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2018 Enola Angels Capture First Title in Pennsylvania Midstate Baseball League

Pennsylvania Midstate Baseball League

Enola Angels 5, Enola Yankees 2

 ‘Halos Win First Title Behind Pisani Mound Dominance’

ENOLA (PA) – Even Mother Nature could not stop the Enola Angels from capturing their first PAMBL 28+ title in just their third year in the league. The season was filled with postponements, games called early and several make up dates due to a heavy dose of rain throughout the Spring and Summer months across Central Pennsylvania. Ultimately, in a season that seemingly ran forever, the Angels came out victorious over the Enola Yankees in the best-of-three championship series.

The Angels were formed by twin brothers Kody and Kory Ness. Their goal was to continue playing the game they love while honoring a friend and former teammate who passed away suddenly in May of 2014, Matthew Lingo. Once they were age eligible, they formed a team to play in the PAMBL (appropriately named the Angels) and began league play in 2016. The first year in the league was a learning experience for the brothers and their teammates, resulting in a 7-18 record and a first-round playoff exit. Year two, the team welcomed some new faces and saw drastic improvements across the board with their hitting, pitching and defense, leading to an overall record of 16-11. Unfortunately, the Angels could not overcome the eventual league champion, Mifflinburg Phillies, bowing out in game three of the best-of-three semifinal series.

Fast forward to year three, and the Angels began the 2018 season riding a wave of confidence that they could now compete with anyone in the 9-team league. Adding a few more dedicated pieces and beginning to bond more like a team of brothers, the Angels jumped out to a 9-1 start and were certain this was their year. A midseason slump resulting in a 1-4-1 record over their next six games tested the team’s mettle and proved they would have to overcome adversity in order to succeed. The Halos would finish the regular season at 12-7-1, after losing two competitive matchups in their regular season finale with the Mifflinburg Phillies.

Billed as “The Train Yard Series” because of both teams sharing a field in close proximity to the Norfolk Southern Rail Yard in Enola, the Angels and Yankees were both eager to crown themselves as kings of the town and the league in this highly anticipated matchup. Sharing a field at East Pennsboro High School offered both teams minimal travel and a home field advantage feel during the series, which did not disappoint.

Game one went to the designated road team, the Angels, by a score of 6-2. The Yankees jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but the lead did not last long as the Halos came right back with one of their own in the second and four in the third to take a commanding 5-1 lead. They would eventually go up 6-1 on an error in the top of the sixth inning. The Yankees would get the run back in the bottom of the sixth on a bases loaded walk to close the gap to 6-2, but that would be the closest they would get as Nick Pisani would retire them in order in the bottom of the seventh to finish off another complete game. Pisani would throw 113 pitches (75 for strikes) and struck out an eye-popping 13 Yankees batters on the game. He would also record two hits on the day to help himself at the plate. Joining him in the multi-hit column were Doug Henderson, Josh Dinterman and Toby Bradbury. Dinterman and Kody Ness each had two RBIs in the game.

Game two did not go the Angels way, as they were handed a convincing 9-0 loss, evening the series at one game apiece and setting up a decisive, winner-take-all game three. Chet Haifley pitched a complete game gem for the Yankees, allowing five hits and one walk while striking out six. Mike Hellam and Matt Long combined to throw six innings in a losing effort for the Angels, who were done in by quiet bats and three errors in the game. Hellam had the only multi-hit game for the Angels in the loss.

The Angels had two things working to their advantage in what would be the final game of the season, win or lose, for both teams. The first advantage was that they were the home team, with final at bats if need be. Secondly, their left-handed ace, Nick Pisani, was ready and eager to help his team claim the championship. Game three of each series was unique in that it was a single 9-inning game, different from the regularly played 7-inning games that took place over the course of a doubleheader. There was more time for comebacks and more time for nervousness as to what the outcome would be.

The Halos did not wait around, this time getting to Yankees pitcher Chet Haifley early in the bottom of the first. They went up 2-0 after one on RBI singles by Josh Dinterman and Mike Hellam, and then pushed the lead to 4-0 after an error would score a run and an RBI single by Kody Ness. The cushion was more than enough for Pisani, who worked the strike zone effectively through the first six innings. He would encounter some trouble in the top of the seventh, as the Yankees’ Devin Dellinger would double home two runs to cut the Angels lead in half at 4-2. Hellam would again provide a spark for the Angels in the bottom of the seventh, hitting home Sam Watkins on a sacrifice fly to increase the lead to 5-2. Other than anxiously anticipating the conclusion, the final two innings would prove uneventful for fans as teams combined for just one hit.

In the top of the ninth, Pisani would need just ten pitches to set down the Yankees in order and lead the Enola Angels to victory, with a final score of 5-2. The icing on the cake was a strikeout of one of the Yankees more prolific hitters on just three pitches to end the game, bringing jubilation to the Angels and their fans. The lefty would finish with a line of: 9 innings, 120 pitches (88 strikes), 4 hits, 2 runs (1 ER), 1 BB and 7 K – a truly championship worthy performance.  Doug Henderson, Kory Ness, Sam Watkins, Josh Dinterman, Kody Ness and Kyle Bornman all collected multiple total bases for the Angels in a 14-hit outburst.

The Enola Yankees and their manager, Perry Owen (competing in his final season), should not be discredited for having a remarkable season and finishing one game short of winning the league title. The Angels, however, were victorious on this day – finishing an up-and-down season with a superb record of 18-9-1, fighting injuries and adversity along the way to bring home the trophy. Pisani was mobbed by teammates as the dugout cleared and the Angels celebrated their first championship in team history. Playing in a highly competitive league, they proved that the new guys have what it takes to win it all too.

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2018 Brewers Make it Six in a Row in Delaware MSBL

Delaware MSBL 30+ Division

Delaware Brewers 3, Diablos 1

Bottom Left to Right:  Marc Prado (Manager), Ken Bilicke, Scott Rothwell, Joe Morales, Casey Holland. Top Left to Right:  Chad Jenkins, Clint Kuhl, Scott West, Chris Emrey, Matt Trate, Rick Hein, Mike Daniels, Anthony Scarangello. Not pictured:  Mike Montgomery, Chris Trate, Dave Anson, Jim Ayers

‘Brewers Celebrate Six Titles in a Row’

Submitted by Marc Prado, Brewers manager

The Delaware Brewers captured their sixth straight Delaware Adult Baseball League championship in epic fashion. In the semi-final single elimination match-up the Brewers were down five runs with six outs remaining against the Walton’s Drillers and rallied for the win. Scott Rothwell’s walk off RBI double sealed the comeback and paved the way for the Brewer’s match-up in the finals against the upstart Diablos for the second consecutive year.

The Diablos won the first game of the best of three series behind the strong pitching and timely offense. In the second game the Brewers were down seven runs early in the game but veteran pitcher Rick Hein entered the game in the third inning and didn’t allow a run. With six outs left the Brewers again found themselves down five runs but rallied behind a “refuse to lose” mentality and total team effort to win and force a deciding game.

In a Herculean effort, Rick Hein again took the mound in the championship game and pitched five strong innings. The Brewers were up 3-1 in the fifth and then turned to Clint Kuhl to finish things out from the hill, who extinguished any hope the Diablo’s had for a comeback. The game ended 3-1 and secured the Brewer’s sixth straight title and their 13th in the past 16 years!

The Brewers pitching staff recorded a 9-3 record combined with a 2.65 ERA and recorded an opponent’s batting average of only .196

The Offense was lead by Casey Holland who posted a .429 batting average followed by Rick Hein (.412), Matt Trate (.400), Marc Prado (.368), and Scott West (.364).

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2018 Thunder Win Third Straight Mid-Iowa Division Title, Capture First Tourney Crown

Mid-Iowa Baseball League, 18+ Division

Des Moines Thunder 11, Des Moines Cubs 6

‘Cook Posts Perfect 8-0, 0.69 ERA for Season’

Submitted by Bob Thornton, Thunder manager

This year the Thunder team from the 18+ division of the Mid Iowa Baseball League was able to finally capture a season sweep in titles. For the last two seasons we have been able to win the regular season but come up short both times in the tournament. The Thunder success is based on returning some solid veteran players while adding some key energetic and very talented ball players. It was just a matter of time before we would get it done in the tournament, as we worked hard all offseason to accomplish this goal and it was so great to see it end the way we wanted.

All season long we battled in a tough 18+ Division in the MIBL winning 10 straight to start the season. After wrapping up the Division Championship with a 2-0 game one win over our rival team “Bandits” we were handed our only loss of the season in a nail biter 7-6 game two ball game. Trey Cook threw an outstanding 3-hit 8.1 innings while Chad Olser came in to close the door on the Bandits in the ninth. Corey Rasmussen, Wes Volk and Cole Scieszinski all had two hits in game one.

Thunder posted their best season to date with an overall 13-1 record, while only giving up an average of 2.91 runs a game while scoring nine runs per game. Season MVP Trey Cook was a perfect 8-0 with an ERA of 0.69 on the season, while striking out 56 batters in 52.1 innings of work. We got strong performances from all of our players this year with a lot of timely hits and clutch pitching performances. Some of our notable performers from the plate were: RF-Mike Eckhart (.500), C-Troy DuBay (.429) and 3B Sean Roberts (.425). In addition to Cook we got a huge boost from Gaige Thompson, who came off a Tommy John injury in 2017 while electing to work through it and not have the surgery, posting a 1.97 ERA with 16 K’s in 32 innings of work.

On Sunday, August 19, the Des Moines Thunder captured their first postseason 18+ Division tournament title with an 11-6 victory over the Des Moines Cubs.  Sean Roberts was named tournament MVP, going 3×5 with two doubles, four RBI, three walks and one run scored.  While Trey Cook picked up the win in the title game throwing six innings, Chad Osler picked up the save closing out the last three innings. Gaige Thompson was the winning pitcher in the Semifinal game where the Thunder beat the Cardinals 5-2. Thompson went 6.2 innings while Chad Osler closed out the last 2.1 innings. They combined for eight strikeouts in the win. Thunder is looking to carry this momentum into 2019 as we look to defend our titles yet again.

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2018 Bombers Topple Giants for 50+ National Division Title in Sacramento

Sacramento Men’s Baseball League, 50+ National Division

Sacramento Bombers 11, Giants 4

‘Combined Mound Core Paves Way to Title’

Submitted by Jeff Gardenhire, Bombers manager

(photo courtesy of Jane Burkitt) The Sacramento Bombers had many firsts this year, with a mix of old relationships. Many of us have played together for many years and also play in Arizona at the MSBL World Series.  The idea to form our own team come up when we played in Arizona in 2017 in the Father/Son tournament as the Capitals. We had many contributions from the players to get to the playoffs. A couple of late additions rounded out an already good group.

This year was the first Sacramento Summer League team I’ve managed since 2008. Two players came out of retirement to play; Rick Crump and his cousin Tal. They made up a family trio of Crumps.  Tal, Rick and Bob. Rick has had both knees replaced a few years back and it was fun seeing him back on field.  He even stole a couple of bases to show off his new found speed! That gave some of us hope who are on the fence regarding the surgery.

Our Sacramento Bombers won the Sacramento Men’s 50 National Division championship while playing in a very tough division against some of the best players in the nation. We ended up as the number two seed, as the Giants claimed the number one seed by one game.

The league playoff format is a one game elimination to advance to a best of three series. We had to go through Gary Stonebrook and the Royals to get to the championship. Gary is an MSBL Hall of Fame member and owns a lot of rings from Arizona. He was on his game the night we played them, as we were down 1-0 going in to the bottom of the seventh. However, we were able to get a couple of runners on base when Rick Crump lined a double over the left fielders head to win the game. That was certainly an exciting walk off victory for the Bombers!

The Championship pitted us against the number one seed Giants. They are led by Bobby Brown, a Sacramento Hall of Fame member and his teams are always competitive. It was our starting pitching that got us the series win as we were just a bit deeper. It was a great series against a great opponent.

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2018 Knights Exorcise Demon Spirits for Fall ‘Brazos’ Championship in North Texas

North Texas Amateur Baseball League, Fall ‘Brazos’ Division

Knights 8, Dallas Spirits 0

‘Knights Exorcise Demon Spirits for Fall Championship in North Texas’

Submitted by Rodger Battani, Knights manager

November 14, 2018…The crisp fall air felt like a frosty blanket, setting the unusual stage for the North Texas Amateur Baseball League Brazos Division Fall Championship game. Game time temperature read 34 degrees. Tonight’s contest featured the two time defending champion Dallas Spirits against the upstart Knights. On paper this was a mismatch. Baseball is for the boys of summer, but on this night both teams were bundled up tighter that the Sunday morning newspaper. Knights starting catcher, Greg “Cash Money” Pennywell, set the tone during pre-game warm ups stating, “I’m envisioning somebody catching one a little thin and littering fingers all over the infield.”

The visiting Knights faced the hard throwing Spirits ace, Jason Bottenfield. Their starter got a swinging third strike to record the first out of the ball game then I followed with an infield single. With only one out, Haley “The Comet” Hougen moved me to second with a single to right center. Matt “The Sheriff” Lawley’s fielder’s choice ground ball forced Hougen at second, putting runners at the corners with two outs. A wild pitch gave the Knights an early lead, as I scored the first run of the contest. Greg Pennywell drew a base on balls and Michael “Deuce” Kubik reached on a fielding error to load the bases. Jesus “El Gato Grande” Marquez worked the count full before recording an outstanding ten pitch base on balls, scoring run number two. David “Walking Dead” Poole then rifled an RBI single to left field stretching the margin to 3-0 Knights. The Blue & Orange couldn’t have envisioned a better start to the battle.

The Knights sent starting pitcher Keaton “Shogun” Hougen to the top of the mountain, as he was equal to the task. Hougen struck out Brant Finchum at the top of the order and got Bottenfield to fly out to left field. Kirk Sipila flared a single into shallow right field and the Spirits fabulous cleanup hitter, Travis “Adonis” Hitzeman, smashed a double down the left field line. Brother Haley Hougen hustled into the corner and threw a laser to Marquez at third base, preventing Sipila from advancing home. A wild pitch later in the inning put a punctuation mark on the importance of that moment, when Pennywell retrieved the baseball and placed a throw right on top of the dish. “Shogun” narrowly beat Sipila to the plate and deftly applied the slap tag, preserving the shutout after one complete inning.

The Knights hit the ground running in the top of the second, with consecutive singles from Keaton Hougen and Greg “Tomahawk” Haddon. I then followed with a hot shot to the second baseman, but the fielder muffed the chance, loading the bases with nobody out. Haley Hougen followed with a sky fly ball down the right field line, headed for no man’s land in shallow right, but was ruled an infield fly for out number one. Brother Keaton was able to score from third base on the play, earning a RBI for his sibling, and the other runners advanced a base. Lawley plated Haddon, with a ground out to shortstop, and I moved to third. The aptly named “Cash Money” Pennywell gave the Knights a six run cushion, chasing home “The Poet” (Me), with a single to left field. Kubik grounded out to the second basemen, recording the third out, but the Knights had given a 6-0 advantage to their starter.

Hougen struck out Bobby Kornhauser and then gave up a single to the Spirits speedster, David “Superfly” Tipton. Hougen then struck out Eric McPherson, but Tipton stole second base during the at bat. John “Playboy” Hefner’s infield pop out ended the inning, while Hougen nestled the ball in his glove just in front of the mound.

The Knights offense continued the charge in the top of the third, when Marquez singled into shallow right field. Poole walked behind, but was forced at second on Leggett’s fielder’s choice ground ball. Poole replaced Leggett at first, as a designated runner, and stole second base, to reach scoring position. Keaton Hougen took a called third strike for the second out of the inning, and Haddon took his turn at the top of the order. “Tomahawk” punished the baseball for a two run double, and the Knights had shattered the glass ceiling for an improbable 8-0 head start.

The Spirits came to life in the bottom of the third, with consecutive singles from Jonathan Duran and Jack Nash. Hougen painted the outside corner for a called third strike on Finchum, and Bottenfield lashed a rocket to left, loading the bases with only one out. The Spirits MVP Kirk Sipila dug in at the plate but Hougen calmly flipped his harmless come-backer to Pennywell at home, who easily relayed to Lawley at first base for the inning ending 1-2-3 double play.

The Spirits made a pitching change in the top of the fourth, when Hitzeman took over for Bottenfield, as two grounders and a fielder’s choice took care of the Knights. The Spirits also came up empty in the inning thanks to a spectacular catch by right fielder “Deuce” Kubic ending in a double play at first.

The Spirits went to the pitching well once again, replacing Hitzeman in the fifth with Jonathan Duran.   Poole and Leggett got consecutive one out singles for the Knights, but three ground outs in the inning left them stranded.

McPherson reached on a strikeout, wild pitch combination in the Spirits turn, but Hefner grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, clearing the bases. Duran singled to left field, but Nash ended the inning swinging.

The Knights went in order in the top of the sixth and sent their starter back to the mound for one more inning in the bottom of the frame. A called third strike brought the top of the order to the plate for the third time. Finchum and Bottenfield singled in succession, but Sipila grounded into a fielder’s choice, forcing the runner at second base as the second out. Hitzeman took his turn at the cleanup position in the order, for one last epic battle with the Knights starter. “Shogun” saved the best for last, retiring the mighty “Adonis” with a spectacular two strike curve ball. “Shogun” made judicious use of his 80 pitches, allowing nine hits with nine strikeouts and only one walk over six innings of dominant pitching. Most importantly, he did not allow a run.

Marquez singled with two outs in the top of the seventh and last inning, but the Knights were unable to advance “The Big Cat”. Haley Hougen replaced his younger brother on the mound for the final three outs of the ball game.

“The Comet” over-powered Kornhauser and Tipton with his flaming fast ball and quickly recorded two strikeouts in the final inning. McPherson lined a single into center field and Hefner blooped a dying quail into right field. Leggett raced in for a diving attempt at recording the final out, but pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. “Lone Justice” was able to keep the ball in front of him, and Hefner’s single put runners at the corners with two outs. Poole went to first base, as Lawley moved to right field. Hougen reared back and struck out Duran to end the contest, earning the Knights their first ever franchise championship.

I was thirteen days shy of my 55th birthday and have waited 28 seasons for the opportunity to lift the championship trophy over my head. “What a journey. It’s hard for me to put into words what this means to me. This is for my father, and all the sons and fathers who have played and loved this game. After all the blood, sweat, tears and memories we have made, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this victory, surrounded by old friends, who have emptied their tanks on the field of battle, and conquered a valiant foe. All the stars lined up for us tonight. I guess it was our time.

I can’t say enough about my team. Keaton was a thoroughbred out there, and we rode our stud horse to victory. Combine that with the lock down defense we played behind him, and we become very difficult to beat. I’m so proud of this team for their effort and for this accomplishment. Hat’s off to our opponent. They are the best team we have ever played and the best team we have ever defeated. They’re a class organization and it’s always a pleasure to face them on and off the field. We’ll remember this one for the rest of our lives. My father always said son, win or lose, play like a champion. We played like champions today, and I felt his presence. It feels really good to know that my father would be proud.”

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2018 Spirits Haunt Reds in Walk-off Fashion to Capture 45+ Masters Title in North Texas

North Texas Amateur Baseball League, 45+ Masters Division

Dallas Spirits 2, Caddo Reds 1 (eight innings)

‘Leemaster’s Walk-Off Seals Dramatic Championship for Spirits’

Submitted by Shawn Lee, Dallas Spirits

August 27, 2018–Plano, TX…We see games played and even championships that come and go. Every sport, every season provides a new story and a new victor. On a Monday night in August one of those games revealed itself under the lights at Graham Field.

Based on season results one may believe that the Spirits squad held favor in the big game, but history between the two ball clubs tells a different story. The Reds pitcher, Dan Sosa, has seen success against the ‘ghosts’ on a number of occasions. However, Sosa’s opposing pitchers, Brant Finchum and Sean House had slightly better evenings, respectively.

Monday night’s 45+ Masters League Championship was no exception, as Sosa took on Finchum in what proved to be a pitcher’s duel from the get go. Finchum and Sosa both escaped the first inning without damage.

With two outs in the second, Stacy Scott drew a controversial walk for the Reds in what appeared to be a rather tight strike zone, but Finchum didn’t let it bother him. Scott swiped second to give the Reds a runner in scoring position, but Finchum promptly struck out Chris Duty to end the threat. Sosa responded by setting down the Spirits in order on only six pitches.

In the top half of the third, Finchum enticed three ground outs on seven pitches and another shutout inning. The Spirits offense returned in the bottom half of the third, while mustering a few base runners, but once again came up scoreless. With two outs Chris Lewis finally broke Sosa’s spell with a soft line drive for a single and Jack Nash made things interesting by wearing one of Sosa’s pitches on the foot. The rally died quickly, however, as Sosa got Mark Leemaster to ground out, leaving the game scoreless after three.

In the top of the fourth Finchum sent T.K. Hayes back to the dugout on called strikes then Rob Medel reached on a single. Marc Fagon flew out and then Medel stole second to give the Reds an ounce of hope. Finchum got Sosa to fly out to end the Reds half of the inning. Sipila reached on a one-out single in the bottom half of the fourth for the Spirits, but Sosa found the right combination of pitches to stall the Spirits offense.  Scoreless after four.

After getting Baker for the first out in the fifth, the Spirits defense was put on notice after the Reds’ Scott found a gap in left-center field to record a double. With a runner in scoring position and one out, Duty returned to the plate looking to add a big swing to make the game more interesting. What he found was a 12-6 curveball from Finchum for a called strike three. James Roberts grounded out and the pitcher’s duel remained intact.

Koenig returned to the plate for the Spirits in the bottom half of the fifth, belting a line drive over the head of the Reds left fielder to lead off the inning with a double. Lee returned to the plate and squared to bunt, but then appeared to change his mind on the next pitch and delivered a shot to the warning track but right to the Reds left fielder.

“I probably should have laid one down,” commented Lee after he was questioned on his decision. “I really felt it was a great opportunity to move Guy over. We’d have had a runner in a position to tag and in a close game like this, perhaps that’s the difference.”  The offense sputtered a bit after Koenig’s big hit and Sosa was able to get out of the inning once again without damage.

The game moved into the top half of the sixth in this seven inning contest as Sammy Vives battled Finchum and was able to reach safely on a single. Finchum was able to strike out Bobby Michaelides, but Hayes dropped a perfect bunt to sacrifice himself and push Vives to second. With a runner in scoring position and two down, the Spirits brought in Sean House in relief to put a stop to the inning. House appeared to have gotten the job done as Medel slapped a line drive toward right that Nash gave chase to. Nash looked in control, but the ball hit the heal of his glove and Medel reached safely and Vives made his way to third. The Reds’ Fagan became the hero after he singled to score Vives and the Reds had a 1 to 0 lead and the momentum. House got Sosa on a ground out to end the inning, but the momentum appeared to be with the Reds.

“We remained confident going up to bat down a run,” commented Spirits manager Sipila after the game. “We opened the season with a last inning comeback win against the Hurricanes and the very next week we did it against these same Reds. Playing under pressure is nothing new to these guys and I was confident in every one of them that we could still get it done.”

The Spirits offense did make things dramatic moving into the bottom of the sixth with Nash reaching on a one-out error to give the ghosts a base runner. Nash was later retired at second that allowed Leemaster to reach on a fielder’s choice. Finchum followed up with a single to give the Spirits a runner in scoring position, but the opportunity was slammed shut after Sosa made an incredible play to leap at a ground ball delivered from House up the middle, ending the threat.  Reds 1, Spirits 0 after six.

House struck out the first two Reds in the seventh (the final inning) and was able to get Duty to ground out to set them down, 1-2-3.  Next up was the fateful bottom of the seventh, the Spirits final shot.

Sipila led off but grounded out for out number one. Bilgere stepped in with a hot bat but flew out to give the Reds their second out. With one out remaining, Koenig took to the plate and watched a called strike followed by a ball. What happened next burned memories into Spirits heads that will likely last a lifetime. Koenig roped the next pitch to center field while the Reds center fielder Baker appeared to have a solid jump on the ball. As Koenig raced to first for a sure single, Baker lunged toward the ball in an effort to catch it and the ball blew past him and headed for the center field wall. From here, it was quite literally a foot race. As Baker gathered himself and turned, Koenig completed a race of his own making it all the way around for an inconceivable, two-out, bottom of the seventh inning inside-the-park home run to tie the game.

“I was just looking for a pitch to hit the other way since he (Sosa) throws me a lot of off speed pitches. I was hoping to find a gap,” he commented. “After he wasted a fastball, I was looking for a curve ball away and that’s what he threw me.  I saw that the center fielder (Baker) was running up to make a play, but I also realized the ball was tailing hard and away from him. After I saw him diving and missing, I knew I had to get to third. I was stunned to see Earl (German, who was coaching third base) waiving me home. I just kept my head down and kept going. I was exhausted, but I stumbled to the plate and dropped, out of gas.”

Koenig’s unbelievable trip around the bases was good enough to tie the game and at least possibly force extra innings. With the momentum now shifted toward the Spirits, Lee entered the box and was able to produce an infield single.  The Spirits were still in business. The count went 1-1 to McPherson when the Reds catcher mishandled a pitch and Lee was safe at second. McPherson battled Sosa to a full count but was erased on a delayed called third strike to end the inning.  With momentum on their side the Spirits took the field for extra frames.

With momentum on his side, House wasted no time in the top of the eighth with the Reds hitters as he struck out the side. The Spirits returned to bat while celebrating new life. German started things by driving the ball hard down the right field line for a lead-off double. The Reds then intentionally walked Nash to create a force. A few pitches into the battle with Leemaster, German took off for third. With a huge lead and an incredible jump, he stole it easily as the Reds’ Duty made an incredible diving play at third to catch the throw and to save a run. Nash was able to move to second on the play and Sosa went back to work on Leemaster. Leemaster, a former Naval Commander, calmly worked the count to 3-2. Sosa delivered the payoff and the switch-hitting utility player slapped a medium line drive into a drawn infield and outfield good for the walk-off single and the Spirits championship over the Reds, 2 to 1!

“What a great game!” stated (manager) Sipila after his team finished celebrating. “We came full circle tonight. We started the season with come-from-behind wins and tonight was that same feeling. First and foremost, I want to take my hat off to the Caddo Reds. What a great effort from them tonight. Bill Macey and his group of players should be proud of their effort. Sosa was a witch on the bump tonight for 6 and 2/3 innings.”

Sipila continued, “Watching House come in and strike out the side was huge for us in the eighth. Watching Earl hit that double and break the unwritten rule to never take a chance at stealing third with nobody out? That was crazy! The drama made this game a lot of fun. And finally, Leemaster’s hit. I think every player dreams of having that opportunity and it couldn’t have happened to a better guy. He’s such a patient player and hitter. It was an awesome moment to say the least.”

“And we have to give a shout out to Big John (Holmquist),” Spila pointed out. “He didn’t factor in tonight, but a 7-0 record and an ERA just over 2.00 helped pave the way to this opportunity. He had a heck of a season. Lastly, I’d like to thank God and also share a special thank you to all of our loyal fans and our ladies that all support us while we play the game we love. Michelle Sipila, Angie Biggs, Aimee Peketz, Cybil Taylor, Lily Nash and the gang from the Hackney family, we love and appreciate you guys so much. Thank you!

The victory gives Sipila and the Spirits 45+ squad their first title as the team finishes the season with a record of 20-1, with the only blemish being to this very same Reds team.

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2018 Banana Sharks Sweep A’s for John A. DeBenedictis 55+ Anderson Division Title

John A. DeBenedictis Baseball League, 55+ Anderson Division 

Banana Sharks 8, Hatboro A’s 7

‘Creedon Shines on Bump in Sweep of A’s’

Submitted by Pat Fynes, League President

Semi-Finals…After losing just one game during the regular season and bringing a 10 game winning streak into the playoffs, the Banana Sharks found themselves down 1-0 in the semi-final round against the Kennett Cutters, losing the opener 5-2. But the Banana Sharks, led by manager Daryl Fein, showed why they had a great regular season record by winning both games two and three by scores of 14-0 to advance to the championship round.

Championship Round Game One Versus Hatboro A’s…The Banana Sharks scored four runs in the third and nine in the fourth to cruise to a 13-6 victory over the A’s in game one. The Sharks took advantage of A’s errors and pounded out 12 hits. Tony D’Aulerio, Ray Schmoltze and Bob Rutter had two hits each. Bobby Creedon went the distance for the win.

Championship Round Game Two…The Banana Sharks held off an A’s rally in the last inning and brought home their third championship in the JADBL.

With the Sharks leading 8-4 after six, the A’s rallied to pull within one in the ninth inning and loaded the bases with one out. The A’s were a hit away from a tie or a win. In came Bobby Creedon for the Sharks, who had already won three playoff games. Bob relieved Jim Toth, who had replaced Frank Rose. Catcher Hector Torres caught a foul pop behind the plate, crashing into the fence for the second out. The A’s Dave Viviani then hit a line drive shot between third and short, but Jeff Vitale laid out to make a great catch and end the game. The Sharks sweep the A’s with an 8-7 victory.

Frank Rose went 6 1/3 innings for the win, while Bobby Creedon earned the save. The Banana Sharks had 14 hits, led by Creedon and Daryl Fein, who had three hits apiece.

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2018 Rochester Mets Post Successful Season in Rochester MSBL

Rochester MSBL

 ‘Combination of Veterans and Youngsters Paint Bright Future’

 Submitted by James Germano, Mets manager

The Rochester MSBL Mets got off to a slow start, but improved during the season to end up 9-9-1. We won the playoff semi-finals by beating the Royals 6-5 in a very well-played game. However, in the finals we came up a little short against the rival A’s, 9-5.

Our team was a combination of seasoned vets, including Ralph Koons, Dave Prong and Al Emerson, plus our core group of Sandor Bors, Rich Kolmetz, Mark Faulkner, Bob Shaffer, Joe Germano, Erick Mundorff and Vern Van Skiver.

Our youth movement of Tom Street, Julian Cotto and Eric Maldonado really complemented our vets and core players, plus they made the season a fun experience. We’re looking forward to being in the thick of the race once again in 2019!

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2018 Hudson Valley MSBL Year End Report, Division Champions Crowned

Submitted by Rick Stockfield, Hudson Valley League President

‘Hudson Valley Exceeds $16,000 in Charitable Contributions in 2018’

Congratulations go out to the Wappingers Brewers (Coach Alex Peluso) who defeated the Expedient Mets in the midweek 18+ Championship.  MVP was Matt Lynch (Brewers) and Cy Young winner was Rich Cavazza (Phillies).

The 18+ Sunday Division Champion were The New York Mariners (David Prince) winning their third consecutive HVMSBL title defeating the Kent Cubs for the second time in three years.  The M’s finished the season an impressive 22-1 with their only blemish by Cy Young Award Winner Nick DiNapoli (Cubs) who was 12-1 with a 2.00 ERA.  Co-MVP’s were Steve Aurigemma and Clint Boettcher (both Mariners).

The 35+National Division found another three-peat Champion Bridge City Athletics (Sven Jenkins) defeating the 6-seeded Kent Pirates in the winner’s bracket finals on a walk off by Dan Slate in the bottom of the 10th inning propelling the A’s to their back-to-back-to-back championship.

In the American 35+, the Hudson Valley Rays (Greg Locke) took home their first American Division Championship.  MVP was Nick DeMarco (A’s, .659AVG) and Cy Young also from the A’s was Jim Petrosino (8-0, 2.20ERA)

The 45+ Division Championship went to the New York Isotopes (Lee Carilli) defeating the Hopewell Tigers in a great championship game 11-8.  MVP was Isotopes’ Mark Milroy, while Cy Young was the Tigers’ skipper Phil Geary (7-0, 2.77 ERA).

Other award winners were Managers of the Year Sven Jenkins and Drew Kessler (Pirates), Sportsman of the Year Ricky Garcia, Community Award Winner David Prince, and comeback player of the Year Rick Zolzer (Renegades).

The League also continued its community service while giving back to four charities and nine youth baseball leagues and other charities, including LS Warriors, in the amounts totaling more than $16,000 through the ‘3 Up 3 Down’ Organization, Inc.

Congratulations go out to HVMSBL Hall of Fame inductees Matt Veronesi and Roland Norris (Wappingers Yankees) and to Dutchess County Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Matt Veronesi, Mike Veronesi, Rick Stockfield, Roberto Valdes, Ed Lamondo and Al Hammell.

2018 was a stellar year for the league growing to 32 teams and a record number of players.  Four All-Star Games hosting more than 1,000 fans total, a Future’s Game, our annual home run derby (Matt Peters, Cubs Champion), a second derby free to all players at Dutchess Stadium and the HVMSBL picnic highlighted the year! 2019 will the HVMSBL’s 30-year Anniversary with its focus being more on community (including an Exceptional Senior’s Game for High School Seniors), more funds donated to little leagues, all the while increasing the quality of the league rather than any type of quantity.

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2018 ThunderCanes Win ‘Chilly’ 45+ Fall Title in North Texas Amateur Baseball League

North Texas Amateur Baseball League, 45+ Fall Pecos Division

ThunderCanes 10, Caddo Reds 9

 ‘Canes Get Hot and Stay Warm in Title Game’ 

Submitted by Kirk Pruitt, ThunderCanes manager

North Texas recorded a record (you can look it up!) twenty-nine inches of rain in September and October, pushing the North Texas Amateur Baseball League Fall Ball Season well into November.  Generally speaking, Texans do not like cold weather, and especially don’t like playing baseball in cold weather, however there were Champions to crown in the rain-abbreviated season.  With playoff and championship games played in temps hovering just above freezing, uniform requirements took a back seat to protecting oneself from hypothermia.

Friendly rivals Caddo Reds and ThunderCanes took the field with a game time temp of 35 degrees.  The Reds took a 1-0 lead until a wild and woolly fourth inning, where both teams combined to send 23 batters to the plate, scoring a combined 15 runs.  The ‘Canes won the inning, plating nine.  Most of the damage was done on RBI hits by Nate Larmon (2B), Chris McCann (3B), and Michael Madsen’s bases loaded single.  All had multi-RBIs in the inning that saw every ThnderCane hitter reach base safely.

The Reds countered in the bottom half of the frame, scoring six of their own, taking advantage of two walks and two errors.  ‘Canes starting pitcher Eric Reifschneider was relieved by Bob Delahunt to begin the fifth with the score 10-7.  The Reds pushed across two runs with two outs before Delahunt coaxed a ground out to close the frame.

Going into the final inning the ‘Canes missed a golden opportunity to get some insurance, but left the bases loaded.  Delahunt returned to the hill for the home half of the inning and promptly shut the door, sealing the win for the ThunderCanes and starting the mass exodus from the field to Buffalo Wild Wings to get warm.