2021 Dragons Dethrone Jazz for First Redwood Empire 65+ Championship

Redwood Empire Baseball League, 65+ Division

Dragons 12, Jazz 5 (Game three of championship series)

Submitted by Allan Green, Dragon’s manager

It took three seasons, but the Dragons finally knocked off the perennial champion Jazz for the 2021 Redwood Empire Baseball League 65+ championship.  For the third consecutive season the two evenly matched teams slugged it out; it took 27 innings in one weekend for the Dragons to wrestle the title from the Jazz.

The Dragons entered the championship series with a record of 17-1 after cruising past the Seals in the semifinal series. The Jazz came in at 15-3 after sweeping the Vets the previous weekend.

The Dragons took an 11-3 lead in the first game of the championship series, but the Jazz roared back to tie the game in the eighth inning.  The Dragons plated one in the bottom of the eighth but the Jazz tied it again in the ninth.  The Dragons escaped with the victory when Rich Epidendio came through with a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the ninth.

The following morning the Dragons again took the lead at 6-4, but ageless Jazz starter David Charp dominated the last few innings and the Jazz offense took over, bludgeoning the Dragons 12-6.  That precipitated a third and final game, with both teams exhibiting the strain of so much action.

Gary Nelson took the mound for the Dragons, put the team on his back and carried them to the championship.  He pitched into the eighth inning, allowing only five runs.  The Dragons pulled away, adding four runs in the bottom of the eighth. Clutch relief pitching from Steve Rhinehart and closer Larry Hendrickson iced the 12-5 win for the Dragons.

Rich Peters led the Dragons with a .609 post-season average and 11 RBIs; Mark Fess hit .600 and drove in 13.  Dragon leadoff man Carter Njus scored 13 runs in the five games.

The Jazz offense was led by Paul Johnson, who hit .682 and scored ten runs in five playoff games.  Mike Farris and Bill Furbush each had nine RBIs in the five games.