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2018 18+ Wood

Atlanta Reds 10, Tampa Thunder 4

‘Thames and Pirkle Share MVP Honors’

By Elliot Brownstein, special to MSBL

November 11, 2018…On another beautiful day in South Florida, the Men’s Senior Baseball League continued the Fall Classic Sunday afternoon. The matchup of the day featured the Atlanta Reds and the Tampa Thunder.

The Thunder started the game at the plate as the away team due to seeding. Reds pitcher James Sexton took the mound to face Jason Serrano leading off the game, who was able to reach on base thanks to an error by third baseman Sabastian Diaz. Next up was Derek Martin who hit a single to right field in which Diaz utilized his speed to score in the game’s first run and the only one for the Thunder at the moment. The Reds responded with three runs themselves to take the lead in the first inning. Julius Thames, Richard Pirkle and Josh Black all produced a hit and a run that inning.

In the second inning Sexton once again allowed a lead-off base runner, as Connor Rafferty hit a slingshot into left field for a single, with Chris Gormley eventually hitting a single to right for the RBI. Thunder pitcher Dayan Rodriquez showed up in the second inning as well throwing two strikeouts in a quick 1-2-3 inning.

Continuing their hot bats, the Thunder scored another two runs in the third. Serrano was hit by a pitch; Vic Pagan had a single with Willi Martin ripping a bases-clearing double down the left field as the Thunder took the lead once again. But the Reds weren’t going to let the game slip away from them as they too had a huge thrid inning. Once again starting from the top of the lineup they tallied two straight hits and a sac-fly by Pirkle. Following the sac-fly, Josh Black hit a single knocking in Joe Wilson. Stratel Smith kept the inning alive for the Reds as he beat out the throw to first for an infield single with Rocco Callaway scoring him in the next at bat.

Though having a much shorter traveling distance than the Reds, the Thunder mentioned before the game they were a bit fatigued. It certainly showed as pitcher James Sexton cruised for the next couple of innings. Sexton, after the third inning, allowed only three hits and never saw more than four batters per inning. The Reds continued to increase their lead easing pressure off of Sexton which is what might’ve caused such a stout performance.

The Fall Classic 18+ Championship ended on a strikeout to Drew Avery by Sexton. His final numbers were nine innings, four runs, six hits, and six strikeouts. The Reds first seven batters recorded at least two hits apiece with the eight and nine spots chipping in a hit each. Josh Black recorded three hits on five at-bats with three RBI.

Reds manager Don Pike said after the game that he was proud of his team and couldn’t thank everyone enough for sacrificing their time for the Fall Classic Championship. Not being able to decide on one MVP, Pike chose Richard Pirkle (2-5, 1R, 1 RBI) and Julius Thames (3-5, 2R) based on their overall tournament performance.

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2018 55+ Wood

Puerto Rico Athleticos 9, Albany Cubs 2

‘Ironman Perez Seals the Win from the Bump’

By Elliot Brownstein, special to MSBL

November 10, 2018…Saturday afternoon at FitTeam Park the Men’s Senior Baseball Fall Classic Championship was under way for the 55+ Division. The two teams scheduled were the Albany Cubs and the Puerto Rico Athleticos for a 9-inning bout.

First to bat were the Athleticos (due to seeding giving the Cubs home field advantage) and not much came from them as they had a 5-pitch 1-2-3 inning. Bob Bolt led-off with a single for the Cubs in the bottom of the first but was quickly displaced as Mike Gerard grounded into a fielder’s choice. The Athleticos shut them down, as the game went scoreless for the first three innings with neither team getting past first base.

In the fourth inning the Athletico’s played much like the weather in the sky, with thunder. Shortstop Angel Olmo started the inning off with a single and was followed by Feliz Andino’s strikeout that got past the catcher, advancing Olmo to third and Andino to first.  Ronald Berrios followed up with a bloop to center scoring Olmo.  The Athletico’s took advantage of the tired Cubs starter Ron Massaroni, who was replaced by Darrell Duncan.  However, Duncan gave up another two runs before finally closing out the fourth after the Athletico’s batted around. Massaroni finished with three innings pitched, five earned runs, one strikeout and seven hits.

Rain started to casually come down in the fifth but with no major impact of the game. Though after that big inning by the Athletico’s the game had slowed down. An additional run came in for the Athleticos in the fifth, as Jose Delgade scored after being knocked in by Jose Castrillo’s base hit to center field.

Athletico’s pitcher Virgilio Perez kept the game out of reach for the Cubs as he pitched a shutout through 7 1/3 innings, only allowing six hits within the time frame. Dan MacGuire’s hit to center field in the seventh allowed the Cubs to finally get on the board, knocking in Jerry Rosen. The Athletico’s responded in the top of the eighth with a run of their own, as Josue Ortiz scored on third baseman Ron Lochner’s error.

In the ninth Perez allowed one more run for the Cubs before putting it away himself, as Lochner grounded the ball back to Perez, who ran it to first himself to close the game out with a final score of 9-2.

Perez got the complete game victory, allowing only two runs, 11 hits and five strikeouts. Manager Orlando Garcia, upset he had to choose only one MVP, ultimately decided on Perez who had pitched a full game the previous day as well.

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2018 30+ Wood

Long Island Sun Devils 4, Cleveland Steve’s Sports 2 ‘Schippell Outduels Hillier for Big Win’

By Chris Errington, special to MSBL

November 11, 2018, Jupiter, FLMike Schippell’s once numerous starts have become less and less frequent over the years. That’s why he makes the most of them. Schippell, who turns 50 years old this year, was masterful in tossing a four-hitter as the Long Island Sun Devils captured the 30+ Wood Bat championship with a 4-2 victory over defending champion Cleveland Steve’s Sports. “I don’t throw as hard as I used to, so I don’t try,” Schippell said. “My game is off-speed. Years ago I was a big strike out guy. Today, I just didn’t want to put anything down the middle.” The veteran hurler, who stated that he only pitches two games per year – once in his home league playoffs and once in the Fall Classic tournament, allowed single runs in the first and fifth innings. Otherwise, he was nearly unhittable.

Across the second, third, fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings, the righty allowed one base runner – courtesy of catcher’s interference. While only striking out three, Schippell consistently kept Cleveland Steve’s Sports hitters off balance with breaking balls and pitched to soft contact that was turned into key outs.

“He threw a lot of first-pitch strikes,” Cleveland Steve’s Sports manager John Ramsey said of Schippell. “A lot of first-pitch [curve balls] and we didn’t want to swing at them. We adjusted as the game wore on, but he was really tough today.”

Only once after the Sun Devils captured the lead did Schippell get into trouble, courtesy of an eighth-inning, two-out triple to right from Rob Jackman. But, with the potential tying run at the plate, the righty wasn’t about to let the lead slip away just four outs from victory. He induced a ground out to second to end the threat, then ended the game by getting a shoe-string catch in left by Rob Figueroa to seal the victory. “All I kept thinking [in the eighth inning] was, no wild pitches,” Schippell said. “Make them hit my pitch.”

Nearly matching Schippell pitch for pitch was Cleveland’s Bobby Hillier. The righty held Long Island to five hits, but was done in by three errors and one big swing.

Cleveland led 1-0 after a walk and hit batsman set the stage for Keith McLeod’s two-out RBI single to right that plated Chuck Mechling. Hillier nursed the lead into the third before Cleveland’s defense and some timely Long Island hitting broke the game open. An error, a Rich Burgos infield single and catcher’s interference loaded the bases with one out. Hillier then induced a pop-out to set the stage for the biggest at-bat of the game. Ian Allen laced a line drive to left and when the ball was misplayed it rolled all the way to the wall for a three-run triple. Matt Gunning’s bloop double to center plated a fourth run and gave Long Island all the offense it would need.

“It was tough for us to score runs all tournament and I thought we might get stymied again, but we were fortunate to have the right guy at the plate at the right time,” Long Island manager Todd Lefkowitz said. Added Ramsey, “That’s the story of the tournament. We gifted more runs than ever before. It was a sloppy week, but we were able to overcome it because of our bats. But today, we couldn’t square anything up all game.”

While Hillier struck out three and walked just one in suffering the tough-luck loss, Cleveland made several attempts to climb back into the game following the disastrous third inning. Bobby Mullen ended a string of 11 consecutive batters retired by Schippell when he laced a one-out double down the third-base line in the fifth. John Ramsey followed with a single to center that trimmed the deficit to 4-2 and moved to second on a ground out. But, when Schippell got a pop-up for the third out, the inning was over and so was another scoring threat.

Schippell would go on to retire 15 of the final 17 batters faced, including the key groundout to end the eighth. His pitching prowess was indicative of a team that allowed a mere 19 runs the entire tournament. “Mike’s the longest-standing member of our team and he’s our go-to guy,” Lefkowitz said. “There was no doubt he was getting the ball, because he challenges them and makes them hit the ball. “That’s nothing but heart and will.”

Long Island culminated a stellar week by finishing round-robin play 3-1, with its only loss an 8-2 setback to this same Cleveland team. The Sun Devils earned a berth in the championship game by topping the Coral Gables Athletics 5-2. Meanwhile, Cleveland, which captured the 30+ National Holiday Classic championship and also suffered only one loss during round-robin play, reached its second consecutive Fall Classic title game by downing the Atlanta Dragons 8-3 in the semifinals.

Cleveland                 1 0 0   0 1 0   0 0 0 – 2 4 3

Long Island              0 0 4   0 0 0   0 0 x – 4 5 1

WP: Schippell. LP: Hillier. 2B: Mullen (C). 3B: Jackman (C). Allen (LI). Pitching: Hillier and Ramsey (C). Schippell and Allen (LI).

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2018 45+ Central

Susquehanna Valley Hitzmen 5, Connecticut Top Hats 3

‘Hiers and Lockhart Team Up for First Title’

By Chris Errington, special to MSBL

November 10, 2018, Jupiter, FL – Six months of training, six months of competing, six months of bonding came down to one critical pitch in the 2018 Fall Classic 45 Central Championship game. Clinging to a two-run, eighth-inning lead, Susquehanna Valley pitcher Joe Lockhart found himself in a precarious situation. In his second inning of work, he’d loaded the bases in relief of starter Scott Hiers and was now facing Connecticut Top Hats star hitter Manny Reasor. Lockhart never flinched. The big righty, already with a pair of tournament victories to his credit, got Reasor to hit a comebacker that ended the inning and, even with an inning to play, definitively stamped the Hitzmen’s name to their first title with a 5-3 decision.

“It came down to Joe making that perfect pitch and making the play,” Susquehanna Valley manager Joe Helsel said. “With that, we were out of [the inning]. That was the biggest play of the tournament for us. “What more could you ask for?”

Winning their first championship was far more than Helsel and the Hitzmen ever expected, so it wasn’t surprising when the manager said the full impact of the accomplishment hadn’t yet been realized. He said the team’s objective was to simply “get to Saturday,” thereby earning an opportunity to reach the tournament’s semifinal round. Susquehanna Valley did itself one better by completing round-robin play with an unblemished 5-0 record and defeating the Bux-Mont Cubs, 6-4 in the playoffs. Once there, the Hitzmen made sure an early deficit wouldn’t keep them from the title.

Connecticut, which lost the 2016 championship game on a seldom seen walk-off balk, grabbed a 1-0 second-inning lead when Reasor reached via error, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Bob Manowitz’s clutch two-out single to left.  It took just the bottom half of the inning for the Hitzmen to answer.

Paul Robinson and Greg Garner led off with singles to put runners on first and third. Robinson scored on the back end of a well-executed double steal and Garner later took third on a ground out. Then, with a large lead, Garner drew a wild throw from home that sailed into left field, allowing him to score easily and take the lead. Back-to-back leadoff singles in the bottom of the third from Charles Dean and Barry Williams helped push the lead to 3-1 when Helsel lifted a sacrifice fly to left.

Meanwhile, Hiers kept Connecticut hitters off balance throughout. He earned the victory by tossing six innings of seven-hit, two-run ball before giving way to Lockhart. Hiers’ effort was the last in a week full of outstanding pitching.

“This was definitely a team effort and we got quality starts all week,” Helsel said. “This was a real mash-up of a team, but the guys came through. We threw well and hit well. Everything kind of fell together for us.”

The Top Hats, who completed round robin play 4-1 before outscoring the New York Isotopes 14-11 in the playoffs, ran themselves out of a chance to tie the game in the fifth when Billy Bardes, who’d singled home Manowitz earlier in the inning, was thrown out at the plate on their own attempt at a double steal.

Manowitz couldn’t be faulted for his team’s aggressive style no matter the consequences considering it was a long shot to still be playing on Saturday. Connecticut’s top two pitchers failed to travel to the tournament due to personal reasons.  “I’m very proud of the guys, because they never laid down and never gave in,” the manager said. “Sure this hurts a little, but we beat our expectations. We’re just a bunch of good guys that are more hard workers than talented players.”

While Connecticut starter Rich Burns more than held his own throughout, the Hitzmen finally pushed across the two runs that gave them some much-needed breathing room in the seventh. Unfortunately for the Top Hats, they provided plenty of support. Chris Dixon walked and Todd McCormick’s sacrifice bunt turned into first and third when the ball was misplayed for an error. After McCormick stole second one out later, a grounder to third resulted in everyone being safe when a rundown failed to produce an out. The fielding mistake proved disastrous when both Lockhart, who hit .500 for the tournament, and Helsel hit run-scoring singles.  “We threw the ball around a little and made some physical errors, but for a team that didn’t know if it had a pitcher available before the game, we’re happy with our performance,” Manowitz said.

Connecticut                         0 1 0   0 1 0   0 1 0 – 3 8 2

Susquehanna Valley         0 2 1   0 0 0   2 0 x – 5 9 2

WP: Hiers (2-0). LP: Burns. Pitching: Burns and Lambros (C). Hiers, Lockhart (7) and Hopwood (S).

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2018 45+ American

Carolina Pirates 6, Atlanta Braves 3

‘Flach Throws Complete Game, Earns Third Victory’

By Chris Errington, special to MSBL

November 10, 2018, Jupiter, FL – Trailing 3-0 early and with an Atlanta Braves lineup that’s all-too familiar with his pitching style, Jason Flach had to change tactics in a hurry. Thanks to a defense as tight as the one behind him, it was a no-brainer.

Flach tossed his second complete game and earned his third victory of the tournament, while defensive stalwarts Pat Moretti (SS) and Luke Roberts (2B) shared MVP honors, as the Carolina Pirates captured a second consecutive 45+ American Fall Classic championship over the Atlanta Braves, 6-3.

Atlanta “know(s) what my breaking stuff does, so I decided to go with more fast balls and two-seamers to get them to put the bat on the ball and use my defense,” Flach said. “It always depends on how I feel and what they are swinging at, but today that was the right decision.” In the end, Flach, coming off a long relief appearance that closed out a 10-3 semifinal victory over the Rhode Island Salty Dogs, allowed nine hits and, more importantly, no runs over the final six innings. “He’s a rock star,” Carolina manager Don Pustulka said of Flach. “The man steps up in big games. He’s an all-world pitcher for us.”

Still, having played Atlanta multiple times during the past 12 months, the task was once again not easy for Flach and the Pirates. Carolina topped Atlanta 3-1 in the 2017 Fall Classic championship game in Clearwater, FL, before losing the 2018 Memorial Day Tournament title game 6-5 to this same Braves team.

Trailing 3-0 in the fourth, Carolina, which finished round robin play 4-1 thanks to a pair of walk-off victories, needed one more come-from-behind win to capture the championship. The Pirates combined an infield single, error and walk to load the bases with two outs. Chris Wilder’s single to left drove in a pair of runs, before John Kelly tied the game with a single to center. An inning later, Carolina provided Flach a lead he wasn’t about to relinquish.

Todd Warren opened the inning with a single to center, and when he beat Atlanta starter Chris Evers’ throw to second following Kirt Bennett’s sacrifice bunt, the Pirates had two on and none out. That’s when one of the game’s most pivotal plays occurred.

Stephan Mathany’s sacrifice bunt was fielded cleanly by Atlanta first baseman Tom Nohstadt, but when applying the tag on the batter, the ball was jarred loose allowing Warren to score the eventual game-winning run. An RBI fielder’s choice two batters later pushed the lead 5-3. When Micky Munn doubled to left and scored on an infield single and throwing error one inning later, the advantage swelled to three and all that was left was for Flach to finish the job. “My arm was a little sore today, but once we tied it up, I relaxed and knew we had a chance,” Flach said. “When you’re playing a team as good as [Atlanta], it’s going to be the team that makes the fewest mistakes that wins. Today, we were that team.”

The Braves committed four errors on the day. Carolina, which entered having committed only four errors for the tournament, did commit two in the championship game. Still, it was timely defense and key pitches that first kept Atlanta from adding to its early lead, then prevented it from making a comeback.

Leading 3-0 in the fourth and with the lefty Evers facing the minimum to that point, the Braves threatened to blow the game open. A pair of one-out singles placed Atlanta runners on first and second, but, as he would again twice more, Flach made key pitches to emerge unscathed. Getting a pair of ground outs, the righty kept the deficit at three and set the stage for the Pirates’ six-run outburst over the next three innings. Atlanta put a pair of runners aboard with none out in the sixth and two outs in the eighth, but both times failed to score.

In the sixth, the righty stranded Nohstadt and John DeMarco on base by getting a pair of strikeouts and pop-out to end the inning. In the eighth, a ground out to second kept an infield error and walk from causing damage.

“We knew we had to get through the first few innings and then we’d be fine,” Pustulka said, “We thought about getting someone up [in the bullpen] in the fourth, but once [Flach] got through that that, we didn’t need to get anyone up the rest of the way. Added Flach, “This [championship] is great, but last year’s was more special, because it was the first time for most of the guys. Now the question is, what do we do next year?”

Atlanta, which finished round-robin play 3-2 and reached the title game by defeating the Criollos de Venezuela (4-0) and New York Astros (6-1) in the playoffs, grabbed a 3-0 third-inning lead thanks to an uncharacteristic error to lead off the game and a trio of timely hits. The early lead was an achievement in itself considering Carolina had allowed only 13 total runs in its first five games.

Roman Marcano’s grounder was misplayed for only the fifth Carolina error of the tournament and, after being sacrificed to second, sped all the way home on a wild pitch. Two innings later, Marcano laced a two-out double down the third base line and scored on Jeff Burns’ single up the middle. When Jack Myers’ bloop to left fell in, Burns pushed the lead to 3-0.

Atlanta           1 0 2   0 0 0   0 0 0 – 3 9 4

Carolina        0 0 0   3 2 1   0 0 x – 6 10 2

WP: Flach (2-0). LP: Evers. 2B: Marcano (A). Munn (C). Pitching: Evers and Caldwell (A). Flach and Robinson (C).

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2015 35+ American

2015 35+ American

Raleigh Red Sox 6, Atlanta Rangers 0

‘Gonzalez Throws Shutout to Seal Victory’

By Chris Errington, special to MSBL

November 7, 2015, Clearwater, FL – Defending champions seldom relinquish titles easily. With Johnny Gonzalez on the mound, they often don’t have a choice. A day after allowing just a pair of runs in a semifinal victory, Gonzalez was in a familiar position – pitching the Raleigh Red Sox to a Fall Classic championship.

Gonzalez was dominant throughout, allowing only four hits to earn his second title game victory in three years.  “Being [in a championship game] before definitely helped,” Gonzalez said. “I just wanted to get ahead and keep [Atlanta] off balance. With our defense playing as well as it does, I knew I just had to throw strikes.  I got a little tired in the ninth, but I’ve still got three or four more innings in me if we needed it.”

Gonzalez, a 6-foot-5, 170-pound (on a good day to his own admission) right-hander, joined battery mate Paul Regan to complete a dominating and nearly unthinkable two-day effort. After Raleigh finished round-robin play with a record of 2-3 following a pair of one-run losses – including a 3-2 setback against Atlanta – Regan, with Gonzalez catching, pitched 8.2 hitless innings in a 7-0 playoff victory over Venezuela, before settling for a one-hitter. Later that day, Gonzalez, with Regan catching, was brilliant in a complete game, 10-2 semifinal victory over Puerto Rico.

Not surprisingly, the duo was back at it again in the final, proving the worth of manager Mike Wilson’s trust.  “I had no reservations about starting [Gonzalez] again, because I’ve seen him do this before,” Wilson said. “When he goes out, we know how he’s going to be early. If he’s on, we just let him go.”  The title was the third for Wilson, but first in the American division, a fact he said helps separate the victory from the previous two.  “They’re all important and they’re all a bit different,” Wilson said. “To win one in a higher level of competition makes it more of an accomplishment for us.”

While leadoff man Robert Rudder led all players with three hits, it was the bottom of the order that got Raleigh the only run it would need.  With two outs and the bases empty in the second, Chris Budnick laced a double down the third base line. One batter later, Adrian Matlock singled to center, giving the Red Sox a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.  The lead stretched to 2-0 in the third, when Rudder singled to right, stole second, advanced to third on a Korre Humes single and scored on a fielder’s choice.

Meanwhile, Gonzalez was nearly unhittable. Including a six-pitch first, the lanky righty didn’t allow a base runner until Cesar Ostos’ one-out single to left in the fourth. Ostos was stranded at first and Atlanta failed to get a runner to second base until Ivan Reid’s two-out double in the eighth. Over that span, Gonzalez retired 12 of 13 batters, facing the minimum when Reid, who had Atlanta’s second hit, was promptly thrown out trying to steal second in the fifth.  Gonzalez’s performance, which clinched MVP honors following a 3-1 week, came against an Atlanta team that finished round-robin play 3-1-1 and, according to manager Tommy Linda, “had hit the ball well.”

“We just ran into a guy who didn’t make any mistakes all game,” Linda said. “The way we hit [in a 4-2 semifinal victory over New Era], I thought we’d hit a lot better. We’ve got a heavy lefty line-up, so I was glad when we had a righty on the mound. We just couldn’t string any hits together and that’s a credit to [Gonzalez].”

With a 2-0 lead seemingly safe, Raleigh put the game away late.  Budnick drove in Jeromy Bullman with a bloop single to right, before pinch runner Damian McFadden scored on the Red Sox’s fourth hit of the inning, a single to left by James Harris. When Raleigh tacked on single runs in the eighth and ninth, the final coming when Humes’ booming double to right center plated Rudder, all that was left was for Gonzalez to escape his only jam of the game.  Atlanta threatened with runners on second and third and one out, before the righty induced a shallow fly out and ground out to end the threat and claim the championship.

 

Raleigh                        0 1 1    0 0 0    2 1 1 – 6 14 0

Atlanta                         0 0 0    0 0 0    0 0 0 – 0  4  3

WP: Gonzalez (3-1); LP: Gil. Pitching: Gonzalez and Regan (R). Gil, Anderson (7), Mendez (7), Steinmetz (9) and George (A). 2B: Budnick, Humes (R) Steinmetz (A).

 

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2016 45+ Central

2016 45+ Central

Southside Warriors 5, Connecticut Top Hats 4

‘Warriors Score Two in Eighth to Complete Comeback’

By Steve Potter, special to MSBL National

November 5, 2016 – Carpenter Complex, Clearwater, Florida The Southside Warriors used a couple of untimely Top Hat fielding errors and a balk call in the bottom of the eighth inning to score two runs and seal a 5-4 come from behind victory. Mike Capolla and Joe Ferrara reached on consecutive errors by the Top Hats third baseman to lead off the inning.  Southside manager Jerome Stabile laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance them both into scoring position.  Frank Bungevino ripped a long sacrifice fly ball to right field to tie the game. Top Hats pitcher Rich Lee was then called for a balk on the next pitch that scored Ferrara with what turned out to be the game winning run.

The Warriors scored first in the contest plating a run in the bottom of the first inning on a Joe Demiri sacrifice fly that scored shortstop Matt Kinsella who had reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second on an error and then stole third base.

Connecticut scored all four of their runs in the top of the second inning keyed by RBI singles from Rich Burns and Steve Simone along with an RBI fielder’s choice from Manager Bob Manowitz.  That lead held till the fourth inning when the Warriors chased Top Hats starting pitcher Eric Brady with two runs.  Brady went 3 2/3 innings before yielding to lefty Rich Lee who held the Warriors scoreless till the bottom of the eighth.

Manager Jerome Stabile started on the hill for the Warriors and pitched one batter into the third inning before giving way to left hander Frank Bungevino.  Bungevino pitched seven scoreless frames to earn the mound victory for Southside.

Southside had only four hits in the game but used three sacrifices, five walks, a hit batter and four Top Hats errors to score their five runs.  Connecticut had nine hits in the game, three by shortstop Wally Hurd ( two singles and a double) while leadoff hitter Bill Bardes reached base three times via walks.

Skipper Stabile praised Bungevino by saying, “Hard fought battle today. Frankie came in after I struggled.  He threw 16 scoreless innings this week including the seven today for us and was outstanding.”  The team wore camouflage jerseys during the week. Stabile explained that he works at Southside Hospital in New York and that they have a Wounded Warriors Project.  The hospital sponsored the jerseys in their honor which is really cool.

Top Hats manager Manowitz was gracious in defeat stating, “It was a tremendous tournament, my team showed a lot of heart coming from behind in both the quarter and semi finals. The baseball gods just didn’t shine on us in the eighth inning.  Two errors and a balk and to lose on a balk call was tough. I have been playing with Rich for a long time and I can’t ever remember him getting called for a balk.”   He said he was very proud of his team. They have won two championships in the tournament in previous years. This is their first loss in a championship game.  Manowitz said they would be back next year to battle for another title.

Southside’s Craig Smith was named the tournament MVP.  I spoke to his mom in the stands before the game and she gave me prophetic words stating that he was the best player on the field.  Mothers always know best!

Pool Play :

Southside went 4-1 earning the number one seed from Division Two.  They outscored their opponents 43 to 23 during the week.  Connecticut also went 4-1 and qualified as the number two seed from Division One.  They outscored their opponents by a count of 53 to 21 during the five games.

Playoffs :

Southside defeated the South Atlantic Twins 9-7 in the quarter final round and the Atlanta Giants 14 -2 in the semi finals.  Connecticut topped the Susquehanna Valley Hitzmen 11-10 in the quarter finals and the Del Val Bombers 12-9 in the semi finals.

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2016 50+ American

2016 50+ American

New Jersey Reds 4, Long Island 1

 

‘MVP Boeckenstedt Stops Long Island on Compete Game’

By Andy Villamarzo, special to MSBL National

November 12, 2016, Clearwater, FL – Winning championships is no strange feeling for New Jersey Reds manager Andy Vazquez. So much so that the longtime MSBL manager has done it more than once. They have made the trip seven previous times and have come away with four rings.  Saturday afternoon they added another feather to the cap, as the Reds used a big first inning to propel them to a 4-1 pitcher’s duel win over Long Island at the Carpenter Complex.

Vasquez coached his team to another successful season in the weather-friendly confines of Florida and returns to New Jersey with more hardware to add to his already impressive collection of national championships.

“Brad (Boeckenstedt) not only threw nine innings in this game, but he also threw 4.2 innings in the previous game. He was a battler today,” Vasquez said. “The team never quits. We have a very solid lineup from top to bottom, but when you play all week it starts to wear on the guys. (Long Island) played very well against us and they had an opportunity. Luckily we came away and became the winners.”

New Jersey got most of the runs they needed in the first inning, when they tagged three runs off of Long Island starting pitcher Rich Gosecki. From there, however, the Reds offense couldn’t kick itself into a higher gear and remained stagnant at the plate. The only other run New Jersey would end up mustering together was when Joe Rousso singled home Phil Forman and gave the Reds a commanding 4-0 advantage.

Pitching dominated the day between the neighboring state clubs, as Gosecki and Boeckenstedt, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, both nearly went the distance in what both manager’s described as nothing other than a pitcher’s duel.

“(New Jersey) pitcher threw a good game,” Long Island manager Joe D’Andria said. “My pitcher just made a couple early mistakes. We misplayed a ball in the outfield and we just struggled to comeback from that. Both teams, basically after that initial first inning, had a tough time scoring runs. Both pitchers were on. Both teams were playing good defense. That’s the way this game is. You can’t make early mistakes and give extra outs because it’ll come back to haunt you. Total pitching duel.”

In the top of the ninth for Long Island, D’Andria had the meat of his lineup coming up to the plate and the results started to show not too long afterwards. Long Island was able to load up the bases against Boeckenstedt and the team’s No. 4 hitter, Bill Steele came up to the plate. On the very first pitch, Steele hit a deep fly ball to left field and that would become the third out and end the game, giving the Reds the 50-and-over national championship.

“I had all the right guys coming up,” D’Andria added. “Billy Steele hit the ball to the warning track, so I certainly had the right guy in at the right spot.”

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2017 35+ National

Atlanta Bulls 3, East Coast Cardinals 1

‘Cumberland Goes Distance with Five Hitter’

By Andy Villamarzo, special to MSBL

November 18, 2017, Clearwater, FL – The Atlanta Bulls have been itching to get back to the 35+ National championship game down in Florida and they got their chance against a familiar foe in the East Coast Cardinals. Something Bulls coach Jeff Boyar says the team has been heavily reliant on is the club’s pitching and defense, which both were on display in the title game. The Bulls got a stellar pitching performance from Chris Cumberland, who went nine innings and only allowed five hits and struck out eight batters in Atlanta’s 3-1 win over East Coast.

“Our team has always been built around pitching and defense,” Boyar said. “They came pretty strong. They have a pretty good game. Over the years we’ve gone back and forth against (East Coast Cardinals). This is the third time we’ve beaten them in the championship game. We have a real nice rivalry. There’s a good camaraderie between our clubs. Going in from year to year, we have the two teams that are highly rated. I don’t want to take anything away from the other teams, but we have the two teams that looked like they’ve been there before.”

The road to the championship game for the Bulls was not easy by no means, as Atlanta had to play some of the top teams like the Long Island Sun Devils along the way. Kivian Taylor was named the Most Valuable Player for the whole 35+ National tournament and he hit just below .600 for the Bulls. Johnny Hayes was one of the two catchers who hit for over .600 in the tournament. Chris Yates, who plays center field, also closed out two games and made two saves.

“We played seven games, with five in the round robin,” Boyar said. “Only four complete games in the entire series. In the semis, Jason Jarvis threw a three hit gem, struck out seven and walked only one. We beat the Long Island Sun Devils, which they were the only team we lost to in the five game round robin. In the two innings that Yates didn’t play center field, he really helped out in relief.”

Amongst others that played well was outfielders Dytarious Edwards and Shawn Crockett. Both played in the outfield banged up, as Edwards had a bulky knee and had Crockett pulled hamstring throughout the tourney. Some first-year players came into the tournament and performed well, with Will Bromley contributing at second base, and Adam Rowe helped out pitching and threw a shutout in the round robin stage.

“Dave Hash always comes with a very strong team,” Boyar added. “We expected to play them in the championship game. We scored one run in the first inning and two in the seventh inning. We are pretty much a veteran team. Every year we might pick-up a new player. Everybody plays their part and it makes it easy to manage the guys. We pretty much stick together.”

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2017 35+ Central

Delaware Destroyers 5, Puerto Rico Reds 4

‘Triple Threat Shuler Paves the Way’

By Andy Villamarzo, special to MSBL

November 18, 2017, Clearwater, FL – The weather is slightly different up in Delaware this time of year and for the Delaware Destroyers in the 35 Central championship game on Saturday morning, the fresh legs helped in a comeback effort. The tournament’s most valuable player, Johnny Shuler, helped set the tone playing in the infield, outfield and even pitched in relief as the Destroyers got by the Puerto Rico Reds 5-4 at Robin Roberts Field. Delaware overcame being down 2-0 after the first inning and got stellar performances on the mound from Shuler and starter Ben Tabb.

“It was beautiful,” Delaware Destroyers manager Chris Marshall said about Shuler’s appearance in the championship game. “It was his second game of the week. First one he threw a complete game. You get down here (in Florida) and you feel like a kid again with the cooler weather. When we go back up north, reality sets in and we are all nearing 40 and 40-plus. We are all just out here for the game we love and just having fun doing it while we can.”

Puerto Rico started off the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when Hector Mujica singled to left field and Benny Rivera followed up with a double to put runners at second and third. Both Mujica and Rivera ended up scoring to give the Reds a early 2-0 lead on the Destroyers but Delaware would slowly chip away at Puerto Rico’s lead throughout the contest.

In the top of the fifth inning is when the Destroyers would finally get themselves on the board against Puerto Rico starter Jean Ortega, as Steve Bennett and Clint Kuhl both reached base and then later scored on a pop single by Mike Montgomery. With the game tied up at 2-all, Puerto Rico would regain a two-run advantage in the bottom end of the fifth inning when Luis and Jose Ramos both scored and gave the Reds a sizable 4-2 lead.

“Our pitcher was doing a good job there of keeping us in the game,” Puerto Rico manager Jose Kercado said. “We thought we were doing a good job of keeping the game close there. Our bats have been hot lately despite losing a couple games. The boys have been really hitting the ball well, so we thought we still had a good chance to come back in the end.”

The difference in the game would eventually come in the top of the seventh inning and it became the deciding factor towards Delaware winning the 35-Mountain championship. Marshall singled to start off the frame and then later scored on an error. Bennett and Kuhl were once again intricate to runs being scored, as the former doubled to right field the latter singled home Scott West and Bennett, respectively. Shuler came in relief and faced six batters in two innings, allowing no hits or runs to preserve the victory.