Sacramento MSBL, 18+ National Division
Yankees 3, Indians 2 (Game three in best of three championship series)
‘Russell Leads the Way on the Bump’
The Sacramento Yankees defeated the Sacramento Indians 3-2 in game three of the SMSBL championship series Tuesday night October 4th @ Army Depot winning their sixth Championship out of eight seasons. There was no love lost between the two clubs as things were chippy throughout the series and it brought out the best in both teams.
Game one was dominated by former Texas Ranger right-hander John Kukuruda who threw a 3-hit shutout in a 3-0 Yankee victory. That performance however landed him on the DL as he threw out his back and couldn’t pitch again in the series. Game two saw the Yankees jump out to a 6-1 lead only to see the Indians rally off five Yankee errors to win 8-7.
That would set the stage for game three where veteran right-hand pitcher Eddie Russell (Florida Marlins) turned in a performance for the ages, tossing a complete game and retiring the last eight Indians he faced, vaulting the Yankees into SMSBL history. The 45yr old Russell won his seventh SMSBL 18+ title and is now the SMSBL all time ‘Wins’ leader with over 70 in his men’s league career. He has been the best big game pitcher in Northern California for years and has won numerous MSBL World Series rings in Arizona as well, while showing no signs of slowing down.
The Indians would take a 1-0 lead to the fourth inning until the Yankees rallied for three runs, led by Art Valenzuela’s 2-RBI double, and an RBI single by high school star second baseman Mike Santos-LaPlaca. The Yankees were flawless defensively and were a completely a different unit from game two.
The 2022 Yankees were led by grizzled Veterans and ex professionals, Mike Huddleston – Indy (49), former second round pick Jake Joseph -NY Mets (45) Jay Landreth – Pitt Pirates (48) and Eddie Russell -Flo Marlins (45). The team went through an enormous amount of season ending injuries along with nagging injuries that guys played through including star catcher Mike Huddleston who played the Championship series with a pulled groin. It was Mikes seventh 18+ SMSBL title as he led the team and staff behind the plate. The Yankees lost seven starting players to injuries forcing the Yankees to bring in three High School kids just to field a team. Despite all the adversity the Yankees led the league offensively scoring 31 more runs than the next closest team, averaging nearly nine runs a game.
The Yankee pitching staff was dominant all season posting a 1.74 team ERA which led the team to the #1 seed and ultimately the 18+ title. The off season will be very interesting as the Yankee brass will meet at the winter meetings to determine if the organization will go after #7. The salary cap is never an issue, and the farm system is looking stronger than ever so another run could be in play!