2020 50+ Cactus
Diamond Dream Mustangs 8, Utah Braves 7
‘Smalling Logs Inside the Park Grand Slam’
Submitted by Mike LaComb, Mustangs manager and 2016 MSBL World Series Hall of Fame member
The Diamond Dream 50+ Mustangs battled all week through an extremely competitive field of 15 teams to go 4-1-1 in the round robin to secure the second seed in our division as we entered playoffs. Throughout the week several players logged multiple innings to keep us on track. We got great pitching from Rick Clough, Chris Dunn, Steve Nix, Mark Gleason, Tom Taylor, John Denney, Aarnie Lingwall and Wilson Reyes. Robert Maher, Pepe Tovar, Ron Lochner, Dan Cassidy, Dave Haggart, Steve Hutchinson, Nick Arico, Dave Kaufmann and Carlos Perez all came up big all week on defense and at the plate.
We played through an emotional week as we had dedicated our stadium game to a recently deceased teammate, Danny Craig. For that game, we were given special permission from MSBL for the whole team to wear our fallen teammate’s #44. And after that game we retired Danny’s number. We also had to deal with another teammate, Joe Walsh’s loss of his mother back East, on the day he arrived in Phoenix.
Thankfully, we were able to get through some injuries, and the unfortunate life events and the tough competition so that once we reached the playoffs, we had hit our stride, as we rolled through our quarterfinal and semifinal opponents the Chicago Pinch Hitters and the Austin Angels.
Then came the championship battle with the Utah Braves, whom we had tied during the round robin. Chris Dunn took the mound and pitched a masterful seven and 1/3 innings, as the lead changed hands multiple times during the game.
Steve Nix had three hits for the Mustangs, and Rick Clough, Pepe Tovar, Derick Smalling each had two hits. Entering the seventh inning the Mustangs were down by a run. With two outs, Pepe Tovar and Dave Kaufmann both singled. Then Dan Cassidy walked. That brought our rookie, Derick Smalling to the plate. With two strikes on Derick, he blasted a line drive which landed on the left field chalk line. The Utah left fielder tried to catch it, but missed, and the ball went into the corner, as the bases emptied, with Smalling getting an inside the park ‘grand slam’! The Braves fought back to score two more runs, but Rick Clough entered the game on the mound and dominated to close out the win.