Team Victory 6, 3n2 Rangers 5
By Rodney Johnson, special to MSBL
October 24, 2019, Tempe Diablo Stadium – Live by the sword, die by the sword. The Seattle based 3n2 Rangers used speed and aggressive base running to work their way though the playoffs to the championship game. It was that same aggressiveness that was their undoing in the 50+ Central Division finals against Southern California based Team Victory. Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth, the Rangers put the tying runs on base with one out. Jon Thornton singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. Derek McFarland popped out and Mike Lindberg followed with a single to right field moving Thornton to third. Next, a play seen every weekend on Little League fields across America decided the game.
With Frank Clark at the plate, Lindberg took off for second. Every Little Leaguer knows that the catcher will hold the ball to keep the runner at third and allow the tying run to get into scoring position. Not this time. The throw went through to second, Lindberg was out caught stealing and Thornton came in to score. His run made the score 6-5 but now there were two outs and the bases empty. Clark grounded out and the game was over.
It was the plan all along. “We had played these guys earlier in pool play and first and third was a real difficult situation for us,” explained Team Victory Manager Robb Munson. “We talked about it before the inning and this was just the perfect situation to play it a little differently…get the out, give up the run but keep us at a 6-5 advantage.”
Starting pitcher Will Flynt worked a complete game to earn the win and MVP honors. Complete games are nothing new for Team Victory. In the playoffs, Dave Blackburn pitched a pair of them a day earlier to get his club to the championship game. The count for Blackburn was 18 innings, 304 pitches and two wins. “We got here (the championship game) on his arm,” said Munson.
Team Victory went 4-2 in pool play including a loss to the 3n2 Rangers. In the playoffs, they knocked off the Colorado Blues 11-3 before nipping San Jose 5-4 in the semifinals.
The Rangers path to the finals was equally challenging. Like Team Victory, the Rangers went 4-2 in pool play and then played two tough playoff games. The beat St. Louis Bud Light 5-2 and then nipped San Diego North 5-4 in the semis. San Diego North had knocked off the San Antonio Brewers who were the pool play champs with a 5-1 record.
“Everyone knows that Team Victory is the team to beat,” said Rangers Manager Glenn Powers. “Everyone on our team really cares about each other and works hard to pick each other up. That’s how we got here.”
In the title game, Todd Cochrane started out by pitching four no-hit innings as the Rangers built a 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Auggie Alonzo and Rex Cox. In the fifth, Team Victory took the lead with RBIs by Rosario Carrion and Albert Castillo and also added an unearned run on an error. Three more runs in the sixth pushed the lead to 6-2. In the bottom of the inning, the Rangers fought back with a pair of runs on Greg Bradford’s
2-RBI double. That’s the way the game stayed until the ninth when the Rangers just fell short of tying it up.
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Team Victory 0 0 0 0 3 3 0 0 0 6 7 3
3n2 Rangers 1 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 5 12 1
Pitching Line: (Rangers): Cochrane; Barragan (8). (T.V.): Flynt
WP: Flynt (Team Victory)
LP: Cochrane (Rangers)
2B: Bons (TV); Castillo (TV); Bradford (Ran).
Leading Hitters: (T.V.) Bill Locken 1×3; Frank Bons 1×3; Buzzy Sailer 2×4; Manny Serna 2×4, 2 RBI; Albert Castillo 1×4, RBI. (Ran): Auggie Alonzo 2×4, RBI; Greg Bradford 2×3, 2 RBI; Blaze Bresko 2×3; Larry Barlow 1×3; Larry Davis 1×3; Rex Cox 1×4, RBI.
SF: Carrion (T.V.)
SB: Hildebrandt (T.V.); Powers (Ran); Alonson (Ran); Thornton (Ran); Bresko 2 (Ran).
Team LOB: Team Victory 7, Rangers 8
Time of Game: 2:25