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2008 Playoffs: Division Series Recap

Game Recaps

Friday, 2008 October 15 – a recap of the divisional round

Round 1: Asia Giants (73-89) vs. Daly City Montis (141-21)

Game 1: The Daly City Montis made quick, efficient work out of the Asia Giants. SP1 Nathan Yan notched a 2-hit, 17K shutout in Game 1

Game 2: Things got dramatic for a moment in Game 2, where the Montis had staked themselves to a 5-3 lead going into the 9th. Closer Josiah Leong, consistent for most of this year, came in for the save and yielded a leadoff walk to Alex Quiros, followed promptly by a 2-run homer by journeyman Boss Nass to blow the save and tie up the game. Leong escaped the rest of the inning, and both sides seemed ready for extended innings as the Montis went down 2 outs in the ninth, with Asia closer Richard Pendergast out to pitch.

But with the last out on the line, CF Tiffany Ho, benched for defense in the first game, stroked her second single of the day from the #9 slot, and 2B Cristian Ortiz followed up with his own (3-5 on the day), to set up C Tina Quach with runners on 1st and 2nd…

Now up, number 8, Tina Quach.
She’s 0 for 4, striking out once.
With runner in scoring position she’s 42 for 144 (.292), with 1HR and 59RBI this season.
There are 2 down.
The count is 1-1…
Pendergast delivers…
changeup…
Experimental ErRR!! swings..
hit hard on the ground…
up the middle…
tough chance for the limited-range second baseman John Ruppe…
he dives…
can’t get it…
it’s laced into center field for a base-hit.
Ho goes to third.
Ortiz goes to second.
Ortiz going for third, Ho scores!
WOW, Quach wins it with an RBI single!!

Game 3: Things appeared to be going swimmingly in their first road game, as the Montis cruised to a 4-0 lead behind 6 shutout innings by SP3 Terrence Zhao. The recently-recovered lefty unraveled from there however, giving up two ugly bases-clearing doubles Tom Clark and Benjamin Trepanier for 5 runs in the 7th, again setting up 9th-inning dramatics for the second game in a row. CF Tiffany Ho got onto first on a fielder’s choice after SS Henry Nghe’s single, and then scooted over to 3rd after another single by 2B Cristian Ortiz, and then tied the game up by stealing home on a wild passed ball from closer Richard Pendergast in his second rough outing in a row. It would prove to be not enough however, as setup woman Connie Chen gave up a triple to Brian Batchelder leading off, who was drive home on a tag-up by Trepanier.

Game 4: Was a mostly drama-less 6-3 victory, with SP1 Yan returning to the mound but delivering a rather pedestrian 7IP, 2ER performance. 1B Derek Lew provided more than enough firepower, going 2-5 with two doubles and driving in 3 RBIs to lead the victory.

Game 5: After three straight rocky performances by the starting staff, SP4 Samantha Chin delivers a virtuoso performance, closing out the Giants and the series with a 2-hit, 8-K shutout

Final Outcome: Daly City Montis win, 4-1 (4.6-2.8 runs/game)

Game 1: Daly City 3-0 (Player of the Game: SP1 Nathan Yan, 9IP, 2H, 0ER, 17K)
Game 2: Daly City 6-5 (2B Cristian Ortiz 3-5, 1R, 2RBI)
Game 3: Asia 6-5 (CF Tom Clark 2-4, 1BB, 1R, 2RBI)
Game 4: Daly City 6-3 (SS Salgu Wissmath, 3-3, 1 BB, 1R, 1RBI, 1HR)
Game 5: Daly City 3-0 (SP4 Samantha Chin, 9IP, 2H, 0ER, 8K)

Not a bad showing by the Giants, who held the Montis high-powered offense to just 4.6 runs per game (compared to 7.06 in the regular season).

Round 1: Europe Cricketeers (74-88) vs. Mozilla Firefoxes (80-82)

Veteran ace Robert Kroger did not disappoint in his first playoff appearance, throwing two dominating starts that propelled the Firefoxes to victory. That came with a cost, however, as Kroger appeared to throw out his back while securing the Game 4 victory (he’s day-to-day with a strained back for the next 2 weeks, which doesn’t bode well for their series with the Montis).

Final Outcome: Mozilla Firefoxes win, 4-2 (6.0-4.3 runs/game)

Game 1: Mozilla 8-2 (SP1 Robert Kroger, 8IP, 3H, 2ER, 11K)
Game 2: Mozilla 5-4 (3B Thomas McElveen, 2-3, 2BB, 2R, 1RBI)
Game 3: Europe 6-4 (C Rolland Hochstetler, 2-3, 1BB, 2R, 3RBI, 1HR)
Game 4: Mozilla 8-3 (SP1 Robert Kroger, 8IP, 7H, 2ER, 9K)
Game 5: Europe 7-5 (DH Paul Ruch, 2-4, 1BB, 1R, 2RBI)
Game 6: Mozilla 6-5 (2B Benjamin Ortega, 2-3, 1R, 3RBI, 1HR)

Round 1: Pentax Shake Reducers (78-84) vs. Las Vegas Valleys (99-63)

The upstart Valleys looked like they were toast on October 8th, when a 7th-inning homerun by Pentax CF Steffen Richardson secured a close 7-6 win and sent Las Vegas reeling into an 0-3 series hole. Star LF Gates Skywaler had been annihilating Las Vegas pitching (6-12, 2HR, 7RBI in three games), Pentax ace Augusto Figueroa had delivered a 5-hit shutout in Game 1, and SP2 Warren Hobson dominated in a 8+2/3IP, 4-hit, 0ER performance in Game 2.

The Valleys battled back valiantly in Game 4 however. Las Vegas pitchers shockingly silencing Skywalker’s bat (0-4, 1K), and CF Richard Eager hammered Augosta Figueroa’s second start with 2 homers and 3RBI to lead a 7-5 victory. The Shake Reducers’ C Ralph Loftis fought back valiantly, going 3-4 with 2HR and all 5RBI’s, but it wasn’t enough.

Game 5 proved to be  a complete reversal of Game 2, with a group effort clobbering of Warren Hobson (2+2/3IP, 7ER) and Joseph Moser redeeming himself with a virtuous 8+2/3IP, 3-hit performance.

Game 6 featured all the dramatics – going into the 8th with a 2-0 lead, Gates Skywalker cleared the bases with a 2RBI double to tie the game up, the only runs Pentax would score. Unlikely hero Manuel Trujillo (.190-.245-.270 regular season) poked out an RBI single to walk off the game in the 9th.

In what might become a trend this postseason, Trujillo again uplifted the Valleys, going 3-4 with 1R and 4RBIs to back up an amazing performance by SP1 Larry Belton (9IP, 1ER, 6K)

Final Outcome: Pentax Shake Reducers win, 4-3 (5.1-4.3 runs/game)

Game 1: Pentax 5-0 (SP1 Augusto Figueroa, 9IP, 5H, 0ER, 9K)
Game 2: Pentax 10-1 (SP2 Warren Hobson, 8+2/3IP, 4H, 0ER (1R), 8K)
Game 3: Pentax 7-6 (LF Gates Skywalker, 2-4, 1R, 3RBI, 1HR)
Game 4: Las Vegas 7-5 (C Ralph Loftis, 3-4, 2R, 5RBI, 2HR)
Game 5: Las Vegas 13-0 (SP2 Joseph Moser, 8+2/3IP, 3H, 8K)
Game 6: Las Vegas 3-2 (SP3 Frank Martin, 9IP, 6H, 2ER, 7K)
Game 7: Las Vegas 6-1 (SP1 Larry Belton, 9IP, 5H, 1ER, 6K)

A disappointing performance by Skywalker, who is knocked out in the divisional round for the first time in his career, and ends with a mellow .269-.286-.615 performance.

Round 1: Paris Forfeiters (86-77) vs. Nikon Vibration Reducers (86-76)

Game 1: The Paris Forfeiters wasted what may have been a golden opportunity for them in Game 1, after SP2 Rex White (of 13-14, 5.29 ERA regular season fame) staked them out to a 2-0 lead with 7 shutout innings, the bullpen fell apart, with Isaias Rodriguez yielding an 8th-inning run and closer Gabriel Yocom blowing the save and giving up a Bussho Takahashi triple to gift Nikon Vibration Reducers the win.

Game 2: Paris and ace Kyle Katarn did what you expected in Game 2, shutting out Nikon with a 2-hitter.

Game 3 saw an overall solid performance by 2B Eric Cook in a 7-4 team effort win.

Game 4: Rex White delivered another impressive 1-run performance, and again led by 2B Eric Cook absolutely obliterated the Vibration Reducers

Game 5: In a shaky 11-hit performance, Katarn managed to hold down the Vibration Reducers to 1 run over 7 innings, although this was almost blown again by the Forfeiters’ shaky defense (4ER in 1+2/3IP by John Parks and closer Garfield Yocom).

Final Outcome: Paris Forfeiters win 4-1 (6.4-2.6 runs/game)

Game 1: Nikon 3-2 (SP1 Josue Berrero, 8+2/3IP, 5H, 2ER, 4K)
Game 2: Paris 2-0 (SP1 Kyle Katarn, 9IP, 2H, 0ER, 11K)
Game 3: Paris 7-4 (2B Eric Cook, 2-2, 1BB, 2R, 2ER)
Game 4: Paris 15-1 (2B Eric Cook, 3-5, 1R, 5RBI)
Game 5: Paris 6-5 (C Alejandro Liriano, 3-4, 1R, 4RBI, 1HR)

A solid performance for Paris, who may have an emerging star in Eric Cook and may have a big 2 of their own in Katarn and Rex White.

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The 2008 Postseason Preview

League Review

Friday, 2008 October 1 – The fall returns once again, in a postseason that will see old titans to return and new legends begin. The Daly City Montis, off a staggeringly brilliant September and on a 26-1 run, look like they will barnstorm through the UL, where every other team in the league finished under .500. But major shakeups abound in the SWL, which is sending up the best team in its history to take revenge on their 2007 postseason snub.

First, a quick recap of the Montis’ September finish:

The final month was marked by sheer dominance by the Daly City rotation – of the 27 games, starters threw an absurd 18 complete games, gaining shutouts in 11 of them! They starters had a team ERA of 1.61 in September, and the only loss came from an unfortunate 2R complete game performance by Zhao.

Despite all the long starts, the bullpen and closer Josiah Leong did get in some work – he closed out 6 more saves and finished with the league lead at 36. Middle reliever Bernadette Dugtong also pitched 5 scoreless innings to end the season on a 12-inning scoreless streak.

1B Derek Lew started off with a slow month, almost losing the RBI lead he’s held for most of the season to United States 3B Juan Truex. But he began a late surge, hammering home 6 RBIs on 9/22 in the best Daly City performance of the year.

The team’s HR race went down to the wire – Lew faded in September with just 3 HR, but LF Ted Kwong, RF Francis Chen, and 3B/C Alan Wong all finished within a single homerun of each other. Kwong, battling Lew for the lead most of the season, tapered off with a solid 5 HR September, but was caught by a steadily rising Wong (8 September homeruns), and a herculean 11 by Chen, who has had jaw-dropping second-half splits after returning from his injury – 23 homeruns in 52 games and 189 at-bats, on pace for 71 over a 162-game season.

Overall, the Montis finished 141-21, the best season in team history and 61 games ahead of the second-place Mozilla Firefoxes at 80-82 (.494). The 3rd place Apple Septic Tanks were just 2 games behind at 78-84 (.481), while the Microsoft Longhorns saw a precipitous fall to 4th with a 71-90 (.441) finish, a 21 game drop from last year.

Things were shaken up once again in the UL Terran Division, where last years division champion Caribbean Pirates dropped 15 games to last place, finishing at 64-98 (.395) as the worst team in the league (after finishing with the best-ever Terran Division record in 2007). The Europe Cricketeers took the crown, at 74-88 (.457), just a single game above the Asia Giants.

In the SWL Photomaker Division, Pentax and Nikon swapped places, with the Vibration Reducers taking the crown at 86-76 (.531) and Pentax dropping a staggering 11 games off their 2007 mark to finish at 78-84 (.481), the first losing season of perrenial batter of the year Gates Skywalker’s career. Nontheless, he’s in the playoffs again, where he’ll hope to make some noise as a one-man wrecking crew.

The World Cities division saw the Las Vegas Valleys take a monumental leap, winning 99 games (99-63, .611), a new high-water market for any non-Montis team. They field a formidable offense and the SWL’s best pitching, and are a clear favorite for the SWL pennant. The wildcard, meanwhile, came down to the wire, with the #2 Tokyo Samurai trading an epic 5-game losing streak with Paris Forfeiters’ 5-game win streak heading into the last game of the season, to fall 1 game back. The Forefeiters would end up dropping their last game to Nikon while the Samurai would eek out a 3-2 victory over the Sony Super Steadyshots, leading to a historic Game 163 showdown between the two teams.

Saturday, 2008 October 2 – a scintillating finish to the regular season ensued in a dramatic Game 163, where the Paris Forfeiters, led by ace Kyle Katarn, faced off against the Tokyo Samurai’s emerging rookie Felix Andrade, who only picked up a starting spot in the rotation in mid-August.

Despite facing a harrowing lineup featuring THREE .500 sluggers, Andrade kept his composure, shutting out the Forfeiters and carrying a 2-hitter through the first 7 innings. But after a couple of leadoff hits and a sac-fly score in the 8th, things started to unravel for the young rookie as the Forfeiters put 3 runs on the board. Katarn, the reigning Pitcher of the Year, closed things off easily, throwing a 4-hit shutout over 8+2/3 innings before being relieved for the final out.

With the final game in the books, the Paris Forfeiters notched themselves 2nd place in the World Cities Division, granting them a date with the deadly Brandon Wroten-led Nikon Vibration Reducers.

Matchups

Round 1: Asia Giants (73-89) vs. Daly City Montis (141-21)

A rematch of 2007’s divisional matchup, in which the Montis swept the Giants 4-0. The regular season series finished 22-3 for Daly City, which doesn’t also doesn’t bode well for Asia. On the bright side, the Giants squad is fully intact this year, with a formidable hitting core of Benjamin Trepanier (.326-.494-.591), Alex Quiros (.308-.400-.618), and a healthy Tom Clark (.318-.399-.569), who was injured 5 days before the playoffs last year and missed the series. Their pitching, unfortunately, is in disarray, ranking near the bottom of the league with a 5.53 ERA, and only one decent starter in lefty workhorse Eric McCutcheon (14-10, 4.40 ERA, 1.31 WHIP).

Prediction: Daly City, 4-0

Round 1: Europe Cricketeers (74-88) vs. Mozilla Firefoxes (80-82)

Mozilla’s hopes of going far this postseason rest mainly on the arm of ace Robert Kroger (18-11, 3.36 ERA, 1.02 WHIP), who finally finds himself in his first playoff berth. Closer Thomas Yon came into his own this year, coming in 2nd in the league with 34 saves and a 2.70 ERA. On the offensive side they’ve got 1B Mack Nimmons who blossomed into a Batter of the Year caliber star this year, hitting .300-.378-.576 and knocking in career highs of 44HR/117RBI.

Despite being the division winner, the Cricketeers are at a notable disadvantage, having overplayed their true performance massively (+10 games over their Pythagorean record, more than double the second-luckiest teams). They were not just the worst offensive team in the postseason, but were actually LAST in the league offensively with just 710 runs scored, with longtime catcher Rolland Hochstetler getting nearly no support (their average team line was .247-.301-.402, easily worst in the league across all 3), and trot out a set of forgettable starters.

Prediction: Mozilla, 4-1

Round 1: Pentax Shake Reducers (78-84) vs. Las Vegas Valleys (99-63)

The Shake Reducers will try to make amends for their disappointing 2007, where they missed their shot at the World Series after dropping a command 3-1 lead in the Shinto-World League series, with the bullpen wasting a godly performance by 4-time Batter of the Year Gates Skywalker. They mostly return their same core as last year, with 1B Barney Raymo (.300-.350-.577) batting cleanup and ace Augusto Figueroa hoping to lock down his starts.

They’re facing a stiff new challenger in the Las Vegas Valleys, who exploded to a +15 win improvement this year and were the 2nd best team in baseball after the Montis. The Valleys were boosted hugely with the signing of third baseman and leadoff hitter William Fludd, who boasted a .416 OBP this year, and their young pair of aces in Larry Belton and Joseph Moster coming into their own. This will be perennial Batter of the Year bridesmaid Richard Eager’s first trip back to the playoffs since 2005, when they were knocked out 1-4 in the divisional series against the Canon Image Stabilizers (Skywalker’s then-team).

The Shake Reducers pack the star power with the best starter and by far the best batter in the galaxy, but the Valleys have established a solid depth all season long. In a 7-game series, star heroics could make this anyone’s win!

Prediction: Las Vegas, 4-2

Round 2: Paris Forfeiters (86-77) vs. Nikon Vibration Reducers (86-76)

Paris has the closest thing to a lock-down ace in this half of the league in Kyle Katarn (led the SWL with 13 CG’s and 6 shutouts), but the bad news is that they spent Katarn’s first start on the Game 163 play-in to get here. The Forfeiters’ pitching staff is an absolute mess after that – the remaining rotation are running in 5-6.00 ERA range, and the bullpen hasn’t fared much better, with 41-year-old closer Garfield Yocom clearly showing his age(4.03 ERA and 8 blown saves on the season). They’ve still got the brilliant on-base machine SS Lamont Sanchez (.317-.440-.552), but will need to rake in at least 2 non-Katarn starts to help out their awful pitching.

The Vibration Reducers meanwhile will hope to hammer the Forfeiters into… forfeiture. 1B Brandon Wroten has been a star for years but reached another level in 2008, obliterating 61 home runs (the first ever 60HR season by someone not named Skywalker), with a .317-.415-.698 line. Though a regression from his BotY-caliber 2007, Maul Foundation (.322-.358-.580) and 3B Joseph Harmon (.333-.388-.506) will supplement the lineup, and hopefully keep things competitive for a ho-hum pitching staff.

Prediction: Paris, 4-2

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