Whittlesey Reds 9, Team Mexico 7
‘Short Handed Doesn’t matter to Kraschnewski Family’
By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL National
October 30, 2016, Tempe Diablo Stadium- Injuries are part of the game and for a team already short of pitching, losing one hurler could have signaled the end. Before the game had even started, Reds manager Dan Kraschnewski cited pitching depth as his biggest concern. “We came here really short handed. We had a couple of fathers that backed out at the last minute and they were going to be two of our main pitchers.” When the Reds lost starter Mike Loertscher in the first inning, the prospects looked bleak. Loertscher was hit in the face with a line drive and was taken to the emergency room for stiches. The small-town team showed it had a big heart.
Whittlesey, Wisconsin is a tiny town about six miles north of Medford. With a population of about 4,500, Medford is no metropolis yet all of the Reds players hail from the tiny community. “It makes it special that we are all from the same town,” explained Kraschnewski.”All of these guys have gone to school together and played together.”
As unlikely as it may seem, the Whittlesey Reds were in Tempe as the sun set on October to play Team Mexico, a club from west Texas. The MSBL Father and Son Central Championship featured two teams both playing in their first Father-Son tournament. While the entire Whittlesey roster was made up of players from the Medford area, the Team Mexico squad included three players from across the border as well as players from Odessa, Texas. It’s population, about 150,000, dwarfs that of Medford. The teams seemed worlds apart, yet as they stepped onto the baseball field the differences melted away into friendly competition, a hallmark of the MSBL Father and Son Division.
The Reds scored first as Nick Myer led off the game with a single; stole second; went to third on a sacrifice and then scored on a balk. The lead didn’t last long. In the bottom half of the inning Jose Longoria led off for Mexico with a single and then went to second on a wild pitch and on to third on a groundout. He tied the game when Florentino Reyes lifted a sacrifice fly to center. Jacobo Cantu laced a line drive up the middle glancing off of the glove of Loertscher and striking him in the left cheek. It was quickly determined that he would not be able to continue. Kurt Alexander came on to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings and the Reds scored once in the fourth and four times in the fifth to grab a 6-1 lead.
Mexico scored three times in the sixth on the strength of consecutive doubles by Jose Longora, Andres Ornelas and Florentino Reyes. An inning later they edged within a run when Eric Ornelas’ sacrifice fly drove home Ariel Longoria who had led of the seventh with a base hit. In the eighth, with one out, Longoria singled,Andres Ornelas walked and Tino Reyes knocked in the tying run with his second double of the game. That brought Jeff Kraschnewski the mound replacing Brandon Loertscher. After a walk to Jacobo Cantu, Alberto Viscarra grounded a single to center bringing home the go-ahead run. Kraschnewski retired the next two hitters to leave the bases loaded.
In the ninth, the Reds now trailing 7-6, made their last stand. Brad and Cody Loertscher drew walks. Kurt Alexander laid down a sacrifice bunt advancing both runners. Darren Leonard grounded a single up the middle past a drawn-in infield and two runs scored, giving the Reds the lead. The Reds added an insurance run on an infield single and an error to lead 9-7. Kraschnewski retired Mexico 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the ninth to preserve the comeback win.
Mexico manager Hector Morales was philosophical about the loss. “That was a tough one to lose, especially going undefeated the whole tournament,” lamented Morales. “But they played a little better than we did. We’ll get back, regroup and get ready for next year.”
The emotionally drained Reds manager seemed almost surprised that his team was able to win. “Two-thirds of an inning into the game we loose our pitcher, our number three hitter and our MVP,” Kraschnewski said. “But we never gave up. These guys just sucked it up and played a great game.”
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Whittesey Reds 1 0 0 1 4 0 0 0 3 9 9 2
Team Mexico 1 0 0 0 0 3 1 2 0 7 11 2Pitching Line: Whittesey: M. Loertscher, Kurt Alexander (1), B. Loerscher(5), J. Kraschnewski. Team Mexico: A. Viscarra; A. Ornelas (7), J. Cantau (9)
WP:J. Kraschnewski. LP: J. Cantu
2B:J. Longoria (MX), A. Ornelas (MX); F. Reyes 2 (MX) ; A Esparza (MX).
Leading Hitters: Reds- N. Myer, 2×3, 2R; D. Kraschnewski, 2×3; D. Leonard, 2×3, 2 RBI. Team Mexico- J. Longoria, 3×4, 3R; F. Reyes, 3×3, 3 RBI; A. Ornelas 2×3, 2 R, RBI; J. Cantu 2×3.
SAC:J. Kraschnewski (WR); R. Kraschnewski (WR); K. Alexander (WR).
SF:B. Loertscher (WR); F. Reyes (MX); E. Ornelas (MX).
SB: N. Meyer 2 (WR); B. Myer (WR); E. Ornelas (MX);
Team LOB:Reds 8; Mexico 8
Time of Game: 2:47