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2017 70+ American

Red Deer Legends 8, San Diego Mudcats 6

‘Iron Man Claudio Throws Complete Game, Goes 3 for 4’

By Jake Rill, special to MSBL National

October 20, 2017, Riverview Park, Mesa, AZ-Angel Claudio was tired. And rightfully so.

The Red Deer Legends pitcher threw nine innings on Wednesday, five innings on Thursday and was in his ninth inning of Friday’s 70+ American Division MSBL World Series championship game.

Yet, Claudio’s fatigue didn’t stop him from finishing strong – and leading his team to a championship. The right-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, leaving the bases loaded to complete Red Deer’s 8-6 win over the San Diego Mudcats.

“It doesn’t bother me when guys are on base, at all,” Claudio said. “I just throw harder, that’s all, try to get the out.”

That philosophy certainly worked for Claudio late against the Mudcats.

Red Deer entered the ninth with an 8-5 lead. But San Diego loaded the bases with two outs, cutting its deficit to two runs when Bruce Morrison drew a bases-loaded walk.

With the tying run on second base and the go-ahead run on first, Claudio got Bernie DeKala to ground into a fielder’s choice, preserving the win and notching a complete-game victory.

“Angel is just amazing,” Red Deer manager Blair Hanna said. “He just does what he has to do, and he just keeps right on going. He’s just amazing.”

Before Claudio staved off the Mudcats, the Legends used a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead. Red Deer entered the frame trailing 4-3.

The Legends then capitalized on three Mudcats errors and got an RBI single from Claudio – who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored – to take a 7-4 lead into the eighth.

“To win in this thing, you have to have hitting throughout the lineup,” Hanna said. “When one guy doesn’t hit, the bottom has to hit or the top has to hit, and that’s what happened. Everybody chipped in, and that’s how you win.”

Fernando Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with two RBIs for Red Deer. Cliff Skibinski had an RBI double to cap a three-run rally in the first that gave the Legends an early 3-0 lead.

San Diego leadoff hitter Gordy Bennett went 1-for-2 with three walks and four runs scored, while Frank Weishaar went 3-for-5 with an RBI. Weishaar gave the Mudcats a 4-3 lead in the seventh with an RBI single, before the Legends rallied back.

Hanna said he recruited players from across Canada to play for Red Deer. Now, they’ll return with an unforgettable experience.

“I basically know every 70-year-old ballplayer across Canada, and anyone who was able and willing is here,” Hannah said. “A lot of these guys, it’s their first ring. And, wow, they’ll be thinking about it for years.”