Aug. 15, 2008
Santa Clara's Steve Kalush and Tommy Medica's team, Harwich, defeated Nate Garcia's team on Thursday night to win the Cape Cod Baseball League Championship. Kalush checks in for the finals time with www.santaclarabroncos.com to talk about winning the title and what it means, his goals for next year and a funny story about Medica.
SCU: So, champions again this summer? How does it feel?
Kalush: Yeah it's very exciting. It still hasn't really sunk in yet that we won. It's been a long season and I'm very proud to be a part of this championship team. It was rough for a while when we were struggling at different points in the season, and then didn't get an off day for over a month because of rain outs, but we battled through it and made everything worth while by winning the championship. I hope this can translate into some form of a championship for Tommy and I and the rest of the Bronco team this upcoming season.
SCU: Did you talk to Tommy much during the final game? He caught a great game!
Kalush: I didn't get to talk with Tommy much during the game. I was in the bullpen and getting ready to pitch if we tied and went into extra innings. But I did get to celebrate on the field with him and talk after we won it. He did a great job behind the plate, calling the right pitches for Chris Manno and Willy Kempf. It's always great watching him behind the plate because you know nothings going to get by and no one is going to steal.
SCU: Besides winning the championship, what's the best memory this summer?
Kalush: I think the best memory of the summer has to be the 18 inning marathon we played against Orleans to put us into the championship game. That was probably the best baseball game I have ever been a part of, and definitely the longest. It was a battle the whole time. Neither team's pitchers gave anything. We won because Angelo Songco was big- leaguing it getting over to a fly ball and dropped it to let the winning run score from second.
For me it was great to be able to pitch in that game. I had been closing for our team, and mostly pitching 1 maybe 2 innings, but not that night. Coach Englert brought me in in the 11th with runners on 1st and 2nd and I was able to get a first pitch, ground ball double play to end the inning with the score still knotted at 0-0. Honestly, I couldn't have told you how many innings I pitched when I came out of the game. When I asked our pitching coach, Ryan Parker, how many innings I threw, he said, "5 2/3. Great job man." I was pretty shocked. I hadn't pitched that long in over a month, back when I was starting. I tried not to think about the fact that we were in extra innings with the score 0-0, and giving up a run would probably mean a loss. I just kept going out there and tried to keep it simple, one pitch at a time and get their hitters out. Luckily, it worked and I finished with 5 2/3 innings giving up one hit and no runs. And two innings later we won the game. We were all exhausted, and happy to be able to have the next day off to rest and get ready to win the championship.
SCU: You have to have at least one funny story about Tommy and or Nate this summer. Give it up!
Kalush: Tommy led our team in hitting this season. But, until about the last two weeks of the season, he still hadn't gotten an extra base hit. We all would joke with him about him needing to "hit the weight room" or run faster and "leg out a double." When he finally hit his first double everyone in our dugout cheered and gave him a standing ovation. We even got the umpire to throw the ball in the dugout, so we could give it to him as a token of his first extra base hit in the Cape. He finished with like a .350 batting average with 4 doubles, two of which came in that game. That's not much of a story, but it's the best I've got.
SCU: Obviously your goal at the beginning of the summer is to win the title and now you have -- are you surprised?
Kalush: I'm really surprised that we won. I had always heard that Y-D and Orleans were the top teams in the league, and Harwich was just near the bottom. They went 14-30 last year, so at the beginning we were just hoping to win 15 games and out-do last year's team. We started off well though and were in second at the half way point in the season. At that point, we had the town talking about us. `It's about time,' they would say. Harwich hadn't gone to the playoffs in 11 years and hadn't won the title since 1987. At that point we really pulled together and started playing like we wanted that title. It was great for the Town of Harwich and all the people involved.
I was especially happy for our coach, Steve Englert, because he had been here all 11 years when they missed the playoffs, so for him to finally get there and win it all was great. He's a great coach who has a ton of energy and is always thinking optimistically. I like him a lot, he reminds me of Coach O'Brien. I'm really thankful Coach O'Brien and Coach Zirelli sent me out here to play in the Cape and for Coach Englert.
SCU: How is the town reacting to your win? Will they have a victory parade?!
Kalush: The town was very excited about the win. It's been 21 years since they've had anything to celebrate about. We had record crowds at both playoff games, 4,700 for the East division playoff game verses Orleans, and over 6,000 for the championship clincher. I don't think they will have a parade, but they are giving our team championship rings and shirts. I'm excited about getting a ring. I'll have two now, with the one I received last year by winning the Championship in Alaska.
SCU: Any final words for Bronco fans?
Kalush: I hope Tommy and I and the rest of the Broncos can put together a good season and hopefully make a run at the conference title and an NCAA regional appearance. It's been a while since Santa Clara has done that so I think now would be a good time to get to the post season. Hopefully, we'll have lots of Bronco fans out at our games this spring supporting us. I know I would love to be on the mound in front of a big crowd this season.