Red Deer Legends 6, Fresno Grizzlies 3
By Jake Rill, Special to MSBL
October 27, 2017, Maryvale Baseball Park, Phoenix — Alex Courtorielle and his Red Deer Legends teammates worked out of several tough jams on Friday morning. However, they saved their best escape act for the end of the 65+ Central championship game.
With two runners on, no outs and a three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, Courtorielle notched a strikeout and induced a double play to preserve the Legends’ 6-3 win over the Fresno Grizzlies.
Courtorielle allowed a leadoff double to Dave Wolff, followed by a single to Mickey Blevins, which gave the Grizzlies runners on the corners and the tying run at the plate with no outs.
Courtorielle struck out John Baker, but then had to face Bert Avila, who had reached base in each of his first four at-bats.
But like he did most of the morning, Courtorielle relied on his defense to make a remarkable play. Avila hit a liner to Red Deer shortstop Ron Zimmer, and the Legends turned a game-ending double play by tagging up the runner at third.
“We had a couple key double plays, and that’s what really helped me,” Courtorielle said. “A pitcher can stand out there all day long, but if you don’t have the defense, it’s never easy. And they just make my job a little bit easier, so I thank them all for being behind there and making their plays when they should’ve.”
Courtorielle, who earned tournament MVP honors, earned the complete-game victory, allowing three unearned runs and scattering 12 hits. The Red Deer right-hander never pitched a clean inning, but he consistently worked out of tough jams, stranding runners in scoring position in the second, third, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings.
Despite the strong performance they got from Courtorielle, the Legends were tied with the Grizzlies, 3-3, in the seventh inning. Fresno scored two runs in the frame, tying the game on an RBI double by Dave Tarvin.
However, Red Deer immediately responded in the bottom of the seventh. Norm Campion(3-for-4) put the Legends ahead, 4-3, with an RBI single. Then, Rick Wyrozub padded their lead with another RBI single.
“It was really impressive, because we have a whole bunch of guys that are really dog tired,” Red Deer manager Blair Hanna said. “They just kept coming through.”
Wyrozub and Don Bonham each had a pair of RBIs to lead Red Deer’s offense.
It wasn’t the first time Hanna experienced winning a championship with the Legends. In fact, exactly a week prior he celebrated with Red Deer’s 70+ team when it won the championship for its division.
Of the 18 players on the Legends’ team, 16 were from Canada, which made this championship even more special for Hanna and his players.
“These guys never quit,” Hanna said. “Everyone’s hurting, but never quit.”