2016 Desert Classic: 50+

Team Victory 10, Waikiki Beach Boys 7

‘Bons Takes Charge at the Plate’

By Alejandro Rodriguez, Special to MSBLNational.com

January 18, 2016, Palm Springs, CA – Despite trailing by five runs in the second inning Team Victory defeated the Team Waikiki Beach Boys10-7 to win the championship of the 50 National Division at the MSBL Desert Classic held in Palm Springs, CA.

The Beach Boys scored five runs in the top of the second to take an early 5-0 lead, however Team Victory slowly chipped away by scoring a run in the bottom of the second when Tim Lockhart led off with a walk, followed by back-to-back singles by Doug Thigpen and Bob Pone scoring Lockhart with the team’s first run of the game. In the bottom of the fourth, Team Victory tied the game with a four-run inning. Frank Bons led off with a double, Lockhart and Dale Ebby followed with back to back singles which produced a run, then two batters later Thigpen broke up a double play which resulted in another run. Pone singled and then following a fielder’s choice by Raphael Fuentes, the score evened up at 5-5.

In the bottom of the fifth Team Victory took the lead 7-5 following a leadoff single by John Knoblah, Manny Salinas then moved him over to second, John Love singled to give Team Victory a 6-5 lead, then Bons singled in Love to make it 7-5. After the Beach Boys scored in the top of the eighth to pull within 7-6, Team Victory added three more runs in the bottom half of the inning to put the game away. The Beach Boys rallied in the top of the ninth scoring a run and loaded the bases with two outs before Team Victory was able to get the final out and hang on for the victory.

Offensively Frank Bons went 3 for 4 with a double and two runs scored to lead Team Victory. Manager Dave Brunette credits Bons for igniting the rally. “Frank was consistent every game with his defense and timely hitting during this tournament. He was there every time for us. He’s really a catalyst for this team. He’s all heart, our pitchers feel comfortable with him playing behind them, and he does everything for this team. We’re fortunate to have him.”

Brunette also gave credit to the Beach Boys for their efforts but also noted the competitive field in the tournament. “The Waikiki team we faced was a very strong team, as were all the teams we faced in this tournament. It was great competition, really strong teams. We really enjoyed it. We always enjoy coming back and playing here.”

For Team Victory it was their seventh time in nine years winning the tournament, one that Brunette says is one of his favorite ones to play in. Brunette also credited his pitcher Raphael Fuentes in the victory. “The key thing in this championship game was Fuentes pitching five scoreless innings which helped us get back in the game, so that alone was huge. He struggled in the second but then made some adjustments and it worked out well.”

For the Beach Boys, the were led offensively by Jorge Flores who went 2 for 4, Jose Ibarra went 3 for 4 with a double and Emilio Benavides went 2 for 3 with a walk.

Despite the loss, Beach Boys manager Gary Firestone was not all that disappointed in his team’s effort. “A couple of mistakes cost us. If we make those routine plays the game might’ve turned out a little different, but all in all we played a good game. Those guys are a good team. You can’t make any mistakes against them.”