SoCal Quakes 6, Team Mexico 5
‘Annunziato Single in Eleventh Inning Seals ’Three-Peat”
By Jason Johnson, special to MSBL
October 29, 2017, Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, Ariz. – Playing in their seventh MSBL World Series in the Father/Son division, the experience never gets old for the family bonding time for the SoCal Quakes. It doesn’t hurt that they were vying for a three-peat.
“The whole team has a great relationship because they’ve been together so long,” said Quakes manager John Love. “Every year we rent a big house and we watch the World Series and college football and a lot of it is about the things you do during your down time. It’s almost like being in a locker room 24 hours a day because we are together.”
The team camaraderie on the Quakes is especially unique because team includes sons that played together in high school along with their fathers who played together in high school and their fathers’ coaches. The team’s continuity and mentorship have proven to be successful both on and off the field.
Back home Love coaches high school baseball which makes up the nucleus of his team.
“When I saw the father/son division develop 17 years ago when my son was young I said I couldn’t wait to do that with him,” said Love. “It’s actually turned out better than I had hoped not only with my son, but the other boys that I’ve coached and watched them turn into young men.”
In the bottom of the 11thinning in front of an energetic crowd Frank Annunziato hit a soft liner past the diving shortstop and into center field to drive in Aaron Zubiate giving the SoCal Quakes their third consecutive Father/Son championship.
“That was a tough one to swallow,” said Mexico manager Hector Morales. “Baseball is like life, sometimes it gives to you and sometimes it takes away from you. Today, it just took a little bit away from us.”
The Quakes led most of the game but fell behind 5-4 in the seventh inning to Team Mexico when Florentino Reyes hit a two-run double. With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth inning Team Mexico was one out away from capturing their first championship. Then Madison Hildebrandt hit a leadoff single and advanced to second on a balk which was followed by an RBI single from Ken Henry to tie the game and send it to extras.
This is the second year in a row Team Mexico has lost a ninth inning lead in the championship game. After moving to a higher division this year Team Mexico’s performance validated the promotion and they proved that they belong with the big boys.
“Going 11 innings in the championship game in a higher division and battling the way we did, we’re going home happy,” said Morales. “Hopefully we’ll regroup and be back next year.”
Team Mexico went 2-2 during pool play. Offensively, Mexico was led by cleanup hitter Alberto Viscarra (son) who had a great tournament with his bat.
During pool play the Quakes went 3-1 and were led by newcomers Chuck (father) and Joel (son) Belk.They were unable to attend the championship game but during pool play Chuck Belk pitched seven innings allowing just one run and Joel Belk tossed eight innings while allowing just one run. It was the first time that Chuck Belk had pitched in 35 years.
Team Mexico defeated the Pro Bats Yankees 15-2 in the semifinals led by strong pitching performances from son Alexander Bazua and father Andres Ornelas and everyone in the lineup had a hit.
In the semis the Quakes defeated the Wisconsin Rangers 18-1 and once again were led by Chuck and Joel Belk who combined to pitch the entire game allowing just the one run.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 R H E
Team Mexico 0 0 0 0 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 5 14 1
SoCal Quakes 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 6 16 2
WP: Mike Annunziato LP: Florentino Reyes
2B: Florentino Reyes (TM), Hector A. Morales (TM), Aaron Henry (SQ)
Leading Hitters: Mexico – F. Reyes 3×5, 2 RBI; A. Hinojos 2×4, 2 RBI; J. Haskell 2×4, BB; Quakes – F. Annunziato 2×5, 2R, GW RBI; A. Henry 2×4, RBI; K. Henry 4×5, RBI.
SAC: A. Longoria (TM)
HBP: J. Cantu (TM), R. Manquen (SQ)
SB: J. Longoria 3 (TM), J. Haskell (TM), F. Annunziato 2 (SQ)
Team LOB: Mexico 13, Quakes 14
Time of Game: 3:23