SoCal Jaxx 16, Roadkill 5
‘Jaxx Go Undefeated for First Championship’
For the SoCal Jaxx, the 2024 MSBL Desert Classic was about finally putting all the pieces together. The core of the squad has been chasing the trophy in Palm Springs for a decade. In 2024, that core, with a few additions from close to home, came together with, two desert locals, and five boys all the way from Maui to build a team that was ready to take on all comers.
Game one for the Jaxx started on a chilly Friday night versus a good-hitting Oakland Oaks squad. The cold temps did nothing to stop flamethrower Carlos Villanueva from controlling the strike zone and racking up 12 punchouts in six innings. Offensively, the first of a few big two-out hits came off the bat of David Robinson for two RBI to open the scoring for the Jaxx. Clutch hitting and good defense, including a diving play in foul territory by Maui native Jay Rigsby to end the game, earned the Jaxx a game-one win.
Game two saw the all-Maui battery of Michael Gilligan on the mound, and John Schnettgoecke behind the dish, taking on the Stockton Tigers. What started as a close game ended up going the Jaxx way because of great pitching, stellar defense, and a barrage of hits including a laser off the bat or Armont Prudhomme that sent the Tiger’s pitcher to his backside, and then to the showers, when he decided that he was done on the mound for the day. The final score was 10-5. The Jaxx were off to a 2-0 start.
With a shot to finish as the top seed through the round-robin stage, the Jaxx sent Hector Garcia out to the mound with one task, allowing as few runs as possible. He proved more than up to that task by throwing seven shutout innings and was backed by an offensive explosion. Every bat in the lineup contributed as the team totaled 16 runs on the day. Game three went to the Jaxx. The Jaxx were 3-0 in pool play, and when all the results were tallied, had earned the top seed they were working towards.
The semi-final game pitted the Jaxx against a familiar foe in the Oakland Oaks. Mike Gilligan started with only one day of rest and worked hard in what was a back-and-forth game. Just as the Jaxx started pulling away, the scrappy Oaks battled back to the tune of four runs in the top of the ninth to tie the ballgame.
Team manager Joey Diaz had to make some shrewd pitching changes to limit the damage. He called on David Robinson to get two big outs, then Guy Lopez came in, and after an intentional walk, finished the inning without letting the go-ahead run score from third. The last of the ninth started with two big hits, and a textbook sacrifice bunt by Alex Garcia to advance the winning run to third. A hard line drive single by Julio Lopez scored the winning run and sent the Jaxx to the championship game.
The Jaxx put the championship game in the hands of their ace Carlos Villanueva. Throwing a mix of all his pitches allowed him to keep a typically great hitting Roadkill team off balance for a solid seven innings. The Jaxx bats did the rest.
A big 4 for 4 game at the plate by Ryan Page, and multi-hit games from a number of other hitters turned into 12 runs scored against the Roadkill starter. Four more runs scored in the later innings and when all was said and done, the scoreboard read 16-5. The Jaxx had finally found all the right pieces. When they were put together, it all added up to a CHAMPIONSHIP!!!