2018 55+ Cactus
Sacramento Blue Jays 16, South Bay Zephyrs 13
‘Hits, Errors and 39 Runs Define Title’
By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL
October 25, 2018, Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, AZ– Like a low-budget horror movie, the 55 + Cactus Championship game wasn’t an artistic masterpiece, but it was full of thrills. The back-and-forth chiller finished with Sacramento pulling out a 16-13 win over South Bay at Mesa’s Hohokam Stadium. In all, the game featured 29 runs, 37 hits and yes, 10 errors.
The Zephyrs scored twice in the first inning, but the fun really started in the third. In the top half of the inning, 12 Blue Jays came to bat and collect six hits to go along with three Zephyrs errors and plate eight runs. Not to be outdone, South Bay answered with nine runs on eight hits and two Sacramento errors to reclaim the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
In the fourth, after two were out, Steve Welch lined a two-run double to left and then came home when Gary Stonebrook shot a two-bagger of his own to right. The three-run inning tied the score at 11 runs apiece. The teams matched one other in the fifth by each scoring two and leaving the score knotted at 13-all.
Something had to give. Ironically it was small-ball that gave Sacramento the winning run. Following a single and a walk to start the inning, Scott Brown came to the plate looking to move the runners up with a sacrifice. Instead, his perfect bunt ended with a base hit that loaded the bases with no outs. Bruce Anderson lifted a sacrifice fly to right field and the Blue Jays took the lead. They added two unearned runs in the ninth after a two-out error set the stage for a two-run double by Bobby Brown. Steve Pepi pitched the last four innings to earn the win.
Blue Jays manager Billy Bowerman knew that this one could be a high scoring game. “Those Zephyrs can put up some runs. You have to give them credit, after we put up eight runs, they came right back with nine,” said Bowerman. “We knew it would be a tough game but we never gave up.” Winning pitcher Steve Pepi as selected tournament MVP for the Jays. “Steve pitched a one-hitter out in Goodyear and then came back and threw eight innings in another start before today,” explained Bowerman. “He is the best teammate you could ever ask for.”
Zephyrs bench coach Frank Philips expected a hard fought game from the beginning. “These two teams go way back,” he explained. “We have gone through a lot back-and-forth with these guys (Blue Jays) over the years.” The Jays won their matchup in pool play 5-4. “We know all the guys over there, and they know all of our guys,” continued Philips. “Whether it is a championship game or pool play game, we are here because we love the game. Not only that, we all love each other win or lose…and that’s the way it is.”
Pitching Line: Sacramento: Poling, Burkitt (3), Pepi(6). South Bay: Collie, Hunter (3), Brito (6).
WP: Pepi (SAC)
LP: Brito (SB)
2B: Adams (SAC); Welch (SAC); Stonebrook 2 (SAC); Brown (SAC)
Leading Hitters: (SAC) Bobby Brown 4×6, 5 RBI; Scott Stevens 3×6, 2 R, RBI; Phil Adams 2×5, 3 RBI; Steve Welch 2×4, 2 R, 2 RBI; Gary Stonebrook 2×5, 3 RBI. (SB): Robert Butland 2×5, 2 R; Rob Medal 3×4, 3 RBI; Troy Wells 2×5, R, RBI.
SF: Anderson (SAC); Foote (SB)
SB: Hunter (SB); Guitierrez (SB)
Team LOB: Sacramento 10, South Bay 12
Time of Game: 3:04