2022 65+ National
San Antonio Defenders 14, Sacramento Tribe 8
Submitted by Joel Morley, Defender’s co-manager
The Defenders 65+ team beat the Sacramento Tribe 14-8 in the 65+ National Division Championship of the 2022 Las Vegas Kickoff Classic.
The Defenders were led by the pitching duo of Mike Denevi and Joe Whitmer. Denevi started the game in 48-degree weather with wind gusts to 25 mph. The Defenders scored first in the second inning with three straight hits by Gino Suter, Mike Denevi, and Blaine Olson. Suter scored on a wild pitch to make the score 1-0. The Tribe came right back with three runs on four hits and a walk to take the lead 3-1 after two innings.
The Defenders tied the game in the top of the third with hits by Joe Polance, Craig Aramaki, and Glenn Powers. Polance scored on Powers’ hit and Aramaki scored on an infield grounder by Mike Thatcher to make the game 3-3. The Tribe regained the lead in the bottom of the third on two singles and a Defenders error to make the score 4-3.
Singles by Mark Flatau, Albert Martinez, and Craig Aramaki and a walk by Ron Piacenti allowed the Defenders to regain the lead with three runs in the top of the fourth. Martinez and Aramaki had the RBI hits in that inning. The score was now 6-4 Defenders.
Down two in the bottom of the fourth, the Tribe came back with three singles and two walks for four runs to retake the lead 8-6. The Defenders changed pitchers and Joe Whitmer came in for the last out of the inning.
The Defenders re-took the lead for the fourth time with three runs in the fifth on consecutive singles by Powers, Thatcher, Suter, Denevi, and Olson. Suter scored on a wild pitch, while Denevi and Martinez had RBI singles to retake the lead, 9-8.
The Tribe went down in order in the bottom of the fifth.
Up by one, the Defenders added to their lead in the top of the sixth with four more runs. Polance started the inning with a single followed by singles by Aramaki and Powell and a walk by Thatcher. After a walk by Denevi, a SAC by Olson and a single by Flatau, the Defenders had scored four more and were up 13-8.
The Tribe was held scoreless in the bottom of the sixth.
With a 5-run lead, the Defenders had a single by Polance in the top of the seventh but were held scoreless going into the bottom of the seventh.
The Tribe went down in order in the bottom of the seventh.
The Defenders added another run in the top of the eighth on walks by Thatcher and Suter and a sacrifice bunt by Denevi. Olson knocked in the final run with an infield groundball that scored Thatcher. The Defenders led 14-8.
The Tribe had a single in the bottom of the eighth but didn’t score.
The top of ninth saw singles by Jim Barker, Keith Thomas, and Aramaki but no runs were scored.
The Tribe went down in order in the bottom of the ninth and the Defenders won the 65+ National Division Kickoff Classic Championship, 14-8.
The Defenders were led throughout the tournament with outstanding pitching and hitting. Denevi and Whitmer each won a pool game and shared the championship game with Whitmer getting the win. Jeff Wells got the save in game one. Barker and Martinez combined to win the third pool game.
Leading hitters for the tournament were Polance with nine hits, Thatcher, Flatau, and Suter with eight hits each, Olson with seven hits and Powell, Aramaki, and Dan Little each with six. Thatcher had one home run and Powell was on base 10 times. Powell and Aramaki each had four stolen bases.
The defense for the Defenders was led by catchers Dave Howard and Blaine Olson. Thatcher, Aramaki, Flautau, Powers, Polance, and Little roamed the outfield without an error in four games. Polance and Powers each had assists throwing out runners from the outfield. Suter, Denevi, and Martinez handled shortstop and second base with Barker, Alex Brunet, and Wells taking care of first. Paul McPherson played the entire tournament at third base with several diving plays for outs in the championship game.
The Defenders were co-managed by Joel Morley and Bob Sherwin with Bill Rector the general manager.