2006 Fall Season
Triple A Division Champions


Sharks (WC) (5-5) -vs- Belted USA (1) (8-1-1)

By Scot Sweet / PCBL Staff Writer

This second game of our championship doubleheader features the visiting Sharks (5-5) against the league-leading Belted USA (8-1-1). An especially interesting championship matchup, given the fact that the Sharks are the defending fall champs and have more or less limped into this championship contest with a .500 season record.

The Sharks are quick to get their offense going in the top of the 1st inning, getting singles from the top two spots in the order; Robert Mendoza and Pierre Rodnunsky. Scott Sharts followed with a walk, loading the bases with nobody out. Nonetheless, the next batter would hit a ground ball which resulted in a force-out at the plate; followed shortly thereafter by a 6-4-3 double play. No runs on 2 hits and the Sharks come up empty with the bases full and no outs.
Belted USA came up in the bottom of the 1st inning feeling pretty pumped that they got out of the top half of the inning without allowing the Sharks a single run. Belted USA starts off with their leadoff hitter, Brandon Loomis, who singles and later advances to second on a pass ball. With one out, Chris Walters singles home Loomis; giving them the first run of the contest. They would settle for one run in the inning; since Chris Walters was thrown out stealing second and the next batter, Adam Geery, singled but was picked off at first shortly thereafter.
The Sharks come up in the top of the 2nd inning down 1-0. The first batter goes down swinging, sending up 3rd baseman Mark Glennie who singles to left. The next batter is right fielder Tim DeGrasse, who promptly bangs an 0-2 pitch out of the park for a 2-run homer. The Sharks would end up with 2 runs in the inning, now leading Belted USA by a narrow 2-1 margin.
The next 4½ innings would go scoreless, bringing the Sharks up in the top of the 7th inning still holding the narrow one run lead. The Sharks send up Scott Sharts, who just made a brilliant play at 1st base to snag a hard line drive from Jose Banuelos to end the 6th inning for Belted USA. Sharts drives the first pitch deep to left center field; off the top of the scoreboard for a solo homer, increasing the Sharks’ lead to 3-1. The Sharks would settle for one run in the inning, but hold a two run lead with time running out for Belted USA as they come up in the bottom of the 7th inning.
Belted USA comes up empty in the 7th inning, as do the Sharks in the top half of the 8th. In the bottom half of the 8th inning, Belted USA sends up the bottom of their order, Jared Kaplan. Kaplan strikes out, bringing up leadoff hitter Brandon Loomis with one out. He doubles, sending up Stan Spancer with one out and a runner on second. Spancer singles to put runners on the corners for Chris Walters, who had the first RBI of the game in the first inning to give Belted USA the early lead. Stan Spancer steals second base on the second pitch to Walters, putting both runners in scoring position. Walters responds with a 2-run triple in the gap to tie the game at 3. Belted USA would settle for the pair of runs and would go into the top of the 9th inning with a 3-3 tie through 8 complete innings of play.
As we enter the 9th inning of this tight championship contest, the Sharks send up the bottom of their order, Art Santiago. He lines a single up the middle to start things off for the Sharks. The next two batters would be retired, sending up their big man, Scott Sharts, with one on and two out. With a solo homer, a single and a walk to his credit on the day already; Sharts works the count to 3-0 and then is put on intentionally. With runners at first and second with 2 outs, relief pitcher Jim Vatcher comes up with a chance to put the Sharks ahead. And he does in huge fashion – by driving one deep to right center field and over the fence for a 3-run homer; putting the Sharks up 6-3!
Belted USA starting pitcher Jose Banuelos is pulled following the 3-run shot by Vatcher, and is relieved by Chris Warters. The Sharks’ starting pitcher Alan Jaeger is the first batter to face Warters. With 2 out and nobody on base, Jaeger grounds to short, but a throwing error past the first baseman advances him to second base; keeping the inning alive for Brenden Bartholomew. He lines a shot throught the legs of the third baseman into left field, with Jaeger scoring on the play. The Sharks end up with 4 huge runs in the inning and now lead Belted USA by a 7-3 margin going into the bottom of the 9th inning.
Belted USA has their work cut out for them as they come up in the bottom of the ninth down by four. They send up Dave Lopez who leads off with a hard single to right field. It would be of no consequence, however; as the next three batters would go down in order.
It was a hard fought battle for both teams and a great championship game. In the end, the 9th inning was the decider as the Sharks come up with the four big runs late to successfully defend their crown as PCBL National Division Fall Champions!
Congratulations to the Champion Sharks for coming in as a low seed and defending their title; as well as to the Belted USA team for having such a great season and for providing us with some  great championship competition!
Pitching Notes: The winning pitcher for the Sharks was Alan Jaeger who went 6 complete innings; allowing only 1 run on 8 hits, with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. He was solid all the way. Sharks relief pitcher Jim Vatcher was also effective; going the remaining 3 innings and allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. Although Belted USA’s Jose Banuelos took the loss; it has to be noted that he held tough for 8 2/3 innings. Prior to the 9th inning, he had only given up 3 runs on 10 hits and struck out 5 batters; holding the Sharks scoreless in 6 of those innings. He did a fine job holding down a tough offensive Sharks squad for the majority of the contest.
The Championship MVP: Although there are 3 Sharks players worthy of mention for their offense in this championship, the title of MVP would have to go to Jim Vatcher, due to his accomplishments on both offense and defense. He came in for 3 innings of great relief pitching to get the save, as well as hitting the huge 3-run blast in the 9th inning that put the Sharks ahead for good. He was the man who came through late on all counts for the Sharks!

The other offensive performances that deserved mentioning:
Shark’s Scott Sharts:  2 for 2; with a solo homer, a single and 2 walks, 1 RBI
Shark’s Tim DeGrasse: 2 for 2; with a 2-run homer, a double and a walk, 2 RBI’s   
Belted USA’s Brandon Loomis:  3 for 3; with 2 singles, 1 double and a walk, 2 runs
Umpires: (Plate)  Phil Detro
              (Bases) John Laughlin
Game Time: 2:12pm – 5:16pm  (3 hours, 4 minutes)