Puerto Rico Dodgers 15, Utah Red Sox 4
By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL
November 2, 2019, Tempe Diablo Stadium – For the Puerto Rico Dodgers, there was more at stake than a championship ring in the MSBL World Series. Civic pride was on full display as the Dodgers hung the Puerto Rico flag across the front of the dugout and blasted Spanish language music from within. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is officially a territory of the United States yet the players who traveled to Arizona for this tournament were clearly representing their Caribbean Island home. After all was said and done, they returned with the 2019 45 + Cactus Championship.
The title game didn’t start well for the Dodgers as Utah took an early lead with a pair of first inning runs. Puerto Rico tied the contest with single runs in the first and third. Helped by a pair of Red Sox errors in the fourth, The Dodgers scored four unearned runs to take charge. They never looked back.
Armed with a 6-2 lead, the Dodgers added seven runs in the sixth as nine of the first ten batters reached and seven of them scored. The last two runs came across on a single by Jose Pena to cap the inning. Puerto Rico added single insurance runs in the seventh and eighth to seal the victory.
Starting pitcher Juan Ruiz went eight innings, allowed five hits and one earned run as he struck out 13. Ruiz earned the win and MVP honors. “He pitched a great game for us today,” said team spokesman Louie Maldonado. “This team has played in tournaments in Puerto Rico, Florida and in Cooperstown. We always have a lot of fun.” Jesus Lay, Pedro Feliciano and Nelson Adorno each had three hits to lead the Dodgers 17-hit attack.
Puerto Rico tied for the top spot in the 45+ Cactus Division 2 with the San Diego North Padres. Both teams finished with 5-0-1 records. In the playoffs, the Red Sox tied with Puget Sound in Division 1 with 5-1 records. They beat the Nassau Yankees and the Padres to advance to the finals. The Dodgers got past the Willamette Valley Hops and the Puget Sound Twins to earn a trip to the finals.
“We have a real gritty group who just did what we needed to do to get here,” said Red Sox manager Joe Dailey. “We didn’t really have one key standout…it has just been a complete team effort.” The Red Sox are a league team that plays together in Utah and then puts it all together to come to Arizona for the World Series. “We stay together off the field while we are here,” said Dailey. “We try to get as many guys together at the same house to build team camaraderie. The thing we will remember most when we get home is that every player here has dug deep and done all we could do to help each other out.”
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Utah 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 8 5
Puerto Rico 1 0 1 4 0 7 1 1 x 15 17 0
Pitching Line: (Utah): Campbell; Bills (5); Tolbert (7). (Puerto Rico): Ruiz; E. Ayala (9).
WP: Ruiz (PR)
LP: Campbell (UT)
3B: Brown (UT)
2B: Bills (UT); Juarbe (PR); Lay (PR); Perez (PR); Medina (PR).
Leading Hitters: (Utah): Jared Bills 2×4; Leroy Brown 2×4, 3 RBI. (Puerto Rico): Jesus Lay 3×4, RBI; Pedro Feliciano 3×3; Jose Pena 2×2, 2 RBI; Herriberto Juaribe 2×4, RBI; Nelson Adorno 3×3, 2 RBI.
SAC: Roman (PR)
SB: Tolbert (UT); Lay 2 (PR); E. Ayala 2 (PR); Pena (PR); Juarbe (PR);
DP: Utah 1
Team LOB: Utah 5, Puerto Rico 11
Time of Game: 2:53