Stokes Single Lifts Washington DC Local 602 Past Indiana Sprinkle Fitters Local 669 7-6 In 39th Annual U. A. “B” Division Finals At Expressway Park
Milford, Oh.—Thomas Stokes lined a single into the right-centerfield gap to plate Mike Young with the winning run in the bottom of the 8th to lift Washington DC Local 602 past Indiana Sprinkle Fitters Local 669 7-6 in the second championship game of the class “B” division of the 39th Annual United Association National Tournament June 24-26 at Expressway Park.
Stokes’ base hit followed singles by Tony Merlo and Josh Davis. Young pinch-ran for Merlo, and raced home from 2nd base with the game winner.
Washington pushed across two runs in the bottom of the 7th to force extra innings, then retired Indiana one-two-three in the top of the 8th to set the stage for Stokes’ heroics in the bottom of the 8th.
Local 602 had mercy-ruled Indiana 15-3 in the first finals for their seventh straight victory in the losers’ bracket. After brushing aside Cincinnati Local 392 “B” 8-2 in their opener, Washington dropped a tough 19-18 decision to Cleveland Local 120 in game two. But rallying behind the play of Lee Quade and Josh Davis, and an offense that scored at least fourteen runs in their next seven games, Local 602 roared back to win eight straight games and post a 9-1 record for the three day event.
After falling to Cleveland, Washington eliminated Louisville Local 502 17-2, Toledo Local 50 17-7, Toronto Local 46 17-2, St. Louis Local 562 16-7, Cleveland Local 120 14-11, and Kentucky Sprinkle Fitters Local 669 15-5 before double-dipping Indiana.
The champions outscored their opponents by a 144-64 margin, mercy-ruling five of their ten opponents.
Scoring sixteen runs-per-game and “jelling as a team” were the keys to winning the tournament, said Washington manager John Mullins.
“This was only our third tournament of the year, and it was the first time we’ve all been there and played together,” said Mullins. “Also we believed in one another and counted on one another. That went a long way. And we had some young guys who really shined for us and picked up their game throughout the tournament. We made the routine plays defensively and made some outstanding plays. We had thirteen people on the roster and everybody contributed.”
Lee Quade was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“He played 3rd base for us and was exceptional there, and he was our leadoff hitter and he hit about .750,” said Mullins. “He was our team leader for the whole tournament.”
Quade also shared tournament home run leadership with teammate Josh Davis with four.
Mullins said there was “absolutely no way we could win this tournament after we lost to Cleveland 19-18.
“I didn’t believe there was a chance in the world,” he said. “They hit two grand slams on us for eight runs. We outhit them but had no home runs, so I felt we could do something, but I didn’t give us a chance in the world that we could win.
“I’ve been playing ball for 27 years and we may never have a chance to go 9-1 again,” he added. “You have to have a perfect weekend and have everything go your way, and you have to bat over .650, and we did.”
Mullins said that when his team avenged its setback against Cleveland on Saturday night it provided his club with a big lift.
“We got a little boost at the end of the day on Saturday when we sent Cleveland home, winning 14-10,” noted Mullins. “That helped prepare us for Sunday morning and to give us an edge to do what we had to do.”
Still, after mercy-ruling Kentucky 15-5 in the losers’ bracket finals, and Indiana 15-3 in the first championship game, Mullins said his team was “out of gas.
“In the bottom of the 7th we were down 6-4, and we were out of gas. We weren’t hitting the ball, and we weren’t concentrating, and we were completely out of juice,” recalled Mullins.
“I felt like everyone was tight, so we got together and talked among ourselves. We had the hammer and I pinch-hit myself and had a leadoff single. I’m 46-years old so we put in a pinch-runner, and we got three more base hits to tie the game. Fortunately the other team wasn’t hitting, and we were playing well defensively.”
Mullins said his team also got a boost from several teams that Washington had eliminated from the tournament.
“A few teams came over and rooted for us from different Locals,” said Mullins. “We sent five teams home on Saturday and a lot of those teams had our backs.”
Mullins said his team also appreciated the hospitality from host Cincinnati Local 392 and Expressway Park.
“I’ve played in a lot of worlds over the past 27 years – at least two a year – and the hospitality was fantastic. The tournament was well run and from start to finish. It was phenomenal. The umpires did a fantastic job as well. I love U-Trip.”
Mullins concluded by acknowledging the help the team received from Washington DC Local 602.
“None of this would have been possible without the support of our local union and our Business Manager, Danny Loveless,” said Mullins.
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