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Suncoast Suns 5, Puerto Rico Athleticos 2
'Kearschner Shows Veteran Dominance on the Bump'
By Andy Villamarzo, special to MSBL
Dunedin, FL., November 11, 2017 - There’s no doubt that’s it’s a tough feat to
bring a group together in unison to win a championship. For the Suncoast Suns,
they’re hoping to keep the band together a little bit longer after the 55+
National tournament results.
Suncoast pitcher Jim Kearschner pitched a
complete game, striking out six batters en route to the Suns defeating thePuerto Rico Athleticos 5-2 at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Saturday
morning. Suns manager Peter Moran’s wishes to his championship winning group
afterwards was to vow to return and defend their title.
"Jim (Kearschner) is a very experienced guy and
he’s a grade A pitcher,” Moran said. "He was able to locate his fastball,
locate his slider and (Puerto Rico) wasn’t able to get good contact on the ball
throughout the game. We were playing good defense behind him and guys were
making the plays.”
From the get go, Kearschner was able to get a
read on the Athleticos’ lineup and located his pitchers early and often. The
right-hander struck out three in the first three frames and got several players
to hit ground balls. Most of Kearschner’s outs were on ground balls that
developed into double play situations.
The Suns got their bats heated up in the top of
the third inning and were able to tag Puerto Rico starter Antonio Pabon for four
runs in the inning. By the end of the top end of the inning, Suncoast entered
the fourth armed with a 4-0 lead and Kearschner had all the confidence he
needed for the rest of the contest. Dan Cuff’s double in the third inning
helped get the scoring going for the Suns.
"Leads are everything,” Kearschner said about
his club going up 4-0 in the third inning. "We’ve played in a lot of close
games and when you’re pitching with a lead, it takes some of the pressure away.
It made me feel better pitching with a lead, because when you’re behind you
have to pitch that much harder.”
Suncoast avenged an early tournament loss to Puerto Rico and was able to turn the tables and win when it mattered most. Jose
Castillo’s group didn’t go down quietly, however, and in the bottom of the ninth
inning made things somewhat interesting. With Kearschner looking to pitch a
complete game shutout, the Athleticos avoided the shutout and posted two runs
on the board before a fielder’s choice by Alfredo Batista effectively ended the
The goal for Moran and the Suns are hoping to be
in the same position again next season, with the team’s manager telling his
players right after the game that he wants the club back intact.
"It’s a whole lot of fun to be out here and play
as a team,” Moran said. "Having that continuity and that togetherness is
paramount. I thought it would be good to let these guys know let’s keep it
together for another run.”