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Las Vegas 8, Utah Utes 7
‘Vukasin’s Third Hit is Walk-off Variety’
By Jason P. Skoda,
special to MSBL
October 29, 2017, Fitch Park, Mesa, AZ - Jake Vukasin had it easy
on the stand-up double and triple. He coasted in without much drama. A little out
of breath, maybe, but good to go. It was the game-winning infield hit for Las Vegas that left
him prone on the ground before teammates, including his brother and father,
rushed to him to make sure he was in one piece.
He wasn’t walking off
anything right away, but the team did for an 8-7 comeback win Sunday over the Utah Yutes for the title in the Father/Son Zona Division. "I just knew I had to
beat it out, and that first baseman was straddling the bag, and I flipped over
his leg,” the 26-year-old said. "I was stunned and I’ll feel it tomorrow, but
it feels pretty good right now.”
Everything feels pretty
good when the hustle down the line leads to your first MSBL World Series title.
"It’s great to finally get one, especially for those guys who have been doing
it longer,” said Vukasin, who was named MVP by his team.
It was the fourth time in
eight years that Las Vegas made the championship and the first time everyone
had to know their ring size. "We’ve had some tough luck in the championship
game,” Las Vegas manager Robert Moore said. "We’d lose a close game and give up
the lead late. This time we got it done in the last inning.”
Las Vegas trailed most
of the game as Utah scored two in the first inning, including an RBI double by Carson Angeroth, and eventually led 5-2 after three innings. Las Vegas tied it
in the fourth on a Vukasin double.
Utah, which won four in
a row to get to the title game, went 4-2 on the week with both losses coming
against Las Vegas. They went ahead in the
seventh on a two-run double by Duane Lee. "We added a few there late, but not
enough,” said Utah manager Riley Miles, who went two for four with a run. "It’s
hard losing like that, but it was a great tournament. We played well, but they
were a little better.”
Las Vegas, which won both
meetings against Utah including an 18-3 win to start the tournament, added one
in the eighth off Pierce Kettering before Vukasin’s heroics in the ninth.
The ninth started with Benny Lloyd getting a walk, stealing second and advancing to third on the
throwing error at second by the catcher.
Kettering was able to
get two outs, but then hit John Dillard, who stole second. With a 2-2 count,Vukasin hit a hard grounder to shortstop where it took a high hop and forced
the short stop to adjust at the final moment.
It was just enough to
make it a close play, and Vukasin beat it out. As the first baseman collected
himself after the close call and collision, Dillard came around to score the
winning run on the play.
"That was great
awareness to keep running,” Moore said of Dillard’s winning run. "He just kept
coming and that gave us the win.”
The win allowed the
fathers and sons to celebrate together. It’s one of the reasons the father/son
division is the most popular. Vukasin had a chance to share it with his dad,JD, and older brother, Shane.
"This is my Christmas,”JD said. "I love coming to this event. Sharing this with my two sons is pretty
incredible. It’s even better because (Jake) had the game winner. This is pretty
special.” Miles, who said they discussed walking Vukasin, decided against it
because Kettering was struggling with his control. "It would have been great to
win it, of course, but this was a great chance to play with the kids all week,”
he said. "You can’t ask much more than that. We had a great time and created
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Utah 2 0 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 7
Las Vegas 1 0 1 3 0 0 0 1 2 8 8 2
W – R. Martin. L -P.
Kettering. Save – None. D. Lee, P. Kettering (5) and T. Campos. S. Espinoza,
Green (3), S. Vukasin (3), L. Bergren (6), R. Martin (9) and J. Espinoza, R.
Martin (3), Tampke (8).
2B – C. Angeroth, D.
Lee, J. Vukasin.
3B – C. Angeroth, J.
Leading Hitters: U – R.
Miles 2x4, run, P. Kettering 2x5, run, C. Angeroth 2x4, run, 2 RBI, 2B, 3B. P.
McCuiston 3x5, run, 2 RBI. D. Lee 1x5, 2B, 2 RBI. LV – J. Cruz 2x4, run, RBI,
Dillard 1x4, 2 runs, RBI, J. Vukasin 3x4, 2B, 3B, run, 2 RBI.
SB: U – R. Miles 2,
LV - J. Cruz 2, Lloyd,
Moore, Dillard, Green, A. Cruz. WP – Green.
Game time: 2:58.