Inland Northwest MSBL, 48+ Division
Cheney Tigers 17, Spokane Mariners 8‘Tigers Claim Three Peat in 48+ Division’
By Kerry Pease, Tigers manager
The Cheney Tigers had not lost a league or playoff game in the past two seasons. However, the Spokane Mariners quickly dispatched with that streak early in league play with a stunning come from behind victory. So when the two teams squared off in the championship game for the third year in a row, the Tigers had a rather hefty chip on their shoulder.
Through the first five innings the contest was a nail biting pitchers dual between Mariner ace, Dave Siemsen and Tiger veteran, Kerry Pease, as the Tigers held onto a slim three to one lead after five. By league rule a starting pitchers can only throw five before sharing the wealth. Enter the beginning of fireworks!
In the bottom of the sixth Rich De’Andre followed up singles by Paul Sorensen and Hugh Stine by delivering his second two-RBI hit of the night. Tiger reliever Shawn Mackin held the sailors at bay for the first two innings of relief and at the end of seven the score was 13 -2, Tigers. BUT, the ship the Mariners were on would not go quietly into the night… too much talent and a good dose of pride was the combination for a strong comeback.
Led by the Mariner’s Mike Smith’s three hit night, who was returning to league action after a six year hiatus, young sensation Brett Fink added two hits as the Mariners scored six in the eighth inning to close the gap.
Just when the Shadle Park Stadium crowd thought it might get interesting again, the Tigers responded with four in the bottom half of the eighth to send a final tsunami wave over the bow of the Mariners. In the ninth, southpaw closer Mike Lee, son of Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee, which I think Mike dislikes, repeatedly flipped 12/6 curveballs into the zone to quickly stifle any hope for a different outcome.
The inspirational story behind the game stats is that two legendary Tigers are boldly battling cancer. Powerful slugger Jim Straw was frankly on his death bed about two years ago. He is making a slow painstaking recovery, but we are all so happy to see his menacing look once again at the plate. Although still far from a complete recovery, he is diligently rehabilitating and it was very exciting to see Jim contribute a base knock in the Championship game.
Then there is long time battery mate John Lehman. If you have watched the movie Rudy, then you have a sense of the character of John. We lovingly call him ‘Scrap Iron’ because of the durability this man has as an undersized catcher at 5’7 and a buck 50 (and that is being generous). John is also the winningest player in the history of our league, including all age divisions. He also has accumulated more championships and more victories than any competitor. That is because he is tenacious, and he knows how to call a game and frame pitches with the best of them. John is also fighting a dreadful cancer. Your thoughts and prayers for both these men is appreciated… because we are all brothers in baseball!