Diamond Dream Mustangs 18, Sonoma County Cardinals 14
‘Mustangs win ‘Back to Back’ World Series Championships’
Submitted by Mike LaComb, Mustang’s manager
The 50+ Diamond Dream Mustangs Cactus team returned to Phoenix in 2021 to compete in the MSBL World Series with only one goal of repeating as champions. The team had downsized its’ roster this year as it moved some of our former teammates onto our first ever 50+ National Division DD Mustang team, which was a finalist in the National Division.
The 50+ Cactus Mustangs went undefeated for the tournament, with a record of 9-0. It was a total team effort to reach our goal, with everyone contributing to the team’s success.
Our round-robin pitching performances were exceptional. Our pitching staff only gave up 22 runs over six games. Arnie Lingwall opened up on the mound for us and threw a complete-game victory. He was followed by Buzzy Jackson, who pitched in back-to-back games on Monday, getting two wins, with Chris Dunn closing out the first game of the day. Luke Town and Darren Hughart each garnered wins in our Tuesday doubleheader, with Hughart throwing a no-hitter, and Tommy Taylor closing the second game. Robert Maher wrapped up the round-robin with a complete-game win on Wednesday.
The Mustang’s offense matched up with the team’s pitching dominance by scoring 96 runs in the six round-robin games. Rick Clough, Ron Barckhoff, and Derick Smalling, Kris Ludwig, Robert Smith, and Dave Kaufmann all had OBPs over .500 for the week, with Dave Haggart, Robert Maher, Chris Dunn, Joe Walsh, Nick Arico, Mark Gleason, Jeff Parks, and Steve Hutchinson all ending the week with OBPs over .400. Mustang’s shortstop Ron Barckhoff, was named our Tournament MVP in his first-ever MSBL World Series.
Mark Gleason pitched a five-hitter to win the quarterfinal playoff game versus the Austin Express, with Tom Taylor picking up the save.
As we entered the semi-final versus one of our perennial rival teams, the Utah Braves, Chris Dunn pitched a hard-fought game to top the Braves 10 to 3, after the Mustangs broke a 3-3 tie going into the seventh inning.
In the championship game in Tempe Diablo Stadium, it was a slugfest with the Sonoma County Cardinals, with 36 hits combined in the game from the two teams. Darren Hughart, Chris Dunn, and Rick Clough combined on the mound to outlast the Cardinals as the Mustangs won 18-14. Kris Ludwig led the Mustang offense with a double, triple, and a single. Steve Hutchinson had two hits including a double. Rick Clough and Dave Haggart each reached base three times. Derick Smalling was named the Mustang Playoff MVP for the second year in a row.