Las Vegas Rattlers 7, Austin Amigos 6
‘Clemens (Dan) Gets Huge Save for Championship Birthday Present’
By Russ Christ, special to MSBL
October 20, 2017, HoHoKam Stadium, Mesa, AZ – With one out in the top of the ninth inning, two runners on base and his team leading 7-6, right-hander Dan Clemens entered the game for the Las Vegas Rattlers. It was his 50th birthday. The Rattlers were undefeated. Manager Manny Ocampo decided to pull his starter, Javier Ricardo. “He had pitched the semifinal also,” Clemens said. “He threw one hell of a game, but I knew he was probably on fumes. I think of myself more as a starter than a reliever, but it was cool to get it done on my birthday.”
Clemens, after watching his teammates from the bench for three hours, also wanted Ricardo to earn the win. A save on his 50th would be icing on the proverbial cake.
But baseball games are rarely easy. The opponent, the Austin Amigos, were rallying at Mesa’s HoHoKam Stadium in the 50 plus Cactus Division championship of the 30th annual MSBL World Series.In the final frame, with his team trailing by four runs, Robert Calvert, the Amigos manager, tripled to deep right center field. Mike Baskerville knocked him in with a single, Erik Cary reached on an error, and Keith Johnson singled to load the bases. After David Thrall popped up to first, Darryl Linsey knocked in two runs with a single to make it a one-run game.
Enter Clemens, who faced the top of the order, Kevin Craig and Garry Phipps. Craig hit a soft fly ball to the shortstop and Phipps hit a sinking liner to left field to end the game.Ocampo stayed positive all week, particularly in this stressful situation.
“I knew Dan was the right guy to bring in,” Ocampo said. “He wanted us to win this for his birthday. I believed in these guys. All I had to do was think positively and I knew they would persevere. I’m so proud. No matter how fatigued, they just battled.”
Ricardo, who gave up 12 hits, struck out six, walked one and hit one, described the week as a total team effort. “Everybody played together,” Ricardo said. “And we had great defense and catching. Everybody worked hard.” Ricardo entered the ninth with a comfortable cushion after Las Vegas (9-0) pushed across three in the eighth.
Earl German, who had doubled and scored in the second and singled and scored in the fourth, singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth for the Rattlers. Eric Ogletree and Sam Pacheco also singled and scored to make the score 7-3. “It (the ball) was as big as a watermelon for me,” German said. “I was seeing it well. You got to hit them hard.”
“The team grew together,” Pacheco said. “No one pressed. It was just an unbelievable week. There’s always nerves when it’s 7-6 and we’re in that situation, but I had faith in the team.”Jeff McMeans was 2-4 with an RBI and two stolen bases for Las Vegas.
The Amigos (7-3) were led by Linsey, who was 3-4 with two RBI, and Baskerville, who was 2-4 with a triple and RBI. Knuckleball specialist Rick Myers took the loss, pitching into the eighth. But in the end it wasn’t enough. “Manny kept pushing the right buttons,” German said.
0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 3 —6
0 1 0 3 0 0 0 3 x —7
Double: D. Linsey (Amigos); E. German, R. Moreda (Rattlers)
Triple: M. Baskerville, R. Calvert (Amigos)
HBP: A. Arenz (Rattlers), A. Lazano (Amigos)
Key Stats: Amigos: Linsey 3×4, 2 RBI; Baskerville 2×4 RBI. J. Fernandez 1×4, 2 RBI; Rattlers: E. German 3×4, S. Pacheco 3×4, 2 RBI, J. McMeans 2×4, RBI
WP: Javier Ricardo
Save: Dan Clemens
LP: Rick Myers