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MABL team wins San Diego tourney

July 05, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO — In the official scorebook for the Imperial Valley Red Sox team in the San Diego Adult Baseball League Fourth of July tournament, it will read Jimmy Gonzalez, three pinch-hit at bats, three hit by pitches.

What you won't find is Gonzalez is probably the main reason the Imperial Valley squad won the 48-team tournament in the 18-year-old and over A division. The Red Sox went 4-1, beginning their run Saturday and claiming the title Monday.

While Gonzalez's stats weren't impressive, it was what he did behind the scenes that helped the underdog Red Sox win it all.

Playing the role of general manager, Gonzalez put together this group of 22 players from the Imperial Valley Men's Adult Baseball League and had the team ready for some of the toughest competition it has seen, as it played against squads from all of California and the rest of the United States.


"We had this team together practicing since the beginning of June, but we only had eight guys going out on a regular basis," said Gonzalez. "I was kind of worried, but I knew guys wanted to be out there and play in this tournament."

That wasn't the case for Gonzalez's squad last year. A somewhat different team went 2-2 but could have done better, Gonzalez said.

"Last year I really didn't have the number of guys approach me like this year. I think guys were a little hesitant about what we were getting into," said Gonzalez. "And we weren't really as prepared. If we would've been more prepared we probably would've done a lot better last year."

Gonzalez learned from his mistakes. As soon as the tournament ended in 2000 he was getting prepared for 2001.

Said Brawley Union High School baseball coach Pedro Carranza, player/manager for the Red Sox: "This year we planned it well. We've been planning this thing for a year, since last year's tournament ended. So we got everything together and entered this year with the idea that we were there to prove something. And I think with how well we did we proved that there are guys from the Valley that can play some baseball."

One of the key additions to this year's team was Gonzalez's brother Tony, an assistant baseball coach at Southwest High School in El Centro. Tony Gonzalez helped the Red Sox rip through most of their competition and earned tournament MVP honors.

Said Tony Gonzalez: "After the championship game I really wasn't sure that I would get the MVP. I mean, we had a few other guys who deserved it … we had some pitchers who did really well in the tournament. So getting it was kind of a surprise."

After a 22-4 thrashing of the Fresno Stars in game one, the Imperial Valley team topped San Cerveceros of Chula Vista 11-3, as Tony Gonzalez finished 3-for-5 with five RBIs, including a grand slam.

Following a 5-4 loss to the Phoenix Firebirds, the Red Sox came back to pound the then-undefeated Las Vegas Pirates 12-3. Gonzalez "went yard" again and finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs.

In the championship game against Palm Springs Go Yard, Gonzalez truly earned his MVP honor. With the score tied 2-2 in the top of the 10th inning, Gonzalez jacked his third bomb of the tournament to give the Red Sox a 4-2 advantage, which was preserved by reliever Scott Hartsock.

"Coming into this tournament I knew I wasn't going to get much playing time and I was fine with that," said Jimmy Gonzalez. "But when we won that championship game and my brother was named MVP, that was one of the best feelings I've ever had.

"Overall I think everyone on the team had fun," he continued. "I was probably the one that was the most serious out there. I really wanted to win it. That's why I put this team together. It would've been tough to just go up there and lose. We all had a great time up there and now we're just getting ready to defend our title next year."

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