2022 55+ National

Mustangs Baseball Club 8, Suncoast Suns 7


Submitted by Mike LaComb, Mustangs’ manager

The 55 Mustangs Baseball Club had a wild week at this year’s Fall Classic National Division tournament, as we won our second National level Fall Classic Championship out of the last three years.

The team opened up the week with a resounding 19 to 0  win behind the strong pitching of Chris Dunn. Jimmy O’Connor, Jose Vazquez, Dunn, and Dave Carrodine all got two hits apiece to lead the offense.

In our second game, we followed with another impressive 8-2 victory with Mark Reinerth, (aka Rhino), dominating on the mound. Mike McConnell led the offense with three hits, and Dave Carrodine had three RBIs on the day.

The next day we had to play a triple header due to Hurricane Ian hitting Florida. Despite us losing defensive standouts George Cooper to injury, and Mike McConnell to the flu, and a tough hard luck outing on the mound for Heriberto Bermudez, (aka Zorro), we managed to win our last game of the day to secure a spot in the National Division Playoffs. Thanks in large part to catcher Bobby Hoeft who caught all three games that day.  George Kerst added three hits and John Denney notched two hits in that final round-robin game.

In the quarterfinals, Kai Schjang pitched a gem to lead the team to a 10-1 win. On the offensive side, Jose Vazquez and Chris Dunn each had three hits, while Jaime Castillo, George Kerst, Robert Doggett, and Jimmy O’Connor all had two hits apiece.

The semifinal game featured a late-inning come-from-behind 3-2 win as the Mustangs scored three runs in the eighth inning off of former major league pitcher, Mike Smith, to defeat the top-seeded and previously undefeated All-Star Baseball Academy as the tournament’s MVP, Chris Dunn, banged out a two-run triple, and Robert Doggett followed that up with an RBI single. Jaime Castillo scattered five hits to get the complete game win.

Despite the excitement from the semifinal win carrying over into the championship game, things started out looking bleak for the Mustangs as Suncoast scored five runs in the first inning. But, Mustangs starter, Mark Reinerth, kept his team in the game by matching Suncoast’s ace pitcher, Dan Kapitzke, with each of them throwing shutout innings through the fifth. Each team scored two runs in the sixth. Wilson Reyes entered the game on the mound for the Mustangs to finish the sixth inning and then threw shutout innings in the seventh and eighth.

Then in the top of the ninth inning, with the Mustangs trailing 7-2, the miracle comeback of a lifetime took place.

With nobody on base, two outs, and two strikes on pinch hitter Shaun Hires, he lined a sharp single into center, while Bobby Hoeft followed with a walk.  Steve Hutchinson, the longest-tenured Mustang player/Assistant Manager, began directing his base runners around the bases with a timely double steal. Jimmy O’Connor then doubled them home to make it 7-4. Jose Vazquez and George Kerst followed with singles to get it to 7-5.

Suncoast lifted their starting pitcher, and Robert Doggett and Chris Dunn promptly singled to make the score 7-6. Then to climax the inning, Dave Carrodine singled to right to drive in two runs as the Mustangs took an 8-7 lead. The ecstatic Mustangs took the field in the bottom of the ninth as Wilson Reyes threw another shutout inning to secure the most unbelievable improbable comeback win in the history of MSBL tournaments!