2017 50+ Cactus Consolation

Red Deer Legends 9, Houston Skeeters 1

‘Laughlin Goes the Distance on the Bump’

By Jake Rill, special to MSBL National

October 20, 2017, Riverview Park, Mesa, Ariz. — Red Deer Legends pitcher Brian Laughlin said his team’s offense struggled early this week in the 50+ Cactus Division of the MSBL World Series. That certainly wasn’t the case late in the week, including in Friday’s consolation final against the Houston Skeeters.

The Legends used a pair of four-run rallies and a strong performance by Laughlin to notch a 9-1 win over the Skeeters. Laughlin earned a complete-game victory, allowing just one unearned run on six hits and striking out six.

“We’ve come a long way this week to get here,” Laughlin said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to hit my spots with pitches.”

As for the offense, it was much improved after Red Deer’s rough start to the week. The Legends opened the World Series with five consecutive losses – three of which they scored three or fewer runs.

However, Red Deer ended the week strong, scoring 12 runs in a win over the Arizona Monsoon on Wednesday night, then a dozen more runs in a victory over the Aussie Aces on Thursday.

On Friday, the Legends and Skeeters were scoreless after three innings. But Red Deer took a 4-0 lead in the fourth, a rally that was capped by a two-run single from Laughlin.

Then, the Legends broke the game open with four more runs in the fifth, a rally that included an RBI triple by Keith Szautner.

“That’s the difference, I think,” Red Deer manager Bye Braun said of the team’s offense. “After a long week like this, it gets a little tough on the bodies, but we put a few hits together, scored a few runs in bunches.”

Steve Harding had three hits, three stolen bases and a pair of runs scored for Red Deer, while Szautner had a pair of RBIs.

The Skeeters had several chances to score, but their best opportunity came in the bottom of the second. After recording the first two outs, Laughlin loaded the bases with a walk and a pair of singles. However, he struck out Buddy Grawls looking to escape the jam.

Houston had runners in scoring position against Laughlin again in the fifth and seventh, but couldn’t capitalize either time.

The Skeeters scored their lone run in the fourth when Ken Fox scored from second on a groundout.

Braun said Laughlin hadn’t pitched in a while, but the right-hander’s layoff certainly didn’t show in the strong outing. And his manager had a succinct answer for Laughlin’s success.

“Throwing strikes, working well with the catcher, getting ahead in the count – simple baseball,” Braun said.