San Diego Knights 5, Tijuana 2
Submitted by Britton Scheibe, Knights manager
The San Diego Knights returned to the Las Vegas Kick Off Classic after a six-year hiatus. In four previous appearances the Knights captured three championships, in 2011 (35+ National), in 2012 (25+ National), and in 2013 (25+).
With an average age of 37 years old, the Knights may have been better suited for the 25+ division. The only player under age 25 was my 19-year-old son Jacob Scheibe. So, the 18+ division was the choice. With 15 players on the roster, which included only one exclusive pitcher, the Knights needed some good quality starts just to have enough arms to get to the championship game.
Ryan Martin threw a complete game in a 10-2 game one victory while Kevin Loudat threw a complete game in a 14-3 game two victory. A four-player bullpen effort in a 16-12 game three win helped preserved some arms. A 3-0 record yielded the #1 seed. 51-year-old Rudy Bautista threw a complete game in the 10-7 Semi-Finals victory over the Fresno Grizzlies to get the Knights to the championship game.
John Wagner, the Knights 51-year-old starting catcher took the mound against an undefeated Tijuana team in what was sure to be a tough battle. Tijuana was the home team by virtue of fewer runs allowed in pool play. The Knights came in hot as can be at the plate. As a team they combined for a .405 batting average through the five-game tournament.
The Knights got on the board in the second when Steve Taft led off with a HBP, advanced to second on a single by Shawn Chiaramonte, was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Robby Scott then scored on a big two out single from Ryan Martin. In the third inning Sean Moran led off with a single. A one-out Brett Fick double put two in scoring position and clean-up hitter Mike Lange delivered a two-RBI single to make it 3-0. Tijuana scored one on a throwing error in the third to cut the lead to 3-1.
In the fifth the Knights extended the lead to 4-1 when Danny Harris came home on a wild pitch after leading off with a double. Tijuana answered back with a single run in the fifth to make it 4-2. In the eighth with runners on first and third with one out the Knights got their final run on a bunt single I was able to get down to plate Shawn Chiaramonte. In the eighth Tijuana loaded the bases on a single, an error and a HBP but starter John Wagner got out of the jam to avoid any damage. Wagner threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning to seal the complete game victory, giving up only five hits, one walk and notched five strikeouts in a dominant performance.