2017 Desert Classic: 55+

3n2 Rangers 6, South Bay Zephyrs 2

‘Sturgeon Takes Charge on the Bump’

By Britten Gerrard, special to MSBL National

January 16, 2017-Palm Desert, CA – Behind a solid complete-game performance by their ace Marty Sturgeon, the Seattle-based 3N2 Rangers defeated the South Bay Zephyrs 6-2 to claim the Men’s Senior Baseball League’s Desert Classic 55+ division championship at College of the Desert on Martin Luther King Day.

Sturgeon allowed just six hits and two runs in nine innings while striking out four for the Rangers, who won their third consecutive National Championship (Las Vegas in March 2016 and Phoenix in October 2016).

“I felt good and was well-rested,” Sturgeon said. “The fastball and slider were working well for me and I had great defense behind me. I was able to get the ball in play and the defense made the plays.”

Tied at 2-2, Rodney Vestar singled and scored in the seventh inning to give the Rangers the go-ahead run. In the top of the eighth inning, Shawn Speed hit an RBI-double while John Ortiz followed with an RBI-triple and scored on a wild throw to third, sealing the victory for the Rangers, who finished 5-1 in Desert Classic play.

“Ortiz always gets the big hit whenever he gets the opportunity,” Rangers manager Glenn Powers said. “It’s always at that crucial point when the game is on the line and he hits it in the gap. He’s done that in Arizona, Vegas and now here in Palm Springs.”

Speed, the No. 3 hitter for the Rangers, finished with three hits and two RBIs. Rex Cox was the spark plug for the Seattle-based team, reaching base three times while also contributing two stolen bases, two runs and an RBI.

Cox normally bats at the bottom of the lineup, but Rangers manager Glenn Powers decided to shake things up and put Cox at the leadoff position, and it paid off well.

“My main goal was to go deep in the count and set the tempo and the pace for our team and utilize my speed,” Cox said. “I was able to do a couple of delayed steals which is very effective because it throws off the catcher and a lot of times they’ll throw it into the outfield because their timing is off.”

Cox scored in the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Speed. In the third inning, Cox drove in Al Pelligrini to the give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. The Rangers finished the game with 12 hits.

The Zephyrs scored a run in the fourth inning when Carlos Garcia singled, stole second and crossed the plate on an infield single by Dan Gutierrez.

Down 2-1, the Zephyrs led off the fifth inning with three consecutive singles by Joey Paschal, Phil Galloway and David Thrail to load the bases with no outs. However the Zephyrs couldn’t take advantage as Don Collie grounded into a double play and Ray Quintero flied out to make it a 2-2 game heading into the sixth inning.

After allowing just one run in the fifth inning in a bases loaded-no out jam, Sturgeon continued his stellar outing, giving up just one hit to the Zephyrs in the final four innings.

Phil Galloway took the loss for the Zephyrs as he pitched the final five innings. Collie started the game for South Bay, allowing six hits, two runs and a walk in four innings.

Powers was pleased with his team’s unselfishness and says it’s a key factor as to why they’ve won three consecutive National Championships in the last year.

“Our team is more like a family,” Powers said. “These guys like each other and play for each other and they’re not a bunch of individuals. We’re the complete package. Our cleanup batter is willing to bunt, we have pitching, defense, don’t make many errors and have guys who can hit and hit it in the gaps.”

Despite missing five players due to work and travel issues, Zephyrs manager Antone Henley credited his ball club for stepping up and playing hard to the very end.

“We had to do a lot of fighting just to get to the championship game,” Henley said. “We had to play three games on Sunday and in every game one of us stepped up and our pitching kept us in the championship game. I’m proud of every player.”