Des Moines Bruins 11, Albuquerque Desert Trout 2
‘Pennings Takes Control on the Bump’
By Jason Johnson, special to MSBL
November 5, 2017, Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, Ariz. – Despite having three MSBL Hall of Famers the Des Moines Bruins were still searching for their first World Series title heading into the 25 Cactus championship game. On this fateful day in November they were able to walk off the field as champions after defeating the Albuquerque Desert Trout 11-2 to cap an undefeated week in Arizona.
“It’s overwhelming to get there so many times and not be the Buffalo Bills anymore and finally get a championship,” said Bruins manager John Linden after the game. “We had a wide range of experience ranging from 24 year old Bud Smith to 62 year old and league charter member, Gary Frank. From Top to bottom, I’m so proud of these guys. It took 18 guys to get here and all 18 participated in the championship game.”
Earlier in the week Brian Schueller joined Bruins manager John Linden in the MSBL Hall of Fame at Sloan Park the day before the playoffs started. He’s been playing in their local league for 20 years and this year marked the 18-time Schueller has made the trek to Arizona for the World Series. He has also served as Commissioner, Vice President and Webmaster for their Mid-Iowa league in Des Moines.
“He joined the founding commissioner of our league, Tim Kirgan, and myself as MSBL Hall of Famers,” said Linden. “Schu played the whole game at a few positions and pitch the ninth inning on that special day.”
During pool play the Desert Trout went 3-2 led by starting pitcher Andrew Pohl. In the third game of the tournament Pohl pitched a complete game while striking out 14 and Lee Griego hit a walkoff single to send Albuquerque to the playoffs.
Des Moines went undefeated during pool play winning all five of their contests. Jeremy Green was the spark plug for the offense scoring 12 runs throughout pool play while Derek Huxford led the team on the hill with 2 wins and Huxford led the team with 17 RBIs and was named the team MVP for the week. Bud Smith also came through with several key extra base hits.
Albuquerque defeated the San Jose Marlins 10-6 in the semis behind the arm of Pohl who threw 139 pitches and seven strikeouts.
In the semifinals the Bruins defeated the Central Coast Outlaws 2-1 behind strong pitching and an errorless defensive effort. Aaron Quinn earned the win going 8.1 innings and Joe Smith slammed the door in the ninth. Joe also had two saves in pool play. In a key play, Jeremy Green bare handed a base hit in the left center gap and threw out the potential tying run at third base. The Bruins took the lead in the sixth inning when a balk drove in the eventual game-winning run. The final out was a diving play by Jo Fred at third base with runners on second and third.
Even though the Bruins got solid contributions from everyone on the roster throughout the tournament starting pitcher Matt Pennings elevated his game to another level in the championship. Through the first eight innings Pennings allowed just two hits and no runs while striking out 11. He allowed two runs in the ninth inning when the game was all but decided.
“He had everything working and did not miss his spots. He had command of his fastball, breaking balls and his changeup was dirty,” said Linden. “He was very sharp and catcher Bud Smith called a great game.”
The Bruins got most of their offensive production from the bottom of the order led by Jake Epsteen and Tanner Linden in the eighth and ninth spots. Tanner had three hits, two RBI, stole home and “hot boxed” Epsteen home which turned into the winning run. Jake had two hits and drove in four runs including a bases loaded triple in the fifth inning. Pennnigs, Epsteen and Linden were named Co-Tournament MVPs.
Even though the Desert Trout couldn’t string together enough hits on offense in the championship game this was a stacked team loaded with All Stars from their local league in Albuquerque. Three of the five top teams in their league were represented on the World Series roster.
“We’ve come together as a team. We’re a bunch of All Stars from the New Mexico MABL and we’ve put aside our competition in New Mexico to come together and represent our state,” said Desert Trout manager Alex Doerry.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Albuquerque Desert Trout 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 5 4
Des Moines Bruins 0 3 0 4 4 0 0 0 X 11 14 0
WP: Pennings LP: Bledsoe
Leading Hitters: Desert Trout – Garcia 2×3, R; Pohl, 1×3, R; Bruins – Magedanz 1×3, 3 R; Baldus 2×3, 3 R, RBI; Epsteen 2×3, 2 R, 4 RBI; Linden 3×3, 1 R, 2 RBI
2B: Baldus (DB)
3B: Epsteen (DB)
SB: Epsteen (DB), Linden (DB), Fred (DB), J. Smith (DB)
SF: Cusack (AD)
Team LOB: Desert Trout 2, Bruins 6
Time of Game: 2:50