Houston Tigers 13, DFW Phillies 2

‘Guest Does it from the Bump and the Plate’

By Jason Johnson, special to MSBL

November 2, 2019, Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, Ariz. – In the second inning the Houston Tigers exploded for six runs and never looked back en route to a 13-2 victory in the 60 Central Division Championship at Hohokam Stadium. Al Wall, Neil Miles and Lonnie Guest led the 22-hit barrage for the Tigers with each driving three hits of their own. Guest also pitched a complete game striking out five and not allowing a run until the seventh inning.

“We have been scoring runs early in the game all tournament long,” said Tigers manager Stan Travathan. “We attribute that to good hitters and a lot of speed at the top of the order. We steal a lot of bases and today was no different.”

In all the Tigers swiped five bases including two by Wall, one by Guest, Geoff Giacco and Miles as well. Of those five stolen bases, three of them eventually came around to score so team speed definitely played a factor for Houston.

The Phillies are no stranger to playing in the championship, but this was the first ever title for the Tigers in the 60 Central Division.

“Dallas has beaten us in the past and they are a very good team and we are very happy to get out of here with a win today,” said Tigers manager Travathan. “We’ve been coming out here a very long time and this is the first time we’ve won it as a group and we’re very happy.”

Phillies manager Frank Phillips was wearing a black patch with the number 33 on it to represent long time teammate Paul Drake. Drake passed away from cancer about a week before making the trip to Arizona for the World Series and it definitely weighed heavily on the hearts of the team.

“It’s tough because it’s hard to keep seeing guys go that way,” said Phillips. “It’s so important we go get checked out and that’s the new mantra for this team. Take a friend, go get checked out.”

Pool Play

During pool play the Phillies scrapped their way to a 4-2 record which was good enough for the second seed in the tournament. They really got rolling when they defeated upper division foe the Salty Dogs whom they are very familiar with. Bob Riley led the team on offense and pitcher Pete Cesario was stellar on the mound for the Phillies throughout pool play.

The Houston Tigers fought to a 4-2 record during pool play to earn the top seed in the division. Led by some unexpected strong pitching performances the Tigers allowed a division low 36 runs throughout the tournament (eight total games) to help them get to the championship game. Al Wall and Roy Alexander led the Tigers at the plate throughout the week with batting averages hovering around .500.

Semifinals

In a rematch of last year’s championship game, the Phillies were able to defeat the Dragons 5-4 in the semifinals. The win didn’t come easy as the Phillies had to narrowly escape two big innings. Cesario came in the game out of the bullpen with the score 5-4 and the bases loaded and no one out. He was able escape the inning unscathed to preserve the lead. In the ninth inning the Dragons had the tying run on second and the go ahead run on first when they drove a ball to the left field gap the Phillies were able to track it down to clinch a championship berth.

When the Tigers faced off with St. Louis Gameface during pool play it was decided by a walkoff so heading into the semifinal both teams knew it would be an evenly matched contest and that’s exactly how it turned out with Tigers coming out on top 5-2. St. Louis’ pitching ran thin and they had to bring a pitcher in from the bullpen that had thrown nine innings earlier in the day and the Tigers were able to capitalize.

Team                         1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9          R   H   E

DFW Phillies           0    0    0    0    0    0    2    0    0          2    7    2

Houston Tigers       0    6    2    0    0    0    2    3    X          13 22 2

Pitching Line:

WP: Guest    LP: Cesario

3B: Milcoun (HT)

Leading Hitters: Phillies – Williams 1×1, BB, R; Fredette 1×1, HBP;  Tigers – Wall 3×4, RBI, R; Milcoun 2×3, 3 R, 2 RBI; Miles 3×5, 2 R.

SB: Neri 2 (DFW), Wall 2 (HT), Guest (HT), Giacco (HT), Miles (HT)

CS: Jacobson (DFW)

HBP: Henley (DFW), Fredette (DFW), Butland (DFW)

Team LOB: Phillies 9, Tigers 10

Time of Game: 2:45