Long Beach Squirrels
2003 Summer Wood Bat
League Champions

Game Summary

If there was one factor that didn't play into the outcome of this year's Wood Bat League Championship, it was heat and humidity. On the contrary, light chill and fog were the evening's forecast in the Sylmar foothills where El Cariso Park resides. As a matter of fact, it was hard to determine through the first half of this championship game which was colder, the nighttime air of the foothills or the collective bats of two teams trying desperately to get base hits off two hot pitchers.


Such was the case early on in this championship as both teams were scoreless through the first 3 innings, combining at that point for only 3 hits and bringing the early, collective strikeout count to seven. With an obvious pitcher's duel in the making, the visiting Bashers came up in the top of the 4th inning, still without a hit in the game.

Their leadoff hitter, Chuy Lopez, started off the inning by drawing a walk and then advanced to 2nd on a fielder's choice. With 2 outs, Javik Mahone is hit by a pitch, putting runners at the corners. Steve Klein steps up to the plate and singles home Chuy Lopez from 3rd, then advances to 2nd on a fielding error, with Mahone holding at 3rd. Mahone scores on a pass ball to the plate shortly thereafter for the 2nd run of the inning.

The Squirrels went down in order in the bottom of the 4th inning, as did the Bashers in the top of the 5th. The bottom of the 5th inning brought with it a taste of pitching greatness. Josh Goldberg; already throwing a 2-hit shutout through 4 complete innings for the Bashers; struck out the side to maintain their 2-0 lead going into the top of the 6th inning.

However, the Long Beach Squirrels held tough on defense in the top of the 6th inning. They put the Bashers down in order, with the 1st out of the inning being a strikeout; Jeff Cookson's 5th of the game. Also interesting to note is the amount of hits allowed by Cookson through 6 complete innings - just one!

The Squirrel's come up in the bottom of the 6th inning, down 2-0. Catcher Matt Cronin leads off the inning and ends up at 2nd base after a pair of throwing errors. He is sacrificed to 3rd as Jared Caputo flied out deep to right field. The next batter grounds out for the 2nd out of the inning, bringing up Josh Miranda who was now added to the bottom of the lineup. Miranda's 1st at bat of the day is a 2-out double, scoring Matt Cronin to cut the lead in half, Squirrels down 2-1.

The Bashers, holding on to a narrow lead; know they need something to happen as they come up in the top of the 7th. However, the 7th inning starts out to be a continuation of the two previous innings for the Bashers; as the 3 and 4 spots both come up to start the inning and strikeout, giving them 9 consecutive outs at that point. Catcher Steve Klein steps up with 2 outs in the inning and nobody on. He singles for his second hit of the game to keep the inning alive. The next batter is Louis Alcarez, who reaches base on a fielding error. Miguel Gonzales comes up with runners at 2nd and 3rd with 2 out. Here comes another key point in the game. He pops up a 2-2 pitch right in front of home plate, which for the moment appears to be a routine 3rd out. As pitcher Cookson and catcher Cronin face each other in front of home plate to determine who's to make the inning-ending catch, they are startled by Fernie Martin; the base runner from 3rd base, who runs right by them towards home yelling, "I got ball, I got ball!" Cookson and Cronin both back off and the ball promptly drops between them and rolled foul. Gonzales with new life, made the most of it by fouling off seven two-strike pitches and eventually doubles to score Klein and Alcarez. Two huge runs, helping the Bashers extend their lead, 4-1.

The Squirrels come up empty in the bottom half of the 7th inning, as do the Bashers in the top of the 8th. The Squirrels realize they are low on remaining chances as they come up to bat in the bottom of the 8th innings, down 3 runs. With the 7-spot coming up, Jeff Cookson bats for Marc Soulema and strikes out. Next, Briston Nelson comes up, subbing for Matt Cronin. He singles to bring up Jarred Caputo, who doubles in the 1st run of the inning. Pat Zivelonghi steps to the plate and reaches base safely on a base hit and advances on a second on throwing error during the same play; Caputo scoring from 2nd - 2 runs across in the inning. The 2nd out is a pop-up to short, which brings up the top of the order with 2 outs. Justin Urbas comes up with 2 out and 1 on - he singles in the tying run. Game tied 4-4. Next batter is Anthony Martinez who singles, leaving runners at the corners. That hit marked the end of the night for Josh Goldberg after a masterful performance and is replaced by Steve Nelson. With 2 outs, next batter is Alex Avlas, who singles driving home the go-ahead run - Squirrels up 5-4. Nelson then balks sending Martinez home from 3rd. In the inning the Squirrels come up with 5 runs on 6 hits, now up 6-4 going into the top of the ninth.

However, the 8th inning madness was too much for the Bashers to shake from their memory, thus going down quietly in the top of the ninth. It wasn't what you would call pretty; but it worked as the Long Beach Squirrels pulled out a wild one after trailing the entire game.

Pitchers Josh Goldberg of the Bashers and Jeff Cookson of the Long Beach Squirrels pitched remarkably to say the least. Both of them had this looking like a 2-man contest throughout the vast majority of this championship game. Goldberg pitched shutout ball for the Bashers through the first 5 innings of play, allowing only 2 hits up to that point. Overall, he ended up pitching 7 2/3 innings, registering 4 runs (2 unearned), allowed 8 hits and struck out 9; 3 of which were recorded to strike out the side in the 5th inning. Jeff Cookson was the iron man of the evening for the Squirrel's. Cookson went the distance, allowing 4 runs on 3 hits and striking out a whopping 11. For the most part he was completely unhittable.

Overall, a good contest between two quality ball clubs who needed a little more help than usual from their pitchers; and they can definitely say that they got just that from both starters. Congratulations to both teams for a game well played; and a special congratulations to the Long Beach Squirrels for pulling out such a dramatic victory in the fashion they did.