Tri-Valley Tribute 4, Houston Tigers 3
‘Walk-off ‘Walk’ in Ninth Seals Championship’
“Tribute” is a collective effort in bringing together the members of three previously successful teams representing Tri-Valley that had suffered too many losses of friends/teammates. The multi-champion TV 40s and TV Giants with long-time Cal Bears have come together to play in honor of a large number of players that have passed away and those too injured to play.
Tri-Valley has had recent difficulty in fielding a competitive team from those successful programs. Tribute manager Art Scears, former TV Giants manager, dealt with his own issues during the league’s shut down due to Covid and considered walking away from managing. Mike “Pank” Pankow, TV 40s, played with Art’s Giants and they were teammates on the Cal Bears, along with their influential co-manager, Scott Kawaguchi. Pank asked Art to stay involved and help keep the Tri-Valley Family together, as a tribute to those great friends/players that can no longer help us. With no disrespect to all of the other talented players lost, Kenny Beecham was the motivation and inspiration behind this driving force, as he was as a player on the field! Art did not just agree to take on this new team, he came back with a renewed drive and passion to help build this new team in the spirit of those we’ve lost.
Cal TV Tribute was born during Covid, in a league without games, but was able to enter tournaments that were still held. The bond and passions grew with the participants that were valued more than winning. Tribute became recognizable to the competition in Arizona, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and Sacramento where so many players were familiar opponents to those teams. The team started to gel early and made several tourney playoffs and even made it to a Woodland championship game where the team lost in the ninth inning just before heading to Arizona.
The MSBL World Series 60’s Central Division consisted of four very talented teams, where each opponent was played twice, driven by the goal to win a bye to the championship game. Built on team speed, pitching, and use of the shared lineup, Tribute played the All-Star Baseball Academy in game one of pool play, where ASBA was short-handed due to so many players stuck in an east coast airport! Tribute won 4 to 2 on John Hadley’s complete game, along with offensive contributions from Myers, Howser, and Greg Reason’s double, run scored, and RBI.
Game two was an 8-2 win versus the Cubs on Eddie Delzer’s complete game with offensive support from Howser, Mindiola, Hughes, Pankow, Jenkins, and both Hadley’s.
Game three versus Houston ended in a 7 to 7 tie. Rich Epidendio pitched through errors and unearned runs before Howser pitched the last three scoreless innings. John Hadley doubled with two more singles, and two runs scored. It was a full team effort on the comeback after trailing 7-0 through six innings.
Game four saw us against ABSA once again as they had their full squad this time and beat us 16 to 12 with our poor defensive support. In game five, they survived to win an eighth-inning comeback over the Cubs 9 to 6 on another John Hadley complete game on one earned run. Hughes and Yamada led the offense.
The important game six was billed to earn the bye with a victory, where Houston had clinched the 2 or 3 seed already. Tribute beat the Tigers 17 to 0 behind Pankow’s five innings of shut-out ball on three hits with Wilgus closing out the last two. It was a complete team offensive effort.
The championship game in Goodyear Stadium on a gorgeous Saturday morning. The game was against the same Houston Tigers team that hungered to overcome the seven-run comeback that resulted in the tie and the 17-0 loss without their best effort.
Tribute opened the scoring on a John Hadley triple in the fourth and added two more with his double in the sixth. The Tigers tied it at three in the seventh inning on some clutch two-out hitting. Eddie Delzer completed his nine innings to set up the bottom of the ninth drama. A key base hit and a costly defensive mistake set up the 2-out, bases-loaded walk to John Hughes to end the championship game 4-3, sealing the win for Tribute and Co-MVP’s for Delzer and Hadley.