North County Mudcats 24, Tri-Valley Antiques 5
Submitted by Jim Teeter, Mudcats manager
San Diego’s North County Mudcats won the 2022 Las Vegas Kick-off Classic tournament 70+ division Monday afternoon (March 14) at Heritage Park with a 24-5 victory over the Tri-Valley Antiques.
After losing a classic battle with the Tri-Valley Antiques in pool game one Saturday, the Mudcats came from behind in game two versus a tough Philadelphia Phillies team in a nail-biter with ace Mike Tricker on the mound.
On Sunday the Mudcats regained their defensive skills and gathered some much-needed momentum with complete game shut-outs by manager John “Hoppy” Hopkins versus the Cal Vets (with 6 K’s) in the morning game and by Frank Milian versus a strong Fresno team in the afternoon game.
The championship game Monday was the classic battle that has played out between these same teams (Antiques and Mudcats) in several prior seasons, each team putting up valiant efforts. It was the Mudcats this time. Gunslinger Billy Howard pitched a masterful complete-game victory mixing up a heavy fastball and biting curve that kept the heavy-hitting Antiques at bay.
Buzz Mann led the Mudcats for the tournament hitting at .765 and dazzled at shortstop with his traditional dirtiest uniform on the field. Jim Teeter hit .727 and won the managers’ PITA award coaching from the bench. Randall Kosecki hit .692 with a home run and made a pair of unbelievable catches in center field. Manager Hoppy Hopkins and outfielder Paul Bilger completed the .600+ club at .667 and .625, respectively.
Notable contributions were also made by catchers Jim McArdle, who caught three games, and Alan McKee, who caught two. Joe Tarka remained the ‘King of the Sac’ while Gordon Bennett seemed to always be on the bases.
Pete Aadland created some of the hardest-hit balls in the series and Rick Haynie combined lonely outfield play with some timely hits. We are also very much appreciative of Leonard Garcia’s playing and coaching of third base.
Coach Hopkins credited the tournament win to fantastic guys who communicated great and supplied outstanding pitching.