0 lead after the first inning highlighted by a monstrous home run by Juan Valdez and never looked back. Led by Valdez, Brian Mladek, Vince Macias, Hugo Munoz and Adam Sanchez the Pirates offense smashed its way to a 17-5 win. Anthony Cunniff pitched seven strong innings leading the Pirates to the Championship Game.

The Brookfield Sox battled out of Losers Bracket and earned another shot at the rival Cicero Pirates in the Championship Game. The Pirates jumped out again early scoring two in the bottom of the first on RBI singles from Macias and Valdez. Valdez added to the Pirates 2-run lead with another monstrous homer in the fourth plating Macias and giving the Pirates a comfortable 4-0 lead. The Sox closed the gap scoring two in the sixth but couldn’t muster up any more offense the rest of the game. Jordan Hanlon was dominant on the mound pitching a complete game for the Pirates, giving the Pirates the win and completing their 4-Peat. Congrats to the Cicero Pirates on their 2016 LaGrange MABL Championship!