North County MSBL, 62+ American Division
Bruins 5, Thunder 2
October 9, 2021, Carlsbad, CA-The Thunder struck like lightning with a run in the top of the first inning at Carlsbad High School in the 62+ Championship Game but the talk in the Bruins dugout was, “one run ain’t gonna beat us”. The Bruins (6-4) had finished first in their division and had beaten the Thunder (5-5) in all three games they played head-to-head. But Baseball is a game designed to break your heart and going into the last inning the score remained Thunder 1, Bruins 0.
The Thunder added another run in the top of the last inning but were prevented from further damage when Rick Rubin’s sinker enticed the Thunder batter to hit a hard ground ball to third baseman Randy Brown who made a great play on what could’ve been a 2-run scoring double down the left-field line but instead he converted the smash into a 5-5-3 inning-ending double play, the third such defensive gem of the game by Bruin fielders.
Now the Bruins came to their last at-bat trailing 2-0 while running out of both time and innings. The leadoff Bruin hitters, Gary Nash and Tim Chen, both managed to reach base and the dark clouds began to lighten. The Bruins struggled to get the ball beyond the infield but were able to push a few runs across. Then with the bases loaded and two outs, Paul Colarusso drove the ball hard into right field promising to seal the deal at 5-2; if only the next hitter, Ray Andre, could run out the clock. And so, with a determined and inspired 11-pitch at-bat, foul ball after foul ball, after agonizing foul ball, relentless time was forced to give up the ghost and expired. The contest was concluded, and Gil Rodriguez, 20 years a manager, had his Championship.
All the Bruins players played their roles with focus and determination. Particular credit goes to the pitchers; Steve Smiley (SP 5 IP), and Rick Rubin (WP) allowing but one earned run to keep the Bruins hopes alive throughout the long game. Supporting the great pitching effort was a Bruin defense that committed but one error in the entire game and threw in three clutch inning-ending double plays for emphasis! Greg Bieg stood tall at first and Woody defended the plate and steadied the pitchers. The outfield was flawlessly covered by the steady Rick Haynie, Bill Phelps (playing in his last game), the likable Doug Brust, and Luis Vasquez who also played some first base. Luis Vasquez scored the go-head run on a wild pitch.
Bravo! to Carlos Pianelli for engineering the win with an innovative lineup, batting, and fielding, and passionately keeping Bruin heads high and in this tense game.
Next followed the ice water bath and a genuine love fest for their beloved manager Gil Jr. who pronounced “this is the happiest day of my baseball career”, a career which spans 20 years and counting of managing teams from 18+, 35+, 55+, and 62+.
The Thunder were gracious in defeat and are our longtime friends. A good time was had by all.
Thanks to Mrs. Vasquez for the photos and her support throughout the season. Grandson Lucci slept all the way home with a “Babe” signed baseball in his tiny hands.