Minnesota Computers close season strong at NAFA World Series

Written by Bob on August 25th, 2016

Mn Computers Collage.llr Minnesota Computers / Coasters Beer Garden of St. Paul / Minneapolis turned around a sluggish season with an exceptional perforance at the 2016 NAFA A-Division World Series at Caswell Park in North Mankato, to finish second in the 50-team tournament with a 6-2 record. Courtesy Photo / Matt Fitzenberger

ST. PAUL / Minneapolis – If manager Richard Quigley were to grade his ball club for the regular season, he’d probably hand out a big red F. But in post-season play, he would surely have to swap it for a big shiny A+. Maybe even hand out some gold stars.

The Minnesota Computers / Coasters Beer Garden men’s fastpitch team plodded through the regular season with a so-so record. They finished fourth in the 12-team Dunning League at 6-4-2.

And in tournament play, they took third at Milltown, Wisconsin (3-2), and had a dismal weekend at the Hollywood tournament, going 0-4.

It’s the kind of results that will have opponents thinking we’ll crush these patsies. But pity the team with this thought in the post-season.

For MN Computers woke from its slumber to have an outstanding NAFA A-Division World Series at North Mankato, Aug. 19-21, at Caswell Park.

    CATCH FIRE AT WORLD SERIES

MN Computers fashioned a 6-2 record to finish runner-up to the Buzzards of Taft, California, who claimed the 24th Annual A-Division Championship with a 7-1 record in the 50-team tournament.

Quigley is as puzzled as anyone about how his team can suddenly turn mediocrity into excellence, like flipping a light switch from off to on.

“We’re a veteran team that was horrible until state (tournament) and NAFA World Series,” said Quigley. “But both seasons (2015, 2016) at the end were huge successes.”

As with the 2016 post-season, MN Computers turned around their 2015 season by taking fourth in the NAFA World Series. And they won the Minnesota Sports Federation (MSF) Class C State Tournament.

    SKIPPER NOT PLEASED

Veteran Matt Fitzenberger agreed with his manager’s assessment, but qualified it by saying injuries and family commitments this season hurt the team’s performance.

“We knew what our record was (7-11-2) because coach Quigley reminded us over and over all the way through NAFA World Series,” said Fitzenberger, who was selected to the All-World team. “I don’t think he thought much of us until the end.”

MN Computers finished their title run coming up short in a 6-2 loss to the Buzzards. But only after taking a 5-4 decision in the first title game to give each squad one loss and force a second game to decide the championship.

    TRIPLE SERIES CLASSIC

The two squads squared off three times in the tournament, marching through their brackets and meeting in the winner’s bracket final where the Buzzards pulled out a 2-1 win.

Mark Vail homered and Ron Mizener scattered four hits with eight strikeouts to lead the Buzzards. For MN Computers, Adam Connolly was 2-for-3, while Kent Casperson pitched well, allowing the two runs on six hits with three strikeouts.

“It was a great battle by two very good teams, setting the stage for what was a very memorable championship day,” Fitzenberger said.

After that gut-wrenching loss, MN Computers dropped to the loser’s bracket and defeated Animal House of Lacrosse, Wisconsin, 6-5. Waldvogel got the win in relief, and Joe Reinhert, Steven Halverson, Waldvogel, Drew Einess and Robb Enslin each drove in a run.

The win set up a return engagement with the Buzzards.

    BIG BLAST, STRONG ARM

In the 5-4 win, Waldvogel blasted a two-run homer, Halvorson tripled and later scored, and Dean Koopman pitched a complete game and was the only pitcher on the staff to beat the Buzzards.

“This was one of the best games I’ve ever seen Dean throw,” Fitzenberger said. “He was moving the ball in and out, up and down, and keeping the hitters off balance. A true pitching classic!”

For the Buzzards, Cody Maxcy and Javier Fierro hit home runs. Now both teams had a loss, so the A-Major title would be decided in one final battle.

MN Computers held a 2-1 advantage into the fifth, only to see the Buzzards plate five runs, and with Mizener spinning a four-hitter, the Buzzards came away champions – the first NAFA championship for Taft located near Bakersfield.

Jason Obregon (2-for-3) drove in two runs and Maxcy (2-for-4) and Tyson Magginni (1-for-2) had an RBI each. Mizener beat MN Computers for a second time to fashion a 4-2 record.

MN Computers was held to three hits, one each from Elness, Adam Johnson and Miles Helgeson. Despite the loss, MN Computers held their heads high after taking second in a tournament featuring 50 teams from throughout the U.S. and Canada.

    GOOD FINISH, LOOKING AHEAD

Quigley is already looking ahead to next season. He recently retired and will have more time to devote to the team.

“Next year we will be playing in about five tournaments,” he said. “And I’ll have weekends open to manage this.”

As for the 2016 season?

“The season at the end was a huge success,” he said.

** Five MN Computers players were selected to the NAFA All-World Team

  • Robb Enslin, .300 avg. (6-for-20), 7 RBI, 6 Runs, 2 HR.
  • Brian Waldvogel, .391 avg. (9-for-23), 4 RBI, 8 Runs, HR, 2B; 2-0 pitching record.
  • Kent Casperson, 2-2 pitching record, 23 1/3 IP, 12 ER, 13 SO, 3.60 ERA.
  • Matt Fitzenberger, .312 avg. (5-for-16), 3 RBI.
  • Adam Connolly, .348 avg. (8-for-23), 3 RBI, 3 Runs, 2B.
  • ** Statistics from playnafa.org.

    MN COMPUTERS EARLIER GAMES (By Matt Fitzenberger)

    MN Computers 12, J&D Tube 7
    MN Computers battled through a midnight start and a 2 a.m. rain delay. Game was tied 6-6 in the third inning. Then the team came back to the field at 7 a.m. and broke the game open. The team was led by a 2-for-3 performance by Matt Fitzenberger and Brian Waldvogel picked up the win.

    MN Computers 13, Wizards of Oz II 3
    The hitters continued to stay hot, batting around and scoring eight runs in the second inning. Locked in at the plate, MN Computers belted a string of line drives to take control of the game. Waldvogel held the Wizards in check to pick up his second win, scattering five hits with four strikeouts.

    MN Computers 5, RFG Fastpitch 4
    Matching up against one of our league teams we knew each other well. RFG jumped out to an early lead behind great pitching from Scott Emerson. However the MN computers chipped away from a 4-1 deficit, scoring 2 in the sixth and 2 in the seventh to take the lead for go. The team was led by a 2-for-3 performance by Fitzenberger, and a leadoff double in the seventh by Ryan Thomas.

    MN Computers 7, Beaumont Coyotes 4
    To stop the hard-hitting California team, MN Computers turned to All-World pitcher Kent Casperson. He mixed his riser, drop and change-up to keep the Coyotes off balance all game long.

    MN Computers continued its hot hitting and took the lead on clutch two-out hitting to take the lead. Robb Enslin belted a huge 3-run home run to help lead the team to victory. And a speedy outfield chased down Coyotes’ fly balls and line drives to fuel a defense that kept the Coyotes off the bases.

    The two squads combined for 22 hits. For MN Computers (10 hits), Waldvogel and Enslin had two hits, with Connolly, Helgeson, Halvorson, Johnson, Elness, and Fitzenberger one each. The Coyotes Yusef Davis, Chris Nassour, David Valdivia, Jesse Mullin, Johnny Ray Cabrera, had two hits a pieced, and George Ramirez, Jeremy Dean, each had one hit.

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