2022 65+ National

Massachusetts Chiefs 14, Pittsburgh Brewers 11

‘Chiefs Go ‘Back-to-Back’ in Slugfest with Brewers’

Submitted by Steve Eddy, Chiefs’ manager

The Massachusetts Chiefs 65s successfully defended their 2021 title with a 14-11 win in the finals over the Pittsburgh Brewers. The week was marred by a tropical storm that canceled all games on Wednesday and Thursday. Those cancellations forced doubleheaders to be played with strict time limits on Tuesday and left the Chiefs with a mediocre 2-2 record.

Facing a demotion to a lower level of playoffs with a Friday morning loss, I made a major defensive change by pulling center fielder Craig Eddy in to play second base and turned to high school teammate Rob Race to throw the crucial game. Immediate dividends were paid on those changes when Craig threw a runner out at the plate and helped turn an inning-ending double play in the first. After Rob gave up a run in that first inning, he shut out Puerto Rico the rest of the way in a 7-1 win. Chuck Mountain led the offense going 3 for 3, scoring twice, and picking up an RBI.

As the #5 seed, the Chiefs then took on the Long Island Yankees in the quarter-finals of the National division. Race again started the game, going three innings with Ken Jungsten throwing the final six. The bats were alive as Massachusetts won easily 17-4. Matt Brannelly had four hits and four RBIs, while Mac Noblin also contributed four hits.

Up next were the Minnesota Bees in the semis. Chiefs #1 pitcher, Barry Foster, got the call and responded with a nine-inning, 3-hit, 138-pitch gem. Rick Allison’s RBI triple and Gary Rima’s 2-out RBI single had given the Chiefs a 2-0 lead in the third. The Bees tied it in the fourth and it stayed that way until the ninth. A Bill Bradish single, Gary Shuffain double, and a walk loaded the bases with one out. A passed ball, followed by a wild pitch, brought home the deciding runs and a 4-2 win.

The final versus Pittsburgh, a Chiefs’ nemesis for decades, was started by newcomer Gabe Mastrangelo. Gabe lasted seven innings and left with a 4-run lead. When Pittsburgh closed the gap to three and had runners on first and third with one out, Foster was summoned from the bullpen to get the last five outs. The Chiefs fooled the Pittsburgh runner on third on the following steal attempt, trapping him in a rundown between third and home. That out seemed to take the wind out of Pittsburgh, as Foster retired four of the next five hitters to secure the win. The offense was led by Foster, 3 hits/3 RBI, Allison, 3 hits/3 RBI, and Shuffain, 3 hits/2 RBI.

Mastrangelo won two games, Foster had one win and the finals save, while Kevin Hagan, Race, and Jungsten picked the other wins. With the #1 catcher testing positive for covid upon arrival in Palm Beach, Tim McGivern stepped up and caught every inning of every game, which earned him Team MVP for the week.

One other thing I would like to mention is that my 90-year-old father, Richard, coached first base every inning of every game for us. My son, Nick, was our official scorekeeper and my brother, Craig, was a major contributor for the Chiefs all week.  They all made this championship extra special.