2021 35+ Mountain
Missouri Stars 10, Puerto Rico Mets 4
‘Third Time’s A Charm’
Submitted by Barry Grant, Stars manager
In two previous matchups, the Missouri Stars came up a bit short against the perennial power Puerto Rico Mets. But 2021 proved to be the Stars’ year. On October 30, 2021, the Missouri Stars won the 35+ Mountain Division World Series in Tempe, Arizona. The Stars beat the Puerto Rico Mets 10-4 in a fantastic hitting, pitching, and fielding display by the visiting Stars.
The Stars entered the Championship game having won their previous six games, after losing their first pool play game to the Mets earlier in the week. It was a good battle. They have a heck of a squad over there. Their guys put a lot of pressure on their opponents with their tremendous running game and solid defense. We had several balls that were driven hard, but they made the routine and the exceptional plays.
In the Championship game, we put the pressure right back on them with big two-out situational hitting, timely baserunning, solid defense, and outstanding pitching. Matt Pay was the winning hurler for the Stars going seven innings, giving up just three hits in a dominant performance. Sean Mitchell came in relief to secure the win. Matt Jayne caught the championship game and threw out their speedy leadoff man, which really set the tone for us defensively. He was awesome for us all week and really called a great game.
I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by a group of phenomenal baseball players and men of character. Our respective leagues back home in St. Louis and Kansas City have definitely helped prepare us to compete in the National Tournaments. We had tremendous contributions from the top to the bottom of the lineup, from our role-players and our pitching to our coaching staff.
My Assistant Coach Scottie Williams, along with coaches Kyle Henage, Gabe Doiron, and Pat Judge has helped me more than they know, and I appreciate each of their contributions helping this come to fruition. At the end of the day, it is all about the camaraderie and the competition on the diamond and being in sync. I am very fortunate to be able to share this title with such a great group of players and coaches.
In the Championship game, John LeClerc (‘Frenchie’ to his teammates), got the stars on the board with a big two-out base hit to right scoring Brett Miniex, who earlier singled and stole second making it 1-0 in the second inning. Center fielder Ryan Weston drove in two runs in the third inning with two outs and later scored on another two-out single by Lee Cruz. But the big blow was the two-out bases-clearing double in the fourth by second baseman Jeff Stephens, which blew the game open. I was so excited when “Smoothy” (Stephens) shot that ball down the line that me and several of our players ‘encouraged’ “Lando” (Jason Landmeier) to score from first base. He was running on a bad leg, so he just needed to hear some ‘friendly’ words of encouragement from the bench! It was a great memory and proved to be the eventual game-winning run. We laughed about that all weekend long.
Additionally, left fielder Pat Tueth singled and drove in runs in both the fourth and sixth innings to secure the win. Stephens was 2-4 with four RBIs, Leclerc was 4-4 with an RBI, two stolen bases, and three runs scored, Ryan Weston was 3-4 in the championship game with two RBI, Lee Cruz was 2-4 with an RBI and Pat Tueth was 2-3 with two RBI.
The World Series MVP was Missouri Stars Outfielder Pat Tueth. Tueth was 14-20 with 11 RBIs. He was absolutely on fire all week long and seemed that most of his hits were in pivotal moments in the game and many with two outs. Pat was a stud for us all week at the plate. His positive attitude was so contagious. He played a fantastic outfield, ran the bases like a man possessed, and did all the little things to help us win.
Others receiving MVP votes were John LeClerc, who batted .667 and was the defensive player of the tournament, and RHP Matt Pay. Frenchie is one of the best shortstops in the country if you ask me. He was huge for us all week and he is a leader on the diamond for us.
Matt Pay was the Ace hurler for the Stars during the tournament going 2-0 with 14 IP, giving up just six hits and three earned runs the entire week. ‘Matty P’ just does his thing. He had an incredible year for us.
“Our pitching all week was dominant, I couldn’t be prouder,” said Gary Brandt, pitching coach for the Stars. Matt Pay led the staff with a 2-0 record, followed by Ryan Dailey 1-0 with three saves, Gabe Doiron (1-0), Eric Walls (1-0), Jason Landmeier (1-0), and Sean Mitchell (1-0 and a save). “These guys are consummate teammates. They know their roles and they work with their catchers to circle back and develop game plans. They run foul poles after each game, they eat right, get plenty of sleep and keep their bodies in tip-top shape to perform,” added Gary.
The Missouri Stars had huge contributions from the following players; Ryan Weston, Lee Cruz, Mike Robertson, Eric Walls, Jason Landmeier, Brett Miniex, Adam Tritz, Mark Ponder, Scott Williams, Tony Cabello, Jason Carrillo, Chris Schrick, Matt Jayne, Terry Isaak, Andy Dickinson, Barry Grant, Gabe Doiron, Sean Mitchell, Jeff Stephens, Ryan Dailey, Kyle Henage, John LeClerc, Matt Pay, Pat Tueth, Matt Tapley, Jason Spore and Pat Judge.
The Stars defense was stellar, to say the least. Assistant Coach Scottie Williams added, “The play of the week was the outfield assist by Barry Grant in game three of pool play, showing off his tremendous arm and throwing a perfect strike to get the speedy runner, especially given the score. It was a big moment for our club, that thankfully carried over for us in the playoffs.”