Dragons 17, Chicago North TSP Fire 3
‘Wilgus Perfect at the Plate, Arbogast Shines on the Bump’
By Jason Johnson, special to MSBL
November 4, 2017, Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, Ariz. – The Dragons scored early and often to extinguish the Chicago Fire 17-3 in the 60 Central Division championship at Hohokam Stadium. Team MVP Mike Wilgus led the way going four for four driving in six runs. Wilgus, batting third for the Dragons, hit a double in each of the first four innings for the Dragons during their offensive outburst.
“After scoring three, then four, then three and seven, it was all over,” said Dragons manager Allan Green. “Mike Wilgus has been hitting the ball really well and played a huge factor in us taking the lead.”
Dragons starting pitcher Rick Arbogast went five innings giving up six hits and allowing just one earned run in the winning effort. Arbogast played an important role on the mound for the Dragons in the tournament as he also won a game during pool play when he pitched seven scoreless innings.
“Arbogast went five and pretty much gave up nothing so that was really sweet,” said Green. “We’re thrilled!”
The Fire started off strong scoring in the top of the first inning when Mike Schmadebeck hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Spiro Roberts and stake Chicago to an early 1-0 lead. The lead didn’t last long, however, as the Dragons countered with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning when their first five hitters reached base safely.
The offensive onslaught continued in the bottom of the second inning as the Dragons scored four more runs capped by a two-run double by Dale Skinner. When the dust settled the rout was on as the Dragons would go on to score a total of 17 runs through four innings.
Despite the tough day for the Chicago Fire their manager Chuck Scheidt mused about the life lessons that playing in the MSBL has taught him. His experience goes back to 20 years ago and he recalled a situation where he was playing in the tournament on a community college baseball field. Class had just gotten out and many of the students were walking by as Scheidt, who was catching, had let a couple of balls get to the backstop. There was a group of students criticizing his play and the umpire stopped the game.
“The umpire called time and walked back and asked these guys, ‘What are you going to be doing when you’re 40 years old, because these guys are 40 years old and still playing,’” recalled Scheidt. “The reason I bring that up is because those students would be about 40 years old now and to this day I wonder, what are those guys doing today because we’re still playing! To me that was a life story. You don’t judge somebody by the way you see them.”
The Fire went 4-2 during pool play. They received a clutch performance from starting pitcher Billy Alvarez, also known as the “Cuban missile,” who tossed a complete game in a must-win situation for Thursday night’s game. Leadoff hitter Bobby Buffa was the team’s spark plug at the top of the order throughout pool play and was a major contributor to the team’s strong offensive output.
“This has been a whole team effort,” said Fire manager Chuck Scheidt. “But our leadoff hitter, Bobby Buffa, really makes us go.”
During pool play the Dragons went 5-1 earning the top overall seed. They were led by excellent work behind the plate from catcher Mark Adams and strong starting pitching from Arbogast who didn’t allow a run during pool play. The lone loss for the Dragons came at the hands of the Arkansas Diamonds, 14-0.
During pool play the Legends defeated the Fire but Chicago’s bats came out ablaze in the semis. The Fire smoked the Red Deer Legends 13-1 in the semifinal game led by a complete game gem from starting pitcher Gary Kreuz.
In the semifinals the Dragons avenged their loss in pool play defeating the Arkansas Diamonds 6-5 in a come from behind victory. The Dragons jumped out to a 4-1 lead but the Diamonds battled back to take a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning. It took three Dragons hits to drive in two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning capped by a two out two run single from Terry Fail to regain the lead and they were able to hang on in the ninth to pave the way to the championship game.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago North TSP Fire 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 8 4
Dragons 3 4 3 7 0 0 X 17 19 3
WP: Arbogast LP: Brukseh
2B: Wilgus 4 (DR), Skinner (DR)
Leading Hitters: Fire –Monsen 2×2, BB, R; Dragons – Hughes 3×3, 3 R; Wilgus 4×4, 4 2B, 6 RBI, 3 R; Adams 3×3, 2 R; Skinner 2×2, 3 RBI
HBP: Kunst (DR)
SB: Yamada 3 (DR), Skinner (DR), Kunst (DR), Adams (DR), Nelson (DR)
SF: Schmadebeck (CF)
Team LOB: Fire 9, Dragons 9
Time of Game: 2:37