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Featured in The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram 9/04/05

Cats crown ends 56-year dry spell


A good thing about sports, and especially baseball, is that after an athlete makes a mistake, usually is given the chance to redeem himself.

Whether he comes through or not is a different matter.

Tony Mota dropped a fly ball in left field, which for the moment looked to be the turning point of the final game of the Central Baseball League championship series Saturday. Later, however, Mota not only drove in the tying run for the Cats but also the go-ahead run the next inning as Fort Worth beat San Angelo 7-2 to claim the title.

The championship is the Cats’ first since 1948.

“These playoffs games this team really did a hell of a job,” Fort Worth manager Wayne Terwilliger said. “We stayed with it and pulled it out in the end. It’s been a long time for Fort Worth, so I’m happy.”

Billy Stokley (1-0) picked up the win in relief for the Cats. Starter Joel Kirsten, the game one winner, went 6 2/3 innings, allowing two unearned runs. Justin Craker (2-1), who won game two for San Angelo, took the loss.

Fort Worth had an early 1-0 lead before Mota’s fifth-inning error. With two outs and two runners on, San Angelo’s Kory Drew hit a fly ball to shallow left. Mota ran in toward the foul line, and shortstop Arnoldo Ponce ran back.

“I saw Ponce out of the corner of my eye, and I thought we were going to collide,” Mota said. “So I kind of took my eye off the ball and looked at him. That’s when I lost the ball for a second.”

The ball fell out of Mota’s glove and allowed both San Angelo runners to score.

“You have to forget about the mistake you made in the game; that’s going to happen,” Mota said. “As long as you stay mentally strong, you can come through in those big situations. I had that in my mind.”

Mota’s chance came in the sixth. With his team down 2-1, Terence Green walked to lead off the sixth. Fort Worth executed a hit-and-run, as Terrell Merriman dropped a single just over the San Angelo infield to right field, and Green raced to third.

“That’s what broke up the game, whoever was going to be more aggressive and have the ball fall their way,” said Green, who finished 2-of-3 with two runs. “This was our regular style of ball. We wanted to go into the playoffs playing like we did the whole season. We were able to do that.”

Mota scored Green with a single to right field. “I was dying to get back in that batter’s box,” Mota said.

The Cats struck again in the seventh, with pinch-hitter Mike Scanzano reaching with a one-out walk and going to second on a Green single.

San Angelo intentionally walked Merriman set up the double play, but Mota hit reliever Joldy Watts’ first pitch to deep center, scoring Scanzano and giving Fort Worth a 3-2 lead.

Angel H. Verdejo, (817) 685-3810 averdejo@star-telegram.com