Orlando Spartans 7, Mustangs Baseball Club 3
The Orlando Spartans, founded in 2017 by manager Billy DeVuyst, have been participating in the Holiday Classic 45+ division for the past seven years. This year, they decided to add a 54+ team for the first time and it was a rousing success. Led by the dominant pitching of workhorse Willie Castro, who threw his second complete-game gem, the Spartans defeated perennial powerhouse DC Mustangs Baseball Club 7-3 to win the Holiday Classic 54+ American championship at Space Coast Complex.
Orlando went 4-1 in the tournament, defeating Westchester, NY, and Massachusetts in pool play, with their only loss to the Maine Diamond Dogs, who went on to upset the mighty Boston Wolfpack in the National division final. In the playoffs as the top seed in the American bracket, the Spartans soundly beat South Jersey 13-1 in the semi-final behind Joe Hamila’s dominant complete game.
In the championship versus the always dangerous Mustangs club, Co-MVP Castro kept their tough lineup off balance with a broad mix of pitches and pinpoint control. Castro also benefited from the excellent defense behind him as the Spartans did not commit an error in either playoff game. The offense was led by championship game Co-MVP Troy Fischer who smacked three doubles for two RBI and two runs scored. In addition, Rick Sanders crushed a 3-run triple providing the huge blow in a big 5-run, fourth-inning outburst.
For the tournament, the hitting stars were Hamilla, Fischer, Felix Soto Toro, Sammy Duda, Howard Williams, and Eddie Serrano who all hit .500 or higher all weekend. Despite missing three key players in the final, including Duda, Williams, and Lorenzo Poveda, the Spartans prevailed with a limited 12-man squad. Rounding out the championship roster are Valentin Gonzalez, who played stellar at shortstop, John Rothwell, Adrian Lopez, Mark Fontaine, Steve LaRussa, and Billy DeVuyst who all contributed throughout the weekend.