2020 45+ Central
Winberg Construction 8, Sacramento Capitals 6
‘WinBerg Construction Baseball Club Wins Behind Nearly Flawless Defense‘
Submitted by John Haney, Winberg Construction manager
November 7, 2020-Salt River Stadium, Scottsdale, AZ-The WinBerg Construction Baseball Club flashed the leather during the 8-game tournament, making both spectacular plays and all of the routine plays. They fielded at a .999 clip committing only three defensive errors while turning 20 double plays in a performance rarely seen in senior baseball.
Stellar infield play was provided by Rod Metzler, Troy Loomis, Rick Acker, Matt Lockwood, Dan Jeffreys, Jeff Krejcik and Brad VanBergen, owner of WinBerg Construction and sponsor of ball club. Sammy Nolan, Jeremy Loretz, Todd Haag, Leonard Charette and Brad Holstad played error free baseball, roaming the outfield and tracking down deep fly balls as well as short pop flies. Rick Blankstrom, along with Charette, held down the catching position.
Acker and Krejcik deserve a ton of credit for their roles behind the scenes helping organize the team and travel. This is never a small task, especially with all of the uncertainty in 2020.
Defense, timely hitting, speed on the bases and determined pitching were the right formula for manager John Haney and the WinBerg Construction BBC.
Nine extra base hits in the playoffs propelled the ball club to two playoff wins, 11-8 over Utah on Friday and 8-6 over Sacramento in the Saturday Championship.
After pitching 7-2/3 innings of relief vs Utah in the semifinal, Lincoln Mikkelsen tossed a complete game in the championship, earning team MVP honors. Semi-Final starter, Ryan Trullinger (1-1/3 innings) quipped that he had “gotten the four most important outs of the game” against the Utah Rockies before being lifted in favor of Mikkelsen.
On Championship Saturday vs the Sacramento Capitals, Rick Acker and Brad VanBergen opened the bottom of the second inning with singles. Acker scored on Troy Loomis’ ground ball to short.
Sacramento plated two runs in the top of the fourth to take the lead. John Macinitich’s base hit scored Dave Scaringi and Scott Spanner.
WinBerg regained the lead, 5-2, with four runs in the bottom of the fourth frame. Doubles from Acker (RBI) and Leonard Charette (2 RBI) and singles by Rod Metzler and Sammy Nolan put WinBerg ahead for good. WinBerg added three more runs after two were out, to go up 8-2, in the sixth. Two-out singles by Loomis, Nolan, Rick Blankstrom (RBI) and a double by Jeremy Loretz (2 RBI) closed out WinBerg scoring. Charette, Loretz, Loomis, Nolan, Acker and Metzler all hit .390 plus and had OBP of .460 or above for the week.
Macinitich singled to open the top of the seventh for Sacramento. Spanner, running for Macinitich, stole second base and Joe Moose singled him home. Spanner, Macinitich and Ted Peart each had RBIs in the top of the eigth scoring Chad Carrington, Aaron Kirkland and Scaringi, to pull Sacramento back into an 8-6 nail biter.
Charette doubled for WinBerg to open the bottom of the eighth, but the next three hitters went down in order. The score stayed close at 8-6.
After Lou Fisher was hit by a pitch, Sacramento brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth with one out. Jorge Valencia, who beat Sacramento in pool play 4-1 facing six over the minimum, was sent to the bullpen to warm up. This was all of the motivation Mikkelsen needed to finish what he started. He retired the next two batters to close out the game.
The WinBerg BBC is made up of a core group of players who have played together at different stops over the past 15 to 30 plus years. Several started their college baseball careers together in the late 1980s at Grand Rapids JC, a mid-western baseball powerhouse, before moving on to four year programs. Others have been playing summer baseball (Grand Rapids, Lansing & Battle Creek) and travelled to the MSBL World Series together since the late 1990s.
Manager/GM John Haney has made a trip each year since MSBL WS #2. He is no stranger to championship baseball having either played on or managed teams in 16 WS championship games (8-8) since 1997. Haney was a 2012 MSBL World Series MVP with a walk off base knock in the 12th.
Team veteran, Andy Postema, who led the team in hitting in 2019, was unable to play in 2020. He did, however, get the team started by throwing a great round of batting practice on Sunday night prior to pool play. Other team fixtures, Jim Hazlett, Kevin Corcoran, Dave Larson and Brian Bracken, were unable to attend due to changes in weeks from prior years.
Playoff Sacramento Capitals vs Chicago North TSP
In Friday divisional playoff action, Sacramento Capitals’ skipper Scott Scardina and bench coach Fred Fenton pushed the right buttons while pitcher Lou Fisher went the distance. The Capitals took care of the undefeated, number one seed and defending champion Chicago North TSP 7-2 to reach championship Saturday.
Playoff Utah Rockies vs WinBerg Construction
Rod Metzler was on base all four plate appearances, scored twice and had three stolen bases. Todd Haag had a pinch-hit triple to plate a needed insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Sammy Nolan accounted for three runs, scoring twice and knocking in one with a double. Leonard Charette was 2 for 4 with a 2B, 2R and 2 RBI.
Utah Rockies 1, 2 and 3 hitters player/manager Mike Moore, Skyler Wallin and Christian Mickelsen were a combined 8 for 13 with 2 BBs a 3B and 5 runs scored.
Central Division Pool Play
In the round robin pool play, starters Jorge Valencia (1-0), Jeff Krejcik (1-0), Ryan Trullinger (0-0) and Rick Blankstrom (1-0) all pitched impressively. Troy Loomis (1-1), Jeremy Loretz (Save), Sammy Nolan, Rick Acker (Save), Rod Metzler, Dan Jeffreys (0-1) and Bradley VanBergen came in from their regular positions to provide relief and ate up innings.
Brad Holstad, third base coach and right fielder, consistently made the right decisions sending runners even scoring bases runners from second base on a sacrifice fly and an infield out.
Championship Game – Top Performances:
Leonard Charette 3 for 4 with two 2B and 2 RBI
Jeremy Loretz 2 for 4 with a 2B and RBI
Troy Loomis 2 for 3 with a 2B, a BB and RBI and 2R
Rick Acker 2 for 3 with a 2B, a BB and RBI and 2R
Sammy Nolan 2 for 3 with a SAC and RBI and R
Rick Blankstrom 1 for 3 RBI
Lincoln Mikkelsen W (2-0) 5K 0BB
John Macinitich 3 for 4 and 3 RBI
Scott Spanner 2 for 4 with a 2B and RBI
Chad Carrington 2 for 3 with a 2B to lead off a 3 run 8th inning
The 2021 tournament will be interesting as more teams likely will come back to Arizona. This year, some teams played with small rosters because of CoVid-19 as they could not get commitments from their usual players. Other teams were able to carry expanded rosters as they acquired talented players who traditionally play with other ball clubs.
The Central Division in 45+ is now the highest division offered. The 2020 teams in the Central certainly would have competed very favorably in the American and National divisions offered in years past.