2017 45+ Central

Utah Rockies 9, California Hogs 6

‘MVP Valdez Throws Complete Game Championship Victory’

By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL

November 4, 2017, Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, AZ – The Utah Rockies came from behind to capture the 45+ Central title in the 30thAnnual MSBL World Series at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The California Hogs grabbed the lead by scoring twice in the top of the second inning, but the Rockies came back to tie the game with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning. Utah took the lead for good with three runs in the fourth and went on to a 9-6 win.

“We won six games coming into the final innings and every game we had to come from behind to win,” explained Rockies manager Randy Miles. “We won three games in the bottom of the ninth and one game in the eleventh inning,” said Miles. “It has just been a miraculous week for us.”

Utah’s fourth inning rally started when Phil Young was hit by a pitch. He was forced out at second bringing up J.B. Walsh, who also couldn’t get out of the way of a Hank Muro fastball. With two on and two out, Brady Field lined a single to left scoring Young. That brought Bill Uleman in from the bullpen replacing Muro. Matt Burns greeted Uleman with a two-run single to left giving the Rockies a 5-2 cushion.

In the sixth, the Rockies padded their lead with three unearned runs. Cale Shepard led off the inning by reaching on an error by the center fielder. Sheppard stole second and scored on a single by Phil Young. Later in the inning, Brady Fieldhit a sacrifice fly scoring Young and Matt Burns singled to knock in J.B. Walsh giving Utah an 8-2 lead.

The Hogs fought back with three runs of their own in the seventh. Singles by Dale Craig and Bob Lord started the inning. With one out, Bob Linegar’s double brought both runners home. Dan Murray followed up with a single to score Linegar and make the score 8-5. The Rockies added a run in the eighth to pad their lead.

California gave Utah a scare in the ninth when they loaded the bases and plated a run on an RBI single by Keith Crupak. With two outs and the tying runs on base, Hank Muro flied out to center to end the game.

“We just kind of ran out of time,” lamented Hogs manager James Hixon. “It was a good game. I think another inning or two we might have got there. That’s a good team (Rockies) over there and their pitcher pitched a hell of a game.”

Vic Valdez pitched a complete game to earn the win as well as tournament MVP honors for the Rockies. “Vic is my game seven pitcher and we knew we were going to do-or-die with him,” said Miles.

In pool play the Rockies finished 4-2 before winning two thrillers in the playoffs where they beat Chicago North TSP 7-6 and the Rebel Cardinals 6-5. The Hogs went 3-3 in pool play before fighting their way through the playoffs to reach the title game. In the playoffs, California outlasted the Northern VA Twins 14-11 and nipped the Ventura Dodgers 7-6 in 12 innings to set up their finale battle against Utah.

The Rockies are a tight group on and off the field. “We hang together; go to Jazz games, Angel games (Salt Lake PCL) and we even have a garage band together,” explained Utah first baseman Brady Field. “Our band is called Clothing Optional and to date we have had three gigs. We haven’t gotten paid anything for them, but it is just one more reason to be together. That’s what all of this is really about.”

Team                                  1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9             R     H     E

California Hogs                 0     2     0     0     0     0     3     0     1              6  16     4

Utah Rockies                     0     2     0     3     0     3     0     1     x              9  10      0

Pitching Line: (CA) Hank Muro; Bill Uleman (4); Brad Beckenstedt (6). (UT) Vic Valdez.

WP: Valdez LP: Muro.

HR: none

3B: none

2B: Crupak (CA); Linegar (CA); Craig (CA);

Leading Hitters: California: Craig 4×4, 3 R; Lord 2×4, 2 R; Linegar 2×3, R, 2 RBI; Crupak 3×4, 2 RBI, Utah: Walsh 2×3, 3 R, RBI, HBP; Field 2×2, R, 2 RBI; Burns 2×3, 3 RBI; Miles 2×3.

SAC: none

SF: Field (UT).

SB: Shepherd 2 (UT); Walsh 2 (UT),

Team LOB: California 11; Utah 8

Time of Game:  2:47