Montebello Angels 4, San Antonio Titans 0
By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL
October 28, 2017, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, AZ– Pitching duels were commonplace when players from today’s MSBL 40 + American Division were growing up. There were duels between aces nearly every series. Times have changed as offense is king and high scoring games are the norm. The San Antonio Titans and Montebello Angels turned back the clock for this year’s title game. Cisco Vega of the Angels out dueled Lance Swiler of the Titans 4-0 in a classic match-up.
Both pitchers went the distance in a game that felt like either team could win. Vega allowed only three singles and one walk. None of the four Titans base runners advanced beyond first base. Swiler was nearly as good for San Antonio. The first run of the game crossed the plate in the third inning when Frank Rodriguez scored from third as Ed Nava grounded into a double play. The Titans next run scored in the fifth inning again on a Nava ground out. That one was unearned as Daniel Arrunda led off the inning by reaching on an error.
Montebello finally broke through against Swiler with a pair of runs in the eighth on consecutive two-out singles by Ivan Valencia, Manny Apodaca and Junior Esparza. Swiler scattered ten hits (9 singles), no walks and registered five strikeouts. Vega benefited by some outstanding defense as he rung up only two strikeouts but pitched to just three over the minimum number of batters.
The decision to send Vega to the mound was made at the last minute as he had been battling back spasms prior to the game. “We weren’t sure if he (Vega) could go or not,” said Angels manager Robert Oskin. “He said he was good to go right before the game and it worked out.” Vega was named the tournament MVP for his performance.
In pool play, Montebello and San Antonio each finished with 4-1 records but Montebello gave San Antonio their only loss. The head-to-head record acted as the tiebreaker and gave Montebello the top seed. In the playoffs, Montebello beat the Sacramento 51’s 18-9 and 17-2 while the Titans edged the 51’s 5-4 and clubbed the Arizona Angels 20-1.
“I wish we could have saved some of those runs from yesterday (in the semifinals) for today,” lamented Titans manager Kelly Skeens. This was the Titans first year in the 40 + division, but the team has been playing together for many years in other divisions. In fact, they have previously won four championships in seven trips to a title game.
The Titans are a close-knit group that plays together at home and stays together at the tournament. “Every year we try to get a house. We have 16 on our roster and 10 of us are staying together in a house,” explained Skeens. “We’ve been watching the World Series together and most of us are Astro fans so it is a great experience for us. We are just a group of guys who like to play the game the right way and enjoy coming together for this tournament.”
Like the Titans, the Angels rented a house together where they too watched the Astrosand Dodgers battle it out in the World Series. Of course they were cheering for the other side, as Montebello is located in the East L.A. area and populated by rabid Dodger fans. “This is our weekend team,” explained Oskin. “Several of us went to high school together and grew up right there in the same area. We’re all friends and we come here to relax and play baseball together. This is great competition and we look forward to coming back next year.”
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H ESan Antonio Titans 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1
Montebello Angels 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 x 4 10 0
Pitching Line: (San Antonio Titans) Lance Swiler (Montebello Angels) Cisco Vega.
WP: Vega LP: Swiler
2B: Chavarin (Mon)
Leading Hitters: San Antonio: Jamie Luna 1×3; Donnie Atkins 1×3; Enrique Mata 1×3. Montebello: Junior Esparza 2×4, 2 RBI; Mario Chavarin 2×3; Frank Rodriguez 2×3, R.
SB: Rodriguez (Mon); Arruda (Mon); Apodaca (Mon).
Team LOB: San Antonio 3; Montebello 6.
Time of Game: 1:47.