Tucson MSBL, 45+ Cactus Division

Tucson Yankees 4, Padres 1

Top Row L-R: Abelardo (Lalo) Cota, Steve Anderson, Jim Baugher, Charles Arnold (Manager), Bryan Loving, Carlos Armendariz, Sean Flynn, Jorge Valencia. Bottom Row L-R: Ramon Morales, Oscar Alcantar, Eric Garigan, Pepe Valencia, Dean Wienhoff, Miguel Torres. Missing: Carlo Colombino, Edgar Soto, Ivan Ramirez, Manny Carreon, Dave Luera

‘Baugher Notches 28 Consecutive Seasons in Tucson MSBL Without Missing a Game’

Submitted by Jim Baugher, 2007 MSBL National Hall of Fame Member

The Yankees debated after the 2018 season if they should move the team to the Cactus Division.  We had a good team with most of our players qualified for both age brackets.  Our Manager, Charles (Guitar Wizard) Arnold, made the easy decision to move up.  We lost a good pitcher in Butch Washington and awesome centerfielder who just goes by T.  Our whole infield was still intact with sure hands Anderson at shortstop, Dean at first base, Carlo at second base, Loving can play all four infield positions and the outfield.  Lalo, Pepe and Jim as backup first basemen when Dean plays second.  Miguel catches and plays third and first base.  Ivan catches and plays first and third base.  We had Sean Flynn, our speedy centerfielder to build an outfield with.  Pitching, even though we lost Butch, we still had Pepe, Jorge, Bryan, Carlo and Lalo.  I believe Lalo lead the league in outfield putouts to first base this year with three.  There is one player on the Yankees named Bryan Loving that I coached in high school.  Who would have thought we’d be teammates in the 45 and over league almost 30 years later.  I’ve competed or played with other teammates for over 25 Years.  I feel very fortunate to have played in the Tucson MSBL since 1992.  When I arrived on the Yankees Manny Carreon was the Manager and then Charles Arnold took over when Manny got injured and decided to take a couple of years off.  Manny won a Champion in the 35 and over division during his reign.  Now it was Charles’ turn to lead the Yankees.  Moving them to a new division with high expectations.

Coach Arnold went to recruiting, picking up All Star outfielder Eric Garigan.  Eric and I were Giant teammates for many years with the Giants in the Sunday Morning League winning multiple Championships, all with Eric as Manager.  Eric ended up leading the league in Hits, Doubles and RBI.  Finished second in Runs.  3rd in Triples, Slugging and OPS.  Another key pickup was Ramon Morales, a third catcher.  Ivan was plagued by injuries all season and finally had surgery so he could come back stronger than ever next season.  Ramon caught almost all of our games and was a magnet to the ball both behind and at the plate.  Ramon lead the league in Hit by Pitches with 8.  But the one acquisition that put the final piece together was Carlos Armendariz.  Finally, I don’t have to face him.  But it was fun.  It always is when your facing one of the best pitchers in the MSBL.  Just check the stats.  Lead the league in Wins, Saves, ERA, Strikeouts and Innings Pitched.  We had a great MVP battle with the new Yankees between Eric and Carlos.  Late acquisitions of Oscar and Edgar helped tremendously down the stretch.  Getting Oscar filled our left side of the infield and of course his bat and hustle gave us new energy to finish strong.  Edgar’s first game he pitched a complete nine inning game, striking out nine with six out of the nine innings were shutout innings.  Now for Edgar’s hitting that game.  A Homerun, two singles, walk and a sacrifice fly.  Seven runs batted in.  I think he picked up all the bases and carried out the equipment after the game just to show off he still has some left in the tank.  Pretty impressive debut. 

We realized very soon that we couldn’t take these teams lightly.  We played the Padres our first game.  The Padres pitcher only gave up one earned run through 6 innings and had a 4-2 lead.  But the Yankees bats woke up and rallied in the 7th for five runs.  Dean doubled in two runs to tie the game.  Ramon singled in two more runs to give us the lead for good.  Then the Padres beat us 8-7 scoring two runs in the top of the 9th inning.  The Padres scored five runs in the 1st and one run in the 2nd inning to lead 6-0.  In the bottom of 2nd inning Ramon leadoff with a double.  Pepe reached on an error scoring run. Flynn single Pepe to third and then stole second base.  Jim followed a double scoring two runs and cut the lead to 6-3.  Pepe after getting off a rough start shutout the Padres for the next three innings to give the Yankees a chance to fight back.  Eric singles and scored an unearned run in the 3rd inning.  Steve walked to leadoff the 5th and came around to score with no one getting a hit.  Padres 5, Yankees 4.  In the 6th inning Roman leadoff with a walk.  Pepe single Roman to third base.  With one out, Jim singled in a run to tie the game. Pepe later scored the go ahead run on a wild pitch.  Carlos who came into relief of Pepe in the 7th inning retired the side in order in the 7th and 8th inning.  The Padres scored two unearned runs in the 9th inning to take the lead.  The Yankees went down in order the bottom of the 9th inning.  The final time we played Padres in the regular season the Yankees won by four runs 11-7.   Scoring six runs in the 8th.  Jim singled in a run after Sean Flynn doubled to lead off the inning to cut the lead to one.  Jorge singled and Steve tied the game with a single.  Oscar drove in two runs to give Yankees the lead with a single.  Carlos roped a doubled to drive in two more runs to end the scoring.  The Yankees got off to fast start when Steve and Eric lead off with back to back doubles.  Carlo singled in a run.  Oscar got on with fielder’s choice then stole second base.  Carlos walked and Dean singled in Oscar.  Bryan drove in the fourth and final run of the inning on a fielder’s choice.  The Yankees only scored one run between the 2nd and 7th inning.  The Padres had chipped away and took the lead in bottom of the 6th inning 6-5.   The Padres added a run to increase their lead to 7-5 in the top of the 8th inning.  Carlos threw a complete game and retired the side in order in the 9th inning to preserve the win.  We met one more time, it was the Championship game.  There was a scoring error on the winning pitcher in the first game.  Pepe Valencia should have gotten the win and Carlos Armendariz should have gotten a save.

The Ray’s were just as tough as the Padres.  We took two out of three games in the regular season, with the deciding game being won 7-6 by the Yankees in extra innings.  The first game was Pepe’s best pitching performance of year.   Nine innings pitched, struckout 12 and zero earned runs.   Their big lefty Ross was a tough pitcher and he pitched every game against us, including the playoff game.  Ross beat us 5-1 in our second game.  The last time we met the Rays in the regular season was a huge game for one Yankee, me, Jim Baugher.  The week before I had a stroke on Monday afternoon and was at the ER at TMC.  I was wheeled in from my car for tests.  I got lucky, I was praying for a rainout so I wouldn’t miss a game and it did rain.  My streak continues, no games missed.  On Tuesday I was using a walker and Wednesday using a cane.  Doctor said I was good enough to go to work the following Monday.  I felt if I could work then I can play baseball.  I was walking normal by Monday.  Ran a couple sprints before the game just to make sure I wouldn’t fall on my face if I had to run hard.  Wouldn’t you know it, the first ball I hit was to shortstop.  Full sprint, at least for me, to first and was gunned out by a step.  Hey, I didn’t fall on my face.  Charles told me later that I made him extremely nervous trying to play so soon.  I guess it would be a little stressful hoping one of your players doesn’t drop dead on the field.  I had a follow up with a Doctor on Friday.  The Doctor looked really surprised when I told him I played.  Then he said, if you feel you’re up to it, play, as he chuckled.  I also had a heart monitor checking me out taped to my upper chest for a month.  I mostly feared that a pitcher would throw a high and tight one and it would nail the monitor.  The game was also extremely exciting.  Jorge pitched 7 strong innings in relief.  Jorge gave up zero earned runs and retired the side in order in the bottom of the 9th and 10th.  The Yankees scored three unearned runs with two outs in the top the 9th to tie the game.  Steve Anderson singled with with one out.  Carlo Columbino reached on a high chopper that the pitcher dropped. Oscar stole the show.  Singling in a run cutting the lead to one.  Then stole second and third.  The steal of third the pitcher threw the ball to the backstop.  Oscar alertly saw he had a good chance to score and proceeded to sprint home and slid safely on the plate, were tied.  The top of the 10th inning the Yankees scored the go ahead run.  Sean hit a sacrifice fly scoring Bryan, who singled to lead off the inning and went to third when Ramon single.  Yankees won one the most exciting game of the year for us 7-6.  I lived.   Charles congratulations, you didn’t have to play taps after the game with your guitar.

Another exciting game was our first game against the Monsoon winning 12-10.  The Monsoon jumped on top with two runs in the top of the first.  The Yankees first three batters reached base.  Steve and Eric singled, then Carlo doubled driving in both runners.  Carlo later scored on an error.  The Yankees added a run in the second inning.  Flynn reached first and immediately stole second, then Jim singled him home.  Monsoon tied it in the top of the third.  In the bottom of the inning with one out, Dean and Bryan singled.  Ramon singled in Dean and Bryan went to third.  Ramon then stole second.  Sean hit a sacrifice fly to score Bryan.  Jim singled in Ramon.  Monsoon scored a run in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to 7-5.  In the bottom of the fourth with one out Steve singled, Eric doubled and Carlo drove in both runs.  When the Yankees hit in the bottom of the sixth it would be the last time they score.  Lalo and Steve both singled.  Eric tripled in both runners.  Carlo followed with an RBI single to give the Yankees and 12-6 lead.  Monsoon battled back with two runs in the seventh and ninth, having the tying run at the plate when the game ended.

The Yankees had a tough game against the 45’s right after the July 4th Holiday.  Steve and Eric lead off the game with back to back singles.  Carlos doubled in a run and Eric scored when Jim reached on a two out single. The Yankees increased their lead in the top of the 3rd inning when Eric and Oscar hit back to back doubles.  Carlos singled in another run.  With two out Sean singled the final run to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead.  With score 5-2 going into the top of 5th Ramon got hit by a pitch and went to second on an error.  Sean with two out again singled another run.  The 45’s scored single runs in the 6th, 7th and 8th inning to cut the Yankees lead to 6-5.  Carlos scored the a single run in the 9th inning to make the final score 7-5.  Carlos pitched a complete game, three earned runs, striking out eight.  In a game in May Carlos threw one of his best games against the 45’s.  A complete game four hitter.  Giving up zero earned runs while striking out seven.  Carlos received plenty of run support as the Yankees scored nine runs in the first and three more in the second inning.

The Orioles held us down a couple of games until the late innings.  In our first meeting with the Orioles they scored seven runs in the bottom of the 1st inning after we took the lead 1-0.  We jumped on top to start the game after Steve lead off with a bullet to the wall tripling.  Eric singled him home.  In the top of the 2nd inning Ramon singled to lead off the inning.  Jim and Miguel singled with one out to load the bases.  Steve reached on an error to score a run.  Eric lined a shot in the gap to double which scored all three baserunners.  Carlo singled to get Eric to third base.  Carlos came up and unleashed a deep drive to the wall doubling in a pair of runs.  Game tied at 7.   The Orioles got two runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning to take the lead 9-7.  Yankees got one in the top of the 4th inning when Garigan doubled and Carlos drove him in with two outs.  In the top of the 5th inning the Yankees started putting the game away scoring five runs.  Sean singled and stole second base.  Jim singled to tie the game at 9.  Miguel got drilled by the pitcher.  Didn’t even rub it on the way to first base.  Steve singled in the go ahead run and give us the lead to the end.  Carlo singled in Miguel.  Carlos and Bryan both singled in runs to finish off the scoring for the inning.  We scored six more runs in the 6th inning.  Then 3 and 4 more runs in the 7th and 8th inning respectively.  Seven out of the ten in the starting lineup got at least three hits.  Carlos and Bryan had four hits and Eric had five hits.  Our largest amount of hits in any one game during the season.  Carlos came in relief to pitch in the top of the 4th inning with a 9-7 deficit.  Carlos completed the game giving up no runs on two hits.

Second game against the Phillies Dean had his game of the year.  Got on base all seven at bats, scored six runs and drove in seven.  Dean was responsible for 13 of our 32 runs we scored.  Steve scored seven runs.  Jim got burned in 7th inning.  Getting thrown out at first base from centerfield.  I should have followed Oscar’s example on hustling.  Too bad he wasn’t on our team yet.  I cheated Miguel out of an at bat.  Carlo pitched the first five innings.  Giving up only one run and recorded his only win as a pitcher.  Carlo’s hitting was zoned in also.  He went 4-4, two walks, sacrifice fly, scored five runs and drove in four runs. 

The Yankees received a bye the first round for winning the Regular season.  Their first opponent was the Monsoon.  We swept them in the regular season.  But they had the ability to beat us if we take them for granted.   The scoresheet for this game is missing so I have to go by memory.  Short term memory at my age isn’t the best you know.   I will just go the middle of the game when the game was on the line.  Pepe pitched five strong innings only giving up one run.  Jorge followed Pepe on the mound and in his second inning got into a little trouble contributed by errors.  The bases were loaded, two outs and run in.  “Mr. Clutch” Carlos came in and struckout the next the hitter to end the threat.  Carlos didn’t give up any hits in 2 1/3 innings.  Oscar came through with single, double and three runs batted in.  Edgar drove in a pair of runs and Carlo drove in one.  Steve and Eric each scored two runs.  Monsoon never threatened to score again and the Yankees won 6-2.

In the Semi-Finals we faced the Rays.  Pepe started this game.  In the bottom of the 3rd innings with two outs Ramon walked, Flynn ran for the Ramon the catcher.  Flynn stole second and scored on Edgar single.  The Rays bounced right back and tied the game with back to back doubles.  In the bottom of the 4th the Yankees continued to put pressure on the Rays.  Bryan leadoff with a single.  Eric walked and both runners advanced one base on a pass ball.  With one out Oscar hit a sacrifice fly to give the Yankeed the lead.  Carlos then singled in Eric.  Oscar ran for Carlos and stole second base.  Dean hit a double to score a run to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.  In the bottom of the 5th inning the Yankees padded the lead.  Pepe leadoff getting on with an error.  Jim singled to put runners on first and third.  Ramon singled in two runs.  After Edgar walked, Torres drove in the final run on a fielder’s choice.  In the bottom of 6th inning Oscar tripled with one out.  Dean didn’t let the triple go to waste and singled him home with two outs.  Pepe was cruising through the game, but the 7th inning got a little tense.  The Rays had a run in and the bases still loaded.  Would Charles leave Pepe in?  He did.  Pepe struckout the next two hitters to end the inning.  Jorge finished off the game retiring the side in order.  Yankees win 8-2.

The Yankees have reached the Championship game.  It would only be fitting to face our toughest competition all season, the Padres.  Carlos pitched an outstanding game.  The Padres were only able to score one run in eight innings.   Carlos got the 18 of 24 outs recorded on groundballs. inducing four double plays.  The Yankees started the scoring in the bottom of the 3rd inning.  With one out Pepe walked followed by a Ramon single.  Cota hit into a fielder’s choice.  Steve, Eric and Oscar each came through with two out rbi singles to give the Yankees 3-0 lead.  The Padres cut the lead by scoring a run in the top of the 6th inning.  The Yankees bounced right back in the bottom of the inning when Oscar leadoff with a single.  Stole second base.  Came home eventually on two wild pitches.  With the score 4-1 in the Yankees favor, Pepe came in to close the 9th inning.  Like all the other games against the Padres it wasn’t easy to finish them off.  A leadoff single was followed by an error to put runners on first and second base.  Wouldn’t you know, we got 4-6-3 double play.  The final out was a goundball to third to first base.  Good thing our infield had a great day as 21 of our 27 outs on defense were groundballs.  The Yankees win, the Yankees win 4-1.  The Yankees are Champs

The Yankees had players who really stepped up this season.  It was a season that was a as long as a Major League season.  Not as many games by far, but we played from April to the beginning of October.  The pitching was awesome with Carlos leading the way.  Pepe, Jorge, Edgar, Carlo and Lalo did excellent when called upon.  The Yankees were tough from top to bottom in their lineup with everyone contributing key hits through out the season.  Only Steve, Eric and Jim made it to every game in the regular season.  It goes to prove you are only as strong as your weakest link.  The Yankees didn’t have one.  Each player was asked to play positions they are not comfortable with.  Each game had its own challenge and strategy to get the best out of our players and Coach Charles did a great job. 

Overall the season was a blast.  Playing against players we’ve played with or against for many years.  Coach Charles did a fantastic job getting all the players a lot of playing time.  Charles put together a team with great chemistry.  Baseball players who checked their ego at the gate and pulled for one another to succeed while demonstrating sportsmanship on the field and in the dugout.  It’s not easy managing a team.  Recruiting and collecting fees.  League meetings, equipment manager, phoning players at the last minute, wondering if we will have enough players for the game.  Making sure players get enough games to qualify for the playoffs.  First one at the field and the last one to leave.  Great job Coach Charles Arnold, you finished off your goal of winning a championship.  The Yankees are Cactus Division Champions of 2019.

The season started off with sadness in the sudden death of Kirk Jacobs.  Kirk did a great job as President and I’m sure he would have been proud of the way the rest of the board members finished what Kirk had started.   Then Mike Torres died of cancer within a week of finding out he had it.  Mike was a competitor and loved to play the game of baseball.  The league has had many deaths since it started back in the late 1980’s.  Doc Witte was the first I remember.  His son has been playing for years to carry his dad’s torch.  Longtime coach Mike Hart from the morning league Indians.  Won a couple of championships back in the early 1990’s and always had really tough and scrappy teams.  There are many others who are now playing on grander fields in heaven.  They may be gone from this earth, but we will always remember you.