Nationals prospect Steven Lombardozzi wrapped up another successful season by knocking in the winning run for the Scottsdale Scorpions in a 3-2 win over Peoria in Arizona fall league championship, culminating a memorable season for the Chaska, MN native.
Lombardozzi advanced from Potomac to Harrisburg this summer, refined his skills in the instructional league and then participated and excelled in Arizona.
"It was pretty special, especially to come together in such a short time with all new guys from all over the place. To end up winning the whole thing was great. We jelled and it was real fun," says Lombardozzi.
Lombardozzi also noticed all the Nationals on the field when they won the game.
"I didn't even think about how each one of us had a big role in the game until afterwards," recollects Lombardozzi. "That was pretty cool.
"I was surprised a little bit. I didn't know what to expect. It was unbelievable. Everyone on that roster was a good guy. Everyone played the game hard from the get go."
Lombardozzi ended up batting .293 for the season and .368 down the stretch in November. He says he gained momentum as the month wore on in Scottsdale.
"I started feeling better and better," says Lombardozzi. "I felt I was getting more comfortable. At first, the pitching was pretty good. Just seeing more and more pitches, I was able to play a couple of games in a row and get consistent. It was good towards the end there."
In the final, Lombardozzi delivered the go-ahead RBI double that gave the Scorpions the 3-2 advantage. He says he really wanted to deliver after failing to get the run home in his previous opportunity.
"My last at bat before that with a guy in scoring position, I wasn't able to get him in," says Lombardozzi. "So, I really wanted to come through right there and drive him. It was 1-and-0 and I was just looking for something I could drive. I was able to hit it well and got over the right fielder's head."
Championships like the one won last week in Arizona mean a lot to the players involved, just watch the celebration on MLB Network. As a fan, if you were biting your nails for that final out, imagine what it felt like to play in that game.
"It was wild," says Lombardozzi. "My heart was pounding the last three innings from the bench. Every out was crucial. When we got the final out when (first baseman) Brandon Belt caught the ball and we knew we had won it was pretty fun."
Lombardozzi was honored while with Scottsdale with the Stenson Sportsmanship award, recognized by the managers of every team in the Arizona fall league for his leadership and skill on and off the field and being truly a team player.
It is a refrain that every coach that has come in contact with Lombardozzi has confirmed about what kind of baseball player he is.
"It was very special to me," says Lombardozzi. "I think I have always tried to pride myself on that part of the game and playing the game the right way."
"It is something I have grown up just doing and also you have to give credit to my coaches and the Nationals organization. That is the how everyone is playing baseball with the Nats now. But just having the coaches to nominate me in the first place was just an honor."
Lombardozzi got to play at two levels of the Nats minor leagues last summer and says he can see the talent building and the team getting the right kind of players.
"We definitely have a lot of pitching and guys have talent with the bat," says Lombardozzi.
"I also have noticed that we are getting a lot of guys now who know how to play the game and are playing the game hard. It is kind of contagious. You see one guy doing it and then another guy just hops on to."
Hear the complete interview with Lombardozzi and another in-depth talk with pitcher Cole Kimball on nationals360.com and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on Federal News Radio, 1500 AM.