South Jersey MSBL, 52+ Division
Montgomery County Yankees 6, South Jersey/Lenape Phillies 2
Kneeling L-R: Mark Greenspan, Bob Creedon, Bob Morrell, Mark Goodman, Frank O’Brien, Jeff Budin. Standing L-R: Jack Kapenstein, Tony D’Aulerio, Hal Bluestein, Joe Lynn, Dan Maggiani, Tom Gallagher, Jeff Lichter, Jamie Heldring, Tom Koelzer, Steve Farina, Marc Gold, Craig Underwood, Craig Stein.
‘D’Aulerio Powers the Yankees to the 52+ Title’Submitted by Mark Greenspan, Montgomery County Yankees manager
The Montgomery County Yankees claimed the 2016 South Jersey MSBL 52+ Division Championship by sweeping the top-seeded South Jersey/Lenape Phillies (16-3-1) in the finals, 14-9 and 6-2. The Yankees (15-3-1) entered the playoffs as the #2-seed after closing out the regular season with six wins and a tie in their final seven games, edging out the South Jersey/Camden County Phillies (13-3-0) for a first-round playoff bye by three percentage points. The Yankees then advanced to the finals by eliminating the defending-champion Gloucester Township Orioles, 8-4, in the semifinals.
Game one of the finals saw the Yankees jump out to a 6-1 lead in the top of the third inning with Marc Gold and Tony D’Aulerio each smacking 2-run doubles before the Phillies rallied with four runs in the bottom of the third, another run in the fifth and three more in the sixth to take a 9-7 lead. David Viviani’s 2-run single in the third started the Phillies’ rally, while Jack Beck contributed RBI singles in both the third and sixth innings. But the Yankees responded with four runs in the seventh – the key hit being a Tom Koelzer bases-loaded, 2-run double – to retake the lead, then added three more in the ninth. The big hit was a Tom Gallagher bases-loaded 2-run single, which iced the win. Jeff Budin (8-1) picked up the win on the mound while Jamie Heldring pitched a stellar final three innings to earn the save.
Game two of the finals started out similar to the opener with the Phillies scoring in the top of the first on an RBI single by Miguel Cartagena and the Yankees responding with two in the home half of the inning to take a 2-1 lead. But pitching would dominate the next 5 1/2 innings as the Yankees’ Gallagher and the Phillies’ Luis Rodriguez would allow only one run apiece over that span. A Joe Lynn RBI double in the bottom of the fourth pushed the Yankees’ lead to 3-1 before Julio Vigo tripled to lead off the top of the fifth and scored on Mike Chmielewski’s RBI single, closing the gap to a single run again at 3-2. But Gallagher (9-1), the league’s Cy Young award winner, would allow only one more base runner to reach second base the rest of the way in going the distance on the mound. The Yankees added an insurance run in the seventh when Greenspan singled with two outs, stole second and scored on D’Aulerio’s RBI single. The Yankees closed out the scoring with two more in the eighth, the first coming when league MVP Koelzer singled, stole second, moved to third on an infield ground out and scored on a fielder’s choice. The final run came on an RBI single by Budin.
During the playoffs the Yankees’ offense was paced by D’Aulerio, who went 9-for-11 with six RBI and six runs scored, including 6-for-7 in the finals with four RBI and five runs scored. Craig Stein was 5-for-11 in the playoffs with three RBI and three runs scored, while Koelzer was 4-for-9 with five RBI and four runs scored.
The league championship was the Yankees’ first since 2012 when they were part of the Tri-State MSBL, now the John A. DeBenedictis League. This is their 12th league championship in their 26-year history, as they won six Montgomery County MSBL championships (1994-1999) and four Bux-Mont MSBL championships (2005, 2006, 2007 & 2010).