Utah Rockies 9, Long Island Panthers 5
‘Wallin’s Four Knocks Pace the Rockies’
By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL
October 28, 2017,Tempe Diablo Stadium- The Utah Rockies broke up a close game with a five-run eighth inning and held on to beat the Long Island Panthers 9-5 in the Mountain 40+ Division Championship game at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Long Island took an early 1-0 lead on Mickey Garcia’s RBI single in the first inning. Utah grabbed the lead when they struck for four runs in the third inning keyed by a two-run double by Skyler Wallin. “We got behind early,” said Utah manager Mike Moore, but we never gave up and this team has great tenacity. We came back and got it done.”
The Panthers drew within two on a double by Garcia and a Rockies error score again in the seventh. Utah put the game away with their big eighth inning. Once again it was a double by Wallin that started the rally. After Christian Mickelson struck out, the Rockies put together four consecutive hits, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly to plate five runs. Wallin went four-for-five in the game to earn MVP honors. “Tyler was great on offense and defense all tournament,” praised Moore.
Both teams came into the title game undefeated after going 6-0 in pool play. Utah won their semifinal game in dramatic fashion by scoring three times in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Stockton Indians 10-9. The Panthers advanced by beating The Bar (Northern California) 13-2. Long Island earned the home field advantage for the championship game by allowing fewer runs than Utah throughout the tournament.
Panthers manager Stuart Juarez cited a strong defense as the reason for his club’s success. “We play hard, hustle and play the game the right way, said Juarez.” He believes that part of the team’s success is that they are close. “We rent a house together and we call it the ‘male bonding week’ for us,” said Juarez. “We’re all friends and are like a family. We are all brothers. To me that’s a little more special than just the games. We want to win, but the time we spend together gives us memories that we will never forget.”
Moore echoed that sentiment; “My greatest memory of the tournament is playing with my friends. There are four of us who grew up playing together since Little League and high school, so that’s pretty special to be teammates again.”
Winning pitcher Jason Jarvis went the distance for Utah giving up just three earned runs. In addition to Wallin’s four hit MVP performance, Dustin Dinkel and Brad Marsh chipped in with two hits each for the Rockies. Mike Garcia had three hits in a losing cause for Long Island.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Utah Rockies 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 5 0 9 15 2
Long Island Panthers 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 5 8 4
Pitching Line: (Utah) Jason Jarvis; (Long Island) Scott Hanish, Anthony Vasquez (8) .
WP: Jarvis LP: Hanish
2B: Herrera (UT); Wallin 2 (UT); Peterson (UT); Garcia (LI).
Leading Hitters: Utah- Skyler Wailin 4×5, 2 R, 2 RBI; Dustan Dinkel 2×4, R; Brad Marsh 2×3, R, 2 RBI. Long Island- Mickey Garcia 3×4, RBI; Mike Herring 3 BB, R; Scott Hanish 3×4, RBI.
SF: Marsh (UT).
SB: Moore (UT); Mickelsen (UT); Herrera (UT); Garcia (LI).
Team LOB: Utah 9, Long Island 9
Time of Game: 2:51