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Don't Go Soft, Play Hardball!

2019 65+ Central

Rhode Island Salty Dogs 11, Vintages 10

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

October 25, 2019, Maryvale, AZ – It was all hand’s on deck for the Vintages as pitchers Welsh, Powlowski, Martinez and Weaver all combined on the bump to attempt to slow down the Salty Dog offense and they almost did it, while patiently waiting for their own offense to get hot.  The Vintages scored eight runs in the final four frames to pull within one run but in the end the seven-run Salty Dog outburst in the first two innings was just too much, as the Vintages fell 11-10 in a real nail biter in the ninth with bases loaded and two outs.

“We battled all week and are very fortunate to make it to this game,” said Salty Dog manager Noah Clark.  “The division has gotten so much better and the competition was very good, every single game.”

Salty Dog pitcher Larry Hendrickson was the recipient of the early cushion and cruised through the first three innings without a blemish.  The Dogs started fast with five runs in the first inning, but not as much from pounding the ball but more from a shaky Vintage defense and a couple of walks.  Mac Noblin and Al Pellegrini got a hit apiece but they were the only hits in the inning.  In the second Welsh walked a couple more, as Gary Firestone made him pay by knocking them both in with the inning’s only hit, increasing the lead to 7-0 after two.

The Vintages scored two in the fourth on back to back to back hits by Gan, Daily and Martinez but were again shut down in the fifth, trailing 10-2 at that point with things looking a little bleak.  But in the words of Lee Corso, ‘not so fast my friend!’

The Vintages scored three in the sixth on three singles, a walk and a triple by Race as the Vintages started to figure out Hendrickson.  He posted a one, two, three seventh but then the eighth provided three more hits and two runs so manager Noah Clark brought in Willy Rios to stop the bleeding.  The Salty Dogs were done scoring and were relying on the defense to secure the victory.  The score stood at 11-7 going into the top of the ninth with the Vintages trying to keep up their offensive momentum.

The ninth inning started with a walk to McGivern and a single to Kitzler so coach Clark once again went to the pen to summon playoff pitching hero Denny Brandlin to close things out.  Brandlin did his job by enticing two quick outs but then things got a little tense for the Dogs. Back to back to back hits with two outs by Weaver, Race and Eddy made the score 11-10, which was also followed by a two-out walk to Oher.  With Race on third and the bases loaded, Brandlin got Gan to watch a called strike three and the cumulative sigh of relief was audible throughout Maryvale.

This was a tale of early and late offensive fireworks, by different teams, with a dose of normal baseball sandwiched in between.

“We played these guys during the week and we knew they were tough,” said Clark.  “We never assumed we had the game won.  They didn’t quit and my hat is off to them.  All of the teams in this division were tough and we were very lucky to be in this spot.  Any number of teams are just as good and could be here right now.”

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