Southern Wisconsin MABL, 45+ Division
Sand Crabs 7, Crawfords 6
Submitted by Steve Hill, edited by Andy Winn
It was an absolutely glorious day for baseball in Southern Wisconsin at EMLL Senior Field. October 2 was the date, which if you are scoring at home, has historically included days of 22-degree snow flurries and 87-degree scorchers, depending on the year. Also, if you are scoring at home, good for you. You’re obviously doing something right. Today’s 71-degree high was welcome.
The 10-3 Crawfords faced off against the 11-1-1 Sand Crabs in the championship round of the 45+ division of the MABL of So Wis. The Sand Crabs were looking to retain the championship trophy for their sixth straight year. The weather was beautiful, as was the game. Sit back, relax, and take this all in…
On the mound for the visiting Craws was right-hander Jeff Adas. In his previous outing versus the Sand Crabs, he had imposed his will and handed the Crabs their first and only loss of the season, baffling the bats of the clawed crusaders. He would be battling against Mike Wallace, a prior SPOG* of the highest caliber in this season-ender.
Both teams went quietly in the first and second, and the Crawfords struck first in the top of the third. Shortstop Andy Winn reached on a scorcher off shortstop Mike Schoonveld’s glove/knee. He advanced to second when second baseman Shad Fanta was hit by a pitch, and a single by center fielder Rob Grether loaded the bases. A liner to center resulted in Fanta being doubled off second but a double-steal allowed Winn to race home for the first run, but that was it for their half of the third.
The Crabs hit back for three in the bottom of the third after Ward “Havoc” Paxton was struck by an errant pitch. He advanced to second on a single to left by center fielder Steve Hill and advanced to third on a single by catcher Chris McGill. Bases juiced. Crabs’ shortstop Mike Schoonveld walked for a ribeye to score Paxton, then third baseman Jake Kas stroked a single that scored Hill and McGill. 3-1 Crustaceans.
In the fourth, the Crawfords tied things up in this see-saw battle. Third baseman Mike Starshak led things off by reaching on an error but was gunned down by McGill when he attempted thievery of second. Crawfords right fielder Keith Richley singled, then scored on an Adas home run bomb to the left-center gap. (Below is a picture of the 2021 championship team)
The bottom of the fourth would see the Sand Crabs manufacturer another run to go up by one. Second baseman Troy Galson singled, stole second, and scored on a single by third baseman Tim “Mackles” McInernay. 4-3 Crabs.
In the fifth and sixth, Wallace shut down the intrepid Crawford lineup with 1-2-3 innings, whilst the Sandies got one more on a double to right by outfielder Barry Davis, who scored moments later on a seeing-eye single by Hill that barely evaded the reach of the fleet-of-foot shortstop Winn. Hill tried to get greedy on the throw to the plate but was thrown out trying to advance to second by Crawfords catcher Paul Meyer. 5-3 Sand Crabs.
In the top of the seventh, the Crawfords struck back for two to tie things at five, on singles by Adas and left fielder Steve Kilberg, along with a fielder’s choice by Winn and a single by Fanta that scored Kilberg. Meyer then flew out to left with Winn scoring from third on the sac fly. The bottom of the seventh saw the Crabs get back two. Galston singled and stole second, then scored on a double by Wallace. Jason Himebauch then reached on an error. OF/2B Randy Olivares singled to knock in Wallace, and an errant throw to the plate sent Himebauch plateward, where he was intercepted by a Jeter-like hustle play by Craw’s first baseman Sean Michael Dargan who fielded a throw and tagged Himebauch out. 7-5 Crabs.
In the eighth, Crabs reliever Schoonveld started out with a rather rough inning. Starshak walked. Richley doubled to deep right to score Starshak. Dargan was hit by a pitch, as was Adas who followed. Kilberg K’d for the first out, then Winn hit into a fielder’s choice that got Richley at the plate, and Fanta grounded to the pitcher to end the threat. 7-6 Crabs.
Schoonveld’s sigh of relief could be heard above the noise of planes landing at MSN. The Sand Crabs were held scoreless in the bottom of the eighth by reliever Grether, and Schoonveld shut the door in the top of the ninth by striking out Grether, then displaying some cat-like quickness while fielding a line drive off the bat of DH Dan Ketter, then doubling up Meyer who had walked. Game over. 7-6 Crabs final.
What a game. Both teams quenched their respective thirsts at Slices, and there is no doubt they are out of Schlitz. Fun times were had discussing the game and an upcoming joint effort in two weeks when the MABL of Southern Wisconsin sends a team of its finest to Phoenix to participate in the 50+ World Series.
I like our chances.
See you next season!!