‘Rushmores Make it Three in a Row’
By Rick Arbogast, special to MSBL
October 27, 2017, Riverview Fields, Mesa, AZ- “For the Love of the Game” In talking to many of the players of the 73+ championship game this is the recurring theme. The passion for playing this great game has not diminished in the least. Many of these players are closer to 80 years old than 73 and still have the competitive juices flowing but at the same time you see the comaraderie between not just their own teammates but with the competition. They have been playing with and against each other for many years. As I was speaking with one of the players he said he was very appreciative of all he had at this point in his life and with a glow of a little leaguer he added “and baseball”.
To start the game the fans of the South Dakota Rushmores, led by Arlene Bich, led the crowd in the singing of the National Anthem. As we sang, all standing with our hand over our heart, Coach John Larson of the Rushmores and Coach George Hughes of the Classics together held the Flag of the United States of America with pride.
The Classics were up first and started the game with good old fundamental baseball. Leadoff man Doc Green reached base on an error and was promptly moved into scoring position on a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Rocky Grazian. First baseman Doran Ryan stepped to the plate and knocked in the first run of the game with a shot up the middle for a base hit. After right fielder Dave Sweeten and pitcher Hugh Hayden followed with singles, center fielder Gary Schwarzrock brought Ryan in with a ground ball to shortstop for the second run of the game as the Classics took the early lead.
South Dakota sent five men to the plate in their half of the first but some shaky base running caused them to come up empty on the scoreboard so after one inning of play it was Classics 2, Rushmores 0. The Classics went quietly in the second but that’s not the case for the Rushmores. They sent 15 men to the plate with 11 of those scoring. In the inning there were seven singles, three doubles, a bunt single, one error, a balk and two identical line drive outs caught by third baseman Green.
The Rushmores continued the onslaught as they scored two in the third, nine in the fourth and four more in the fifth. The Classics kept battling, as good ballplayers do, putting up two in the third and three more in the sixth. After 5 ½ innings the Classics decided that was enough and they will battle again another day. The final score read South Dakota 26, Ohio 7.
After the game the Rushmore players voted their coach John Larson as the MVP and here’s what he had to say. “We have such a great team. They’re not only great ballplayers, they are great men of integrity and we just have a great time playing together. This is our third championship win in a row for the 73+ division. We’re pretty proud of the consistency. I had a hard time deciding who was going to be in the batting order, batting only 10 players to start, but we did get everybody in the game eventually.”
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Ohio Classics 2 0 2 0 0 3 – – – 7 13 7
South Dakota Rushmores 0 11 2 9 4 – – – – 26 25 1
WP: Phil Clements LP: George Hughes
3B: Rushmores – Mike Spratt, Classics – Dave Sweeten
2B: Rushmores – Phil Clements, Al West, Phil Trooien, Doug Stormo
Leading Hitters: Classics – Dave Sweeten 3×3, RBI, R; Doran Ryan 2×3, 2R, RBI; Hugh Hayden 2×3, 2RBI’s. Rushmores – Doug Stormo 4×4, 4RBI’s, 3R, BB; Al West 3×4, 4RBI’s, 3R, BB; Nick Pashulka 3×4, 3R, 2RBI’s, BB; Phil Clements 3×4, 2RBI’s, R.
Team LOB: Classics – 7. Rushmores – 10