Brownsville, Texas had allowed seven runs in five games in the Pony League World Series that made it into the championship game on Wednesday night.
The thought of it scoring nine against Youngstown, Ohio and taking extra innings to win seemed about as likely as Charlie Sheen, Idaho governor, will become.
Folks, exercise is a strange, strange animal.
In a game that ended in 21 runs, 21 hits, nine mistakes, a home run, six pitching changes, and one management ejection, Brownsville won 11-10 in eight innings. It was perhaps the wildest Pony League World Series final ever.
Ruben Lopez Sr. is a proud father as his son Ruben Jr. used his younger son Alexis to lead Brownsville 10-9 in eighth place. Brownsville added another run and fought off one last Youngstown load to bring it home.
“The boys will remember that forever,” said assistant coach and deputy manager Juan Garza.
Even after losing, there weren’t many, if any, ball games like this one that Youngstown manager Dom Triveri participated in at this level.
“It’s high on the list,” said Triveri, “we left everything out there. There were some things that we did wrong and there are many things that we did right. So we played as a team and they did a great job. I am proud of my boys. I’m really.”
It was Youngstown’s first appearance at a championship game since 1955, when Dwight Eisenhower was president and the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. It was Brownsville’s first ever title game.
Youngstown got a break in the top of the first. Brownsville’s cleanup hitter Nehemiah Garcia missed a grounder with an out and runners on the corners. Anthony Triveri threw to second baseman Jake Rynd for one, and Garcia narrowly beat the season on first. The play wasn’t over yet. Alexis Lopez took a break for home, and Youngstown’s first baseman Hunter Garvin was ready and tossed home to catch Maddox Yost to complete a strange double game.
Brownsville scored first when a two-out single from Carter Wilson scored Jacob Hayes.
As with all tournaments, however, Brownsville had an answer. The Texan team took the lead with four runs in the top of the second.
Youngstown got two back in third on Wilson’s second RBI knock and a single from eighth place hitter Jake Rynd. Wilson would finish 4-6 with two doubles and three RBIs.
With two up in the fourth, Lopez Jr. got a fat fastball in the middle and sent it over the left field wall into the Washington night. The ball disappeared into the night, but Youngstown wouldn’t.
Brownsville was still struggling a little and narrowed the gap to a quarter. The second run of the inning came when an ugly outfield collision between left fielder Etziel Gonzalez and midfielder Jorge Garza Jr. resulted in an RBI double for Wilson (who ended the night 4-for-6 with two doubles and 3-RBI) . Two batters later, Dom Cubelli’s Hunter Garvin scored an RBI single.
Brownsville got insurance thanks to a rare multi-error game in game six. With two ons and one out, Nehemiah Garcia managed a grounder against Wilson in third. The throw bounced over the head of first base player Garvin, allowing Alexis Lopez to score. Trying to bring Lopez home, Jacob Hayes, who was now playing the correct field, threw wildly over the head of catcher Yost, hit Ruben Lopez and made it 9-6.
Youngstown left the inning with a 2-3-2 doubles game. A subsequent dispute led to Lopez Sr.’s expulsion. As a result, Lopez Sr. was not featured in the championship photos.
“It’s frustrating for all of us,” said Garza. “We have gone through so much adversity since day one to get here. It’s just boiled over. He’s a fighter. He will always protect his team, just like the rest of the coaches. And I guarantee you that everyone in our situation would have done the same. “
Despite being kicked out, Lopez Sr. is a particularly proud father tonight. Elderly son Ruben Jr. was 3–5 with one homer, four RBI, and three runs, and Alexis was 4-for-4 with four runs and two RBI. Although his father was not in the championship photos, Ruben Jr. knows what his father means to him.
“He helped us with everything,” he says. “Late workouts, early workouts, running, pitching, hitting, everything.”
In the closing stages of the sixth, Youngstown roared for three runs for a draw, the last two coming in a two-run single from Rynd.
With the game in the bottom of the seventh, Youngstown didn’t load the bases with anyone. It took a fly ball and he got one.
Be careful because this is going to be weird.
Cubellis hit a flyball to the right and both runners failed to switch. As a result, Brownsville’s attacker Rudy Gomez caught the ball and turned a rare 9-6 double game.
“I tell everyone to go back and switch when it comes to batting outfield,” said Youngstown manager Triveri. “We didn’t do that.”
At the end of the seventh, Youngstown scored a run and had runners in first and second places for Wilson. He hit a flat flyball in the middle and Jorge Garza Jr. jumped to end it. “
After Lopez Jr. put Brownsville ahead in eighth place, the Texan team added an insurance run. Youngstown had another attack, scored one run, and had two for Wilson.
Wilson hit a flyball in the flat center. Jorge Garza Jr. came to make a dive and finished it all. The team from the Rio Grande Valley, less than 20 minutes from the border, reached the top of the PONY baseball universe.
“This is what we will always remember,” said Juan Garza, who is not related to Jorge. “No matter how many games we won here, we won this game. “This is how we bring the championship back down into the valley.
Now, 20, 30, 40 years later, the Brownsville Boys of ’21 will be speaking to their sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, granddaughters, and anyone else willing to hear what they accomplish for six nights in August to have.
“I will remember my friends, my friends who will no longer take part in this tournament because they are going to high school,” said Alexis Lopez emotionally. “I have another year here.”
“Brownsville, Texas has never brought home a championship,” said Juan Garza. “This is the first time. The boys will always remember to take the championship home with them.”