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The 2007 Playoffs: World Series Recap

Game Recaps

27 October 2007 – After utterly dominating their league once again on both sides of the plate, the Daly City Montis roared in once again to the Fall Classic in what has for years been an annual victory march. Last year they went 8-2 in the postseason before their coup de grâce, a 4-0 sweep of the SWL Champion Pentax Shake Reducers, and the 2007 version of the Montis looked even more dominant, bashing their way to 1098 runs (besting 2nd place by 157 runs, after only leading by 28 the previous year) and allowing an anorexic 485 runs (440 earned) all year, for an astounding 2.68 team ERA in a year when the UL average was 4.94 (a team ERA+ of 184!).

Their opponents from the SWL side had a less glamorous road to the championship series. The Paris Forfeiters scored just 834 runs this season (7th out of 8 teams in the SWL), though they kept opponents to a SWL-low 784 runs (second in baseball to the Daly City), thanks largely to a rotation led by free agent import Kyle Katarn (who attained the first SWL Triple Crown after playing runner-up to Daly City pitchers in the UL league for years).

Game 1 started with a duel of star pitchers Yan and Katarn, almost certainly the Pitcher of the Year award winners for their respective leagues. Katarn gave up an early unearned run in the 3rd inning when second baseman Christian Lee failed to put away a 2-out grounder, allowing leadoff wunderkind Christian Ortiz to score. At the bottom of the 6th, Daly City slugger Francis Chen hammered a massive solo homerun to stake the lead to 2-0. The way Yan was pitching, Chen’s homer looked like the nail in the coffin – Yan had pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 15. But over the course of a barely-over-.500 season and a gritty 7-game series victory in the League championship just to get here, the scrappy Paris Forfeiters wouldn’t give up. In the eighth, rightfielder Willis Hoffman led off with a double, and just two batters later was driven in by a Shigemoto Noriyuki PINCH-HIT homerun that tied the game up. The Montis failed to score in the 8th, and in the 9th Yan ran into trouble again, giving up a leadoff triple to Anthony Reyes, who was promptly driven in by Lamont Sanchez’s single for the go-ahead run. Despite catcher Tina Quach earning herself a walk with 1 out to set up the tying run, the game was to end on a pinch-hit strikeout by Jonathan Chee. Katarn pitched brilliantly against a high-octane Daly City offense, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits and a walk over 8 innings, while striking out 8. Yan, in perhaps a more awe-inspiring but leaky performance, allowed 6 hits (4 going for extra bases) and 3 runs, despite striking out 18 batters and requiring just 9 outs from his fielders. It was his second loss of the season.

The Montis came roaring back with a vengeance in the next three games, winning by a combined score of 23-3. In an all-team effort, the Montis piled up for 44 hits, 3 walks and a combined line of .379-.388-.543 to back a dominant  trio of performances by starters Esguerra (1 run on 4 H+BB in 8 innings, 10 K’s), Chin (1 run on 6 H+BB in 8 innings, 13 K’s), and Zhao (1 run on 8 H+BB in 9 innings CG, 13 K’s). The Montis line up exacted a blistering revenge on Forfeiters ace Kyle Katarn in Game 5, ripping him for 14 hits and 9 runs in 7+2/3 innings in by far his worst outing of the season.

The Forfeiters would not go out so easily, however. Determined to win at least one on the last night of their homestand, leadoff CF James Talmage put on a 1-man show, stroking 2 doubles and a homerun in 3 hits to score 3 runs and drive in 4 himself, having a hand in 7 of the Shake Reducers 8 runs in their 8-6 victory. The young starter Alfred Vong was hit hard in this game, allowing 5 runs in 5+2/3 innings, and even closer Leong could not stop the bleeding – he gave up 3 more runs in just his 2nd appearance this postseason, driving up his ERA to a comical 33.76.

The Montis made things interesting in Game 6. Despite having both #1 and #2 starters Yan and Esguerra fully rested, the Montis manager instead trotted out long reliever Kelley Cox, making just the 2nd starter of her young career. She was the most well-rested of anyone on the Daly City pitching staff, having pitched just a two-inning outing in the opening series against the Asia Giants. Still, it was a curious choice, considering that Cox had not fared well in her only other audition as a closer, a May start against the Caribbean Pirates in which she lasted just 3+2/3 innings and gave up 5 runs on 9 Hits+BB.

The move proved to pay off, however – Cox threw an understatedly dominant 8 innings, allowing just 3 hits, 2 walks, and a single run in by far the longest outing of her career. Unfortunately for Cox, the fairytale of clinching the World Series championship win in her first postseason start in her rookie season was denied by Paris starter Kenneth Price, who pitched an equally dominant 9 innings with just 6 hits, 1 walk, and allowing a single run, all in an efficient 102 pitches. Cox left the game in the 9th with a 1-1 tie, having thrown 116 pitches, yielding to closer Leong.

The stalemate went on for what seemed like forever – after a Francis Chen double to put him on base at the bottom of the 11th, the Montis passed up two potential chances to score – the first when Chen (speed 70/100) was stopped at third on a Derek Lew single to leftfield (not wanting to challenge LF Luciano Ferrant’s 91-rating arm), and another on Salgu Wissmath’s flyout to right (with RF Willis Hoffman’s 84-rating arm).

It was finally down to bottom of the 15th frame, with 2 outs in the bag. By this time, the Forfeiters had exhaused 3 pitchers and were on their 4th reliever, middle reliever Bobby Kantor. Josiah Leong, drawing from his experience as a converted starter, had muscled through an astonishing 7 shutout innings in relief, utterly dominating the Forfeiters to the tune of allowing just 2 hits, a walk, and a hit batter, while striking out 10 batters. With 2 outs against Kantor, RF Francis Chen, just 1 for 6 on the day, reaches base on a hit by pitch. With the aura of a man who’d been here many times before, Daly City all-time great Derek Lew strolled up to the plate.

Stepping up to the plate is… first baseman Derek Lew.
He is 2 for 6 tonight with a double.
There are two down, the count at 3 balls and zero strikes.
A walk here would bring up shorstop Salgu Wissmath.
Lew waits for the 3-0 pitch…
fastball…
Lew swings…
LINE DRIVE to left-center
a long run for Luciano Ferrant, but he’s got the stronger arm.
He is running fast…
it rolls to the wall…
Lew is heading for second…
and this time there is NO hesitation for Francis Chen, he is blazing past 3rd…
Chen slides, the throw will not be in time…
and Lew will have the game winner, the series winner with a stand-up RBI double!!!

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The 2007 Playoffs: League Series Recap

Game Recaps

The Longhorns weren’t quite the gimpy pushovers Daly City expected, taking over game 1 by jumping on Esguerra for 5 runs (though only 3 earned, the rest coming off of third baseman Salgu Wissmath’s fielding error).  Going into the bottom of the 8th, Daly City was down 2-4 when they began mounting a comeback, with a 2-out solo homer by DH Skyler Reid in the 8th inning, and a 9th inning rally that saw both RF Francis Chen and the tying run, Derek Lew, reach base, only to have Chen picked off the bag right before catcher Tina Quach hit a bases-clearing (and potentially game-tying) triple.  Alas, with only 1 run in, and a subsequent groundout by Wissmath, the game ended in a stunning 4-5 loss for the Montis, their first playoff loss since last year’s league championship round against the Longhorns.

The success would be short-lived for Microsoft, however, as Daly City proceeded to pounce on the notably feeble Longhorns starting pitching, who gave up 23 earned run on 41 hits and walks in just 14 innings over the next four games (a horrific 14.79 ERA and 2.93 WHIP).  The entire team had 213 plate appearances, notching an absurd .369-.404-.591 line over the 5-game series.  Of the 9 starters (min. 14 plate appearances), 7 had OPS greater than .900 (5 over 1.000).  Notably, Kuo, Wissmath, Lew, and Quach had huge series. Kuo slapped in 12 hits on 25 at-bats and was 4-for-4 stealing bases (though without any walks and just one extra base hit, for a .480-.480-.520 line); Wissmath accumulated a few less hits and a few more walks from the #2 slot behind Kuo to post a .381-.480-.524 line; Lew was the primary slugger, driving in a triple, homerun, and FIVE doubles in the short series to post a .391-.375-.826 line and tie for the lead with 9 RBIs; Quach was limited in her platoon duties with Paz but made the most of her chances, posting the best rate stats – .500-.571-.833 – in just 14 plate appearances.

While the UL series settled itself predictably, fans got the wild shootout they hoped for in the SWL, where the Pentax Shake Reducers’ mighty one-man offense duked it out with the overwhelming and deep Paris pitching staff.

The first two games went the Shake Reducer’s way, though they were close.  Game 1 started off with a slugfest, with the Forfeiters scoring all four runs off homeruns by 2B Christian Lee (solo homer in the 2nd) and SS Lamont Sanchez (3-run homer in the 6th). As so many teams have learned over the course of the season, however, it’s hard to win a slugfest against the Pentax Shake-Reducing Machine, who piled on all six of their runs off of FOUR homers to win the game.

Game 2 shifted the stage dramatically, with a looming pitcher’s duel between staff aces Kyle Katarn and Augusto Figueroa.  Katarn pitched well, holding Pentax slugger Skywalker to no homeruns and no RBIs for the first time this postseason, but his Shake Reducer counterpart Augusto Figueroa stole the show, holding the Forfeiters to just 2 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 10 en route to a brilliant complete game shutout.

Luck began to turn to the Parisian side in Game 3, where the slow and steady Forfeiters’ offense scored in all but two innings in the first six frames to race to build up a 5-0 lead, enough to withstand a 4-run 7th by the big-play Pentax offense (built mostly on a bases-loaded-clearing double by leadoff hitter Alberto Munoz).  Now for the second straight game, Skywalker was without either a homerun or an RBI, an uneasy sign for a Pentax team that had come to rely on his offensive production.

The Shake Reducers seemed to come to life after that loss however, with Skywalker and shortstop Noe Pessoa answering the call with a pair of homeruns each (five RBIs between them), to just edge out the Forfeiters 6-5 (though it was a game of blown opportunities for Paris, who got on-base 18 times compared to the Shake Reducers’ 6).

Faced with a comfortable 3-1 series lead, and needing to win just once in the next 3 games, things were looking swell for the Shake Reducers and Skywalker to return to the championship game.  But it would all come crashing down in the very next game, a rematch of the Game 2 pitcher’s duel between Kyle Katarn and Augusto Figueroa. This time the Forfeiters hitters were ready, and pounced on Figueroa for 11 hits and 3 walks over 7+2/3 innings.  Katarn, meanwhile, dominated the Paris offense in allowing just 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run in his 3rd complete-game victory of the playoffs, even shutting out Gates Skywalker (0-for-4) for the first time.

Game 6 featured another pitcher’s duel, this time between Rex White (1 run over 7+1/3 innings) and Warren Hobson, who after his embarrassing 7+2/3 inning, 13 on-base, 7-run loss in game 3, seemed to have figured out the Paris lineup, pitching 8+2/3 innings and allowing just a single run.

Down to the top of the 9th, with 2 outs and just the Paris leftfielder James Talmage left to close out the inning in a 1-1 tie game, Hobson finally ran out of gas, having thrown an extraordinary 143 pitches.  Yielding way to Pentax bullpen, the Frenchman Gary Manseau promptly gave up a single to put Talmage on base, prompting the call for closer Alva Bilbao.  Down to their last out, RF Willis Hoffman blasted a double to drive in Talmage and stake the Reducers to a 2-1 lead, which Forfeiters’ aging closer Garfield Yocum was able to close out for the save.

Finally, it all came down to the deciding Game 7. Facing the inconsistent Parisian Kenneth Price, who after his dominant 8-inning, 1-run opening victory against Tokyo had been bombed for at least 5 runs in his last two starts (losing both Games 1 and 4 in the series), Pentax jumped to a modest 5-3 lead after 6 innings, on the strength of another 2-run shot by Gates Skywalker at the bottom of the 6th to take the lead.  After giving up another hit (leadoff double by Noe Pessoa) to get into more trouble in the bottom of the 7th, Paris pulled the shaky Price for young sophomore reliever Bobby Kantor, who finished out the bottom of the 7th and 8th innings perfectly.

After using up all of Reinaldo Valdeluji for 7 innings and 127 pitches, Pentax finally brought the bullpen at the top of the 8th, starting the shaky Alexander Larson (5.36 career ERA), who promptly got himself into trouble with a walk and then a single to allow Willis Hoffman and Lamont Sanchez on-base.  With the go-ahead run now at the plate, the Shake Reducers brought out their second bullpen option, the similarly shaky Gary Manseau (5.17 career ERA). The results weren’t any better – Manseau gave up 3 more hits before he could close out the inning, staking the Parisians to a slim 1-run lead, and the Shake Reducers would not battle back after that.

Thus ended the latest run by Gates Skywalker, who tried to muscle his team into the World Series (he went .458-.490-.1.354, with 13 HR and 20 RBI in just 12 postseason games). But even his awe-inspiring output couldn’t stake the Shake Reducers to a lead they couldn’t blow – in total the Shake Reducer bullpen threw 5 innings in the series, with a 7.20 ERA, and 2.80 WHIP.

The theater of action now moves to the Universal Championship, with the potential to feature several epic pitching matchups between Daly City ace Yan, who has pitched two complete-game shutouts so far and has thrown 37 K’s in 18 innings while only allowing 4 walks, against the SWL’s best pitcher Kyle Katarn, who’s 3-1 in 4 starts with a 1.29 ERA and 0.69 WHIP in 35 innings (and has also gone 4 for 4 in complete games, one of them an 8-inning loss).

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The 2007 Playoffs: Divisional Series Recap

Game Recaps, Uncategorized

Saturday, October 9th – in a divisional series round with few tight races, things went even easier than expected for the favored teams. One series ended in  a sweep, and the three others went 4-1, setting up the earliest league series round (starting October 10th) in recent memory.

For a supposed pushover opponent, Game 1 of the Daly City Montis-Asia Giants series started off with a dramatic opener – Whitney Esguerra, leading off the series after #1 Starter Nathan Yan pitched the final game of the regular season, turned in a solid 2 run, 7+1/3 inning performance against the Asia Giants, striking out 7.  The prolific Montis offense, however, couldn’t quite get started against the Giants’ Ramon Obando , racking up only 3 runs through the first 8 innings.

With middle reliever Alvina Chu effectively handling the 8th, it was up to the erratic closer Josiah Leong to finish out the 1-run lead. Despite evolving into one of the most dominant closers in the league this season (his 2.09 ERA and 11.6 K/9 were both 3rd-best among relievers), Leong promptly imploded with a walk, two hits, a wild pitch, and two runs to give up the lead and throw the Montis into a rare do-or-die at the bottom of the 9th, down by a run.

Nonetheless, the Montis had reason to hope, with the core of their lineup coming up, starting with Reid-Kwong-Chen-Lew. The group went 2 for 4 to set up runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs, and then it was up to the feeble-hitting catcher, Tina Quach, to make things happen at the plate.

Strike 1, taken.

Strike 2, taken.

Then a diving split-fingered fastball, some hesitation, and a late swing.

Fouled off, just barely, dribbing in the dirt down the first base line.

And then like a Cinderella story gone terribly wrong, it all seemed to unravel  for the underdog Asia Giants.  Closer Pendergast issued four straight balls, to grant Quach a walk and load up the bases, and set up a final showdown against Daly City’s #8 hitter.

And for a game as dramatic as this, who else would be waiting on deck, in the 9th inning with two outs, but the legendary clutch hitter of storied postseasons past, Joanna Maung. Naturally, she loads up a full 3-2 count…

The count is 3 and 2…
Pendergast kicks and fires…
fastball…
Maung swings…
it’s lined
Simmons dives…
but he can’t get it…
Reid scores with the tying run…
Kwong is rounding third…
Batchelder throws home…
Beasley takes it…
Kwong slides…
it’s going to be close…
SAFE!
And the clutch hero Maung comes through yet again with a game-winning, 2 RBI single!

The rest of the series ended without too much fanfare – the versatile middle infielder Wissmath powered the offense in Game 2 with 2 hits, a walk, a homer, 2 runs and 2 RBIs, and a stolen base in 4 plate appearances from the 9-spot, as the Montis won a 6-2 game that was never much in doubt.

The Montis then closed the series out with dominating performances in games 3 and 4, with Yan pitching a 1-hit, 1-walk, 20-K shutout in game 3, backed by 12 runs and 21 hits and 2 walks in an offensive massacre.  The clinching game 4 ended 8-2, on the strength of a 5 for 5 on-base day for leadoff hitter Kuo (4 hits, 1 walk, 3 stolen bases, 3 runs) and 3 for 5, 4 RBI game for leftfielder Kwong.

There weren’t too many surprises elsehwere in the league, either.  Microsoft looked to be in dire trouble aftr their first game, when ace pitcher Kernel Tyranus (18-8, 2.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in the regular season) strained his rotator cuff after pitching just 2 outs into the 2nd inning, and the Carribean hitters feasted on the Longhorns bullpen to the tune of 22 hits and a walk in 47 at bats, including 6 doubles and 2 homers for an overall .468-.479-.723 day en route to 13 runs.

The Pirates seemingly spent up all of their offensive energy in that first game, and weren’t able to mount much of any offense thereafter, even against a Longhorns pitching staff ranked woefully below-average this season.  The fading Sherwood Bertsch, who mustered only a 5.01 ERA and 1.23 WHIP this season, kept the Pirates down to just 1 run over 7+2/3 innings. Willhuff Tarkin, who earned a 5.48 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in the season, then pitched a gem in a 5-hit, no walk, 1-run, 8+2/3 inning Game 3 performance.  And then lastly Eddie Castilleja (6.59 ERA, 1.62 WHIP in regular season), combined with relievers Ellsworth Hartzler (4.98, 1.26) and rookie reliever Miguel Ojeda (3.28 ERA, 1.35) for another 1-run performance in the game 4 win. The clinching game 5 was delivered by a fearsome hitting clinic put on by Jabba Desilijic Ture (3 for 4 with 2HRs, 3 RBIs, and 2 runs), but also came with a cost: #2 starter Sherwood Bertsch went down after just 3+1/3 innings with an inflamed rotator cuff, making him doubtful for the rest of the playoffs, and possibly putting down the Longhorns to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th starters of their already woeful staff.

League Series: Daly City Montis vs. Microsoft Longhorns

Even at full strength outset, this matchup would have been tough – the Longhorns might have hoped to hammer some of Daly City’s starters with their core lineup (the only one in the league with 3 hitters with a  > 1.000 OPS this season), but after losing their ace and only above league-average starter Kernel Tyranus, and then even losing their #2 starter Bertsch, it’s hard to imagine the Longhorns being able to do much at all to stymie the onslaught of a Montis offense that is firing on all cylinders, with four hitters (RF Chen, DH Reid, CF Kuo, and LF Kwong) with a divisional series OPS greater than 1.000, and an overall team performance in the first round of .354-.429-.524.

Prediction: Montis, 4-0

Over in the SWL, some analysts questioned how well Skywalker would produce in his first postseason stint with the Shake Reducers, and if it would be enough to propel the otherwise weak-hitting Pentax offense over the more well-balanced Nikon Vibration Reducers.  To the first question, as if it were anything but rhetorical, Skywalker raked the Nikon pitching staff to put up an incredible line: .550-.609-1.800, going 11 for 20 with 8 (EIGHT!) homeruns while driving in 14 RBIs and scoring 9 runs himself.  He homered in every single game of the 5-game series, hitting 2, 1, 1, 1 and 3 homeruns.

The second question is more vital to how far the Shake Reducers go this season. While Skywalker certainly led the way, Pentax piled on 41 runs in five games over the Vibration Reducers, who were no slouches as the 5th-best staff in baseball by ERA this season.  The offense was bolstered by a hot week by centerfielder Steffen Richardson (.400-.455-1.000 in driving in 10 RBIs and scoring 8 in 22 plate appearances) and 2B Joseph Thomason (.450-.500-.650 in 22 plate appearances), two players who didn’t show much offensive prowess during the regular season (.737 and .736 OPS, respectively).  If they cool off, and no one else heats up, things could get much more challenging for the Shake Reducers.

In a masterful demonstration of pitching dominance, Paris pulled off a dominant 4-1 series victory over Tokyo by allowing just 11 runs over 5 games – 2.2 runs per game, compared to 4.0 allowed by Pentax and 4.2 allowed by Microsoft in their 4-1 series victories. They were led by two dominant outings by ace Kyle Katarn, who pitched two complete games to go 2-0, 18 innings, 15 K’s, with a 1.00 ERA and miniscule 0.61 WHIP.

League Series: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Paris Forfeiters

The SW league series once again pits offensive prowess against dominant pitching, with baseball’s hands-down Batter of the Year, Skywalker, hoping to lead a one-man offense against a solid rotation led by the hands-down SWL Pitcher of the Year and Triple Crown winner Kyle Katarn.  While the Shake Reducers bashed the other side into submission and the Forfeiters mowed down the opposing offense, both dominated to similar degree – Pentax outscored Nikon 41-20 (2.05x, 0.808 pythag. win%), while Paris outscored Tokyo 21-11 (1.91x, 0.785 pythag. win%). The deciding factor may be Forfeiters ace Katarn’s limited schedule, having pitched complete games in both Games 1 and 4 of the division series, ruling him out for what may be a critical Game 7 third start.

Pentax: 4-3

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The 2006 Playoffs: League Series Review

Game Recaps

Friday, October 22nd – It’s been a rollercoaster ride the last ten days in the baseball world, as the powerhouse teams came together in the final four round.  The DC Montis against the M-Dollar Longhorns, and the Canon IS vs. the Pentax SR.

The bookies won little and lost big this round.  Heavily favored going into the series, the Daly City Montis swept past the #2 seed Microsoft Longhorns, outscoring the team from Seattle 28-13 to take the series in 5 games.  Daly City led off with a 9-0 shutout start by ace Nathan Yan, who pitched a gem of a 2-hitter, while Derek Lew provided the offense with a 4 for 5 game, hitting two solo homers, but dropped the next game behind an average start by Esguerra and a dominant 1-run start by Microsoft starter Eric Holl.

Tragedy struck game 3, as midway into the fifth inning, starter Terrence Zhao pulled a bicep tendon, taking him out of the game.  Alfred Vong finished the rest of the game out, which Daly City won 9-6.  Zhao, however, will be out for 1-2 weeks with the injury, taking him out of the rest of the playoff picture.

Samantha Chin pitched another strong game in Game 4, in which Daly City’s offense took care of the rest by slamming Microsoft ace Sherwood Bertsch for 13 hits and 7 runs.  By Game 5, it was all over, as the reborn Sean Wade took to the mound for another masterful start, throwing a complete game, 2-hit, 1-run gem to shut down the Longhorns 2-1.’Like the Galactic Colossus growing ever stronger with each new planet it consumes, the Montis seem unstoppable on its quest for a 4th straight World Championship. They’ll have a surprising opponent for the final round, however.

Originally picked to bomb out in the first round, Pentax, with a bit of luck, eeked into the 2nd round with a 4-3 series win over the Paris Forfeiters, who had blown a 3-1 series lead.  Facing the powerhouse Image Stabilizers, however, few gave them much of a chance.  True to form, the Image Stabilizers cleaned house with the Pentax Shake Reducers the very first game, obliterating them 15-2 behind a solid start by Justin Ramage and explosive by hitting from the 1-9 spots in the batting order.  The IS slipped the next game however – going into the 8th leading 5-4, the bullpen blundered and gave up two runs in the 8th and 9th, off solo shots by RF Simeon Sarvis and CF Steffen Richardson.  Interestingly enough, Gonzalo Bolanos once again pitched for the save.

The very next game, Canon was embarrassed 4-10, behind a near complete game by Augusto Figueroa and a couple of 3-4, 2HR, 4RBI games by CF Steffen Richardson and SS Noe Pessoa.  If Canon ever needed a wake-up call, it was then, and Justin Ramage stepped up to make it, bowling over Pentax with a 4-hit shutout in a scant 106 pitches, while Gates Skywalker brought the hardware with a two-homerun performance.

The surge, however, was momentary, as a Robert Bone implosion the very next game (7 runs and 12 hits in 6 1/3 innings) doomed Canon, no matter what 4-4, 2HR performance Gates could pull out that day.

As in any great back-and-forth matchup, Canon rebounded back to make it 3-3, with a 6-3 win in Game 6.

With the series and a shot for a 2005 World Series rematch on the line, the Image Stabilizers needed to bring it, and who else to have on the mound by ace Justin Ramage, who was almost single-handedly responsible for two of Canon’s three wins, and would surely be MVP of the series if he worked his magic to win 3 out of 4 wins for Canon.  Ramage pitched 7 innings, with 9 K’s and only 2 runs, and Gates Skywalker hit another homer for his SIXTH homerun in four straight games.  What nobody counted on was the game put on by 29-year-old Moises Silva, who in four postseason starts had gone 2-2 with a 7.11 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.  Silva brought the heat with an 8-inning, ONE RUN start, inexplicably besting Ramage and bringing the Shake Reducers to their first  WORLD SERIES!!

Round 2 was a round of what could’ve beens.  Microsoft lost two save-situation games, where the production brought by their slugger Jabba Desilijic Ture could’ve made the difference.  Microsoft’s #1 starter, Kernel Tyranus, and #2, Wilhuff Tarkin, could have also easily made up two or three games.  Similarly on Canon’s end, the team felt the absence of their #2 best hitter Francis Cote in their three save situation losses, as well as the two of their starters.

Canon’s Gates Skywalker, who blew away the league in the regular season with a 182 RBI, 146 Run, .350-.441-.891, 79 homer regular season campaign, and bashed away with a marvelous 27 RBI, 20 Run, 12HR, .467-.561-1.467 postseason (his run production alone outnumbers that of the entire Las Vegas or Pentax teams during their matches).  A free agent this year, Skywalker could very well move on to greener pastures, after two seasons without a ring in Canonland.

Looking forward to the World Series, 2006 seems to be another easy one for the Daly City Montis, who coast into this series outscoring their opponents 63-25 in the postseason (that’s 6.3 runs to 2.5 runs per game), while Pentax has stumbled along into two miraculous underdog 4-3 series wins, scoring 73-76 along the way (that’s 5.2 runs to 5.4 runs per game).  Yes, that’s right, Pentax has actually been outscored in the postseason, despite arriving at the World Series with the Shinto-World League pennant. 

Round 3, World Series: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Daly City Montis

The Daly City Montis come into this series like they came into the regular season – a so-so offense backed by a lights-out pitching staff.  This description may be more true than ever now, as Daly City has stumbled with poor performances by their top players, and has relied heavily on star performances from their light-hitting batters like Joanna Maung (.429-.489-.595) and Tiffany Ho (.488-.543-.683).

The pitching has been lights out, however.  Daly City’s starting five: 

Nathan Yan: 2-0, 0.50 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 16.5 K’s per 9
Whitney Esguerra: 1-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 10.9 K’s per 9
Terrence Zhao (injured, out for playoffs): 1-0, 2.38 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 8.7 K’s per 9
Samantha Chin: 1-0, 2.77 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 8.3 K’s per 9
Sean Wade: 2-0, 1.53 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 7.1 K’s per 9

The pitching has been so good, the bullpen’s barely been tapped at all, meaning Daly City has a well-rested reserve compared to Pentax.

Pentax’s star hitter Walter Vanish has been ailing so far, with a .236-.300-.382 line in the postseason.  They’ve been buoyed mostly by two very strong performances by RF Simeon Sarvis (.298-.386-.660, 14RBI, 16 Runs) and CF Steffen Richardson (.373-.439-.824, 16RBI, 12 Runs).  The rest of the lineup has been downright abysmal, and right now Pentax is relying on both of those players heavily to come up with some kind of offense.

Their pitching is worse than average, and while they have a clutch workhorse in Augusto Figueroa, who’s thrown 39 innings in 5 games this postseason, his ERA is still a middling 4.62.

Prediction: Daly City, 4-1

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The 2006 Playoffs: Divisional Series Recap

Game Recaps

Tuesday, October 12th – tensions are high on the eve of the league championship round of the 2006 Monti Bizarro Baseball postseason.  From eight teams down to four, the teams here are more evenly matched, and the stakes higher than ever.

As expected, both the Daly City Montis and the Microsoft Longhorns blazed past their Round 1 opponents.  Daly City was dominant with a set of five strong pitching performances:

Game 1, W8-3: Whitney Esguerra, 7 1/3 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits, 4 walks, 8 K’s on 108 pitches
Game 2, W6-2: Terrence Zhao, 7 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 1 walk, 7 K’s on 108 pitches
Game 3, W9-1: Nathan Yan, 9 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 1 walk, 19 K’s on 152 pitches
Game 4, L3-4 (12 innings) : Samantha Chin, 6 innings, 3 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks, 6 K’s on 96 pitches
Game 5, W9-2: Sean Wade, 8 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 1 walk, 7 K’s on 132 pitches

After being dominated for three games, the United States managed to avoid the sweep by mounting a stubborn upset bid in game 4 – they scored 3 runs on Chin, were held scoreless by Khan for 3 innings, but finally came away with the win in the bottom of the 12th inning, when third baseman Juan Truex hit a homer off of reliever Alvina Chu.  Nonetheless, Sean Wade came in Game 5 and dominated, carrying a shutout through 8 2/3 innings and winning the game.

Microsoft had a similarly easy time with the Asia Giants, winning the series 4-1.  They’ve been lead by a monstrous postseason run by SS Maul Foundation, who batted .579-.591-.842 with 5 RBI and 6 Runs in the five Round 1 games.  Staff ace Sherwood Bertsch, who was disappointing in the regular season, has stepped up so far in the playoffs, winning both his starts with a 2.25 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, going a long way towards compensating for the loss of SP Kernel Tyranus.

Over in the Shinto-World League, as expected the tight matchup between the Pentax Shake Reducers and Paris Forfeiters went down to the wire in a 4-3 matchup, in which FOUR out of the seven games were 1-run decisions.

Game 1 went into extra innings, as starter August Figueroa blew a 3-1 lead in the 8th inning, sending the game into extra innings.  Having thrown 141 pitches over 9 innings, many questioned the Pentax manager for leaving in his starter.  Going into extras, Paris DH Jeff Borum hit a HR off of Pentax’s shaky closer Gonzalo Bolanos in the 11th inning to take a 1-0 lead.

Things bounced right back to Paris’ court the next game, however.  Pentax SP Moises Silva was working on a 1-run gem going into the 8th with a dominant 8-1 lead.  Things started to fall apart, however, as Paris mounted a comeback bid, scoring 2 runs off of back-to-back Ernesto Monalto-Luis Sanchez homers in the 8th, and a BIG 4-run 9th inning, pulling them within 1 run.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.  Pentax’s shaky reliever Gonzalo Bolanos closed out the game and gave Pentax the win, despite giving up FOUR runs in the 9th inning.

Game 3 was another tight matchup, with Robert Arredondo pitching an edge-of-your-seats 7-inning, 3 run performance that took up 111 pitches and saw 9 hits and 2 walks (1.57 WHIP!).  2B Christian Lee provided all the offense they needed, however, with a pair of two-run homers to give Paris the 4-3 win.

Entering into Game 4 after three consecutive 1-run matches, everyone was expecting another tight game.  Instead, Paris surprised everyone, and the Shake Reducers most of all, by exploding for a 9-0 shutout win.  Christian Lee hit yet another pair of 2-run homers to lead the team again with 4 RBIs, but the story of the night was Paris’ phenom Rex White, facing Pentax’s ace Augusto Figueroa yet again and shutting down the Pentax offense with an 8 2/3, 0-run start.

At this point, Pentax was put into serious doubt.  Paris was hot off the heels of a 9-0 shutout performance, their best hitter was on a 4-HR, 8-RBI tear in the past two games, and their hero Augusto Figueroa had just suffered an embarrassing 6-run loss in one of the most critical games of the postseason.  With the momentum Paris had, there didn’t seem to be much hope for Pentax.  They turned to Moises Silva, who again broke out with a dominant start, bringing a 1-run game into the 8th inning.  With another commanding 6-1 lead, it seemed as if Silva had this game squarely locked up.  Paris rallied however, and at the end of the eighth had answered back with 4 runs to make it a 1-run game.  Turning yet again to Gonzalo Bolanos, the Pentax closer pitched a 1-2-3 9th for the save, ensuring Pentax would live to play another day.

Things began falling apart for the Forfeiters, who after Game 4 seemed to be in such a dominating position, with a 3-1 series lead.  Game 6 saw the utter implosion of the Paris pitching staff – starter Robert Arrendodo lasted only 3 1/3 innings and gave up 6 runs, and the subsequent relievers were equally abysmal, giving up a collective 7 runs over the next 5 2/3 innings.  The Pentax hitters had a field day, led by RF Simeon Sarvis, who had a 4-5 day with 5 RBI and 3 runs.  Pentax won the game 14-3, and all of a sudden the series was tied 3-3, and headed to Game 7.

Here it was, Game 7, and both teams were throwing out their best.  Pentax had their hero pitcher Augusto Figueroa on the mound, who had dominated before but definitely showed his age in the last matchup, where he gave up 6 runs.  On the visiting side, Paris had their 22-year-old boy wonder Rex White, who dominated Pentax the last time around with a near complete game shutout.  Things seemed to be going Paris’ way at first, when they scored 3 runs in the 4th, while White went into the 5th with another shutout bid at hand.  Things fell apart, however, as the Pentax hit hard with a 4-run 5th inning, and not letting up even after White had been taken out, tagging the Paris relievers for 2 runs each in the 6th and 7th.  At the end of the day, Paris was up 8-3, and Augusto Figueroa had a complete game victory, proving why he’s still one of the game’s best.

Although Canon’s 4-2 series win doesn’t show it, they were perhaps the most dominant team all the way through the first round.    Right out of the gate, they slammed down the Las Vegas Valleys on a 2-hit, 7 2/3 shutout start by ace Justin Ramage.  #2 ace Robert Bone picked up right where he left off with a dominant 1-run start for an 11-1 win.  Out of nowhere, however, the Valleys came back to win the next two games, both by 4-3, one run victories.  This apparently woke some sort of sleeping giant, as Canon exploded the next game with a 20-3 victory, with Skywalker’s 2-HR, 5RBI performance and SS Antonio Nevarez’s 5RBI day leading the way.  The Image Stabilizers wrapped up the series on a low-key 6-2 victory.

Round 2: Microsoft Longhorns vs. Daly City Montis
The top two teams in the league meet in perhaps the real world championship round.  Without Microsoft’s ace Kernel Tyranus and their slugger (and league HR leader) Jabba Desilijic Ture, this may very well be the match that could’ve been, but nevertheless Microsoft brings a strong lineup and a so-so pitching staff to the table.  Microsoft outscored Asia 28-19 in Round 1, while Daly City was 35-12, but Microsoft’s offense has looked unstoppable at times, with SS Maul Foundation (.579-.591-.842) and Boba Fett (.409-.409-.636) leading the way.  Daly City has been no slouch either, and despite their star hitter, Derek Lew, struggling at the plate (.182-.174-.364), other light-hitting members of the batting corps have been surprisingly good, including 3B Joanna Maung (.591-.625-.727) and CF Tiffany Ho (.565-.583-.870).  Surprisingly, or perhaps not, Daly City’s playoff hero has been Francis Chen, who is once again on his October tear with a .333-.444-1.067 performance, leading the team with 3 HR, 6 runs, and 7 RBI. Pitching-wise, the series is hands-down in the favor of the Daly City Montis, especially without Microsoft’s star (and #2 pitcher in the league) Kernel Tyranus.  Even Microsoft’s #1, Sherwood Bertsch, seems a shaky bet to be able to beat any of Daly City’s starting 5.
Prediction: Daly City, 4-2

Round 2: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Canon Image Stabilizers: In the David vs. Goliath battle out in the Shinto-World League, Canon seems to be firing on all cylinders after their dominating performances over Las Vegas.  Their 48-14 run differential in Round 1 was by far the best of any team, and it dwarfs the 41-36 performance by Pentax in the 1st round.  Pentax has a fleet of hitters firing on all cylinders.  However, the production from Canon’s Gates Skywalker alone (.450-.556-1.550, 14 RBIs, 8 Runs) nearly dwarfs all of them combined.  Pentax still’s got a fighting chance, however, with Canon’s all-world catcher Francis Cote on the DL, along with two of their starting pitchers.
Prediction: Canon, 4-2

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The 2005 Playoffs: World Series Recap

Game Recaps

22 October 2005 – It’s the start of the Fall Classic, and two rounds and three weeks of postseason play have pared down the competition to the final two, with no surprises – the regular-season leading Daly City Montis of the Universe League, and the Canon Image Stabilizers of the Shinto-World League.

Daly City rolls in with a pitching staff filled with top-flight starters that had faltered a bit of late – Nathan Yan had been rolling along, but Josiah Leong had been pounded, even more so than usual – four postseason starts, a 1-3 record, and not a single quality start. Things hadn’t been supremely better for Terrence Zhao – he pitched a decent 2-run, 6 2/3 inning start in his first start, but was then hit hard in his worst start of the season, a 12-hit, 3-walk, 7 run 6-inning outing against the United States. Zhao also faltered with a 3-run, 6-inning outing in the league series against Europe. Wade had been the only other starter with a decent playoff record thus far, throwing 3 quality start wins. With only half of their all-star staff running at full force, the previously unstoppable Daly City team began seeming vulnerable, just barely getting past the worst-seed United States in a full 4-3 series, and struggling for a 4-2 win over sub-.500 Europe.

Game 1 started with a well-rested Nathan Yan, on 5 days rest for the first time since July, getting the start against Canon’s #2 Max Allen. Canon jumped ahead with a run to lead off the 1st, one of the few times Yan had found himself behind early. Daly City bounced back, however, and on 2-4 days by Ortiz, Puzon, and Liu, and a 3-4 day by the resurgent Derek Lew, Daly City emerged with 6 runs on 10 hits, while Yan eked out a challenging 2-run start.

Game 2 was grittier battle. Josiah Leong made the start, but against the 6.21 ERA Mohamed Arthur, he was about evenly matched, with a 7.48 ERA of his own. The teams battled back and forth throughout the game – again Canon led off with a run in the first for an early lead, which was answered back by a 3-run 2nd inning, from a huge Sam Lau homer. Canon hit back with a huge 5-run 6th, however, putting Daly City in a 3-6 hole. Daly City hit back with a run in the bottom of the 6th from a Joey Wong HR. 3 more runs in the bottom of the 8th gave Daly City a tenuous 7-6 lead, and only 3 outs away from a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. By this time Samantha Chin had since replaced Leong, who had given up 6 runs in 5 2/3 innings, and she had pitched flawlessly for 2 1/3 innings so far. With one out in the bag, she yielded a run to C Francis Cote, and with Daly City unable to respond to the tie score in the bottom of the 9th, yielded another two in the 10th, handing Canon a 9-7 win and tying the series 1-1.

Game 3 saw Terrence Zhao matched up against the best pitcher from the Shinto-World league, Canon’s 20-year-old Justin Ramage, who had finished the regular season with a 24-3 record and a 2.48 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Based on Terrence’s shaky recent starts, the prospects didn’t look good. Daly City hit the Image Stabilizers early, with a Derek Lew HR and Mr. Nghe double to put the team up 3-0. Zhao was hit by Gates Skywalker’s 2-run homer, but managed to stave off the Image Stabilizers, going 7 innings and giving up 2 runs for the eventual 4-2 win.

Sean Wade pitched game 4, and right from the get-go, Daly City exploded – Derek Lew hit three doubles in a 3-4 day (although he didn’t driven in any runs), while Nghe and Lau both hit homers and Ortiz stole three bases. Daly City went on to win 9-2, on a complete-game win by Sean Wade, and with a commanding 3-1 lead, and Nathan Yan starting the 5th game, fate seemed all but certain.

Yan would pitch game 5, and with the entire Image Stabilizers team already demoralized beyond hope, Daly City trounced Canon to the tune of a 9-1 win, to win the series 4-1 and win the league championship (Their 3rd in 3 years of play).

Stay tuned for a report on the season awards, and a team recap!

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The 2005 Playoffs: Divisional Series Review

Game Recaps

10/10/05 – After 7 games, the divisional playoff round comes to a close, abound with some absolutely shocking results.

U.S. takes Daly City down to the wire in 3-3 showdown!
Perhaps the most heavily one-sided matchup in the playoffs, the Daly City team, bolstered by both the best offense and pitching in the league, got clobbered by the Patriots in game 1.  With ace Nathan Yan resting from pitching the last game of the regular season, #2 Josiah Leong took the mound against the Patriot’s John Coyer, a 10-14 starter with a 5.08 ERA and 1.44 WHIP over the regular season.

The results were disastrous – Leong took a heavy beating, giving up 4 runs in the 1st inning.  Meanwhile, the offense was unable to muster much of anything, going scoreless for the first 6 innings.  Leong appeared to take smooth control thereafter, but hit trouble again in the 6th inning – he gave up 2 runs of his own and 2 more on errors, allowing the U.S. an 8-0 lead. Daly City clawed its way back up to 6 runs, mostly on the strength of back-to-back homers by Joey Wong and Derek Lew, but ultimately fell short, suffering a shocking 12-6 defeat at the hands of the Patriots.

The next three games saw strong pitching performances from Terrence Zhao, Nathan Yan, and Sean Wade, who went on to lead the team to 9-3, 14-1, and 19-1 victories, putting them just a game shy of advancing to the next round.  Around this time, the offense also exploded, with huge games by Derek Lew, Rudy Puzon, Cristian Ortiz, and most surprisingly, Francis Chen.

With Josiah Leong up for another turn, the Daly City Montis suffered another lost, although this team Leong pitched a decent game, throwing 7 1/3 innings while giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks.  However, it was the hitting that did the team in – the Patriot’s Camilo Belmonte shut out the team, allowing only 3 hits and 2 walks, and emerging with an 0-4 win.

The next game, with Terrence Zhao pitching against the lowly Craig Oberle, seemed to be a lock.  Daly City jumped out to a lead early, scoring 5 runs in the first four innings.  The U.S. answered back with 2 runs, but scored FIVE more in the 6th, where Terrence Zhao got shelled by an Andrew Amey 2-RBI double and a couple of triples.  With Daly City down 5-7, they put in 2 runs in the 8th from an Aubrey Cubilo double and Joey Wong HR to tie the game up at 7-7, and bring the game into extra innings. Samantha Chin, who had come in after Zhao’s disastrous 6th, gave up a homerun in the 10th to Juan Truex, and as all seemed lost, Kelvin Chang is replaced with Sam Lau, who successfully draws a walk to first, and gets replaced by Cristian Ortiz.  Cubilo advances him to 2nd on a single, and they both double-steal to get on 3rd and 2nd.  With the game on the line, Francis Chen of all players knocks in a sacrifice fly to bring Ortiz home, and tie the game up.  Daly City is unable to score another run, however, and in the 13th the United States scores a run off of a William Brown double, giving the United States a 9-8 win in 13 innings, and just like that, tying the series up at 3-3.  With the team’s entire playoff hopes on the line, Daly City’s Nathan Yan steps up to the mound for game 7, delivering a beautiful 1-hit, 2-walk shutout for a 3-0 win, and moving Daly City (just barely) onto the league series round.

Over in the other Universe League series, Europe delivered not only a surprising upset over the Apple Septic Tanks, but swept Apple with a 4-0 series win.  Europe delivered on the pitching, with an excellent win by #1 Wilfredo Raposa, but also two solid starts by #2 Justin Pucci, who won both of his games and pitched 15 1/3 innings, with a 2.35 ERA and 0.78 WHIP.  Closer David Avila also pitched extremely well, closing out all four games while not giving up a single run.

Things were a bit more predictable in the Shinto-World league – with an absolutely abysmal performance by Richard Eager (.105-.227-.158, 2 RBI, 1 Run), Nikon could hardly muster any offense, and the Vibration Reducers lost the seriese 1-4.  The Tokyo-Paris game, as expected, was a tight one, which drew out into a full 7 game series, which included three 1-run games and an extra inning game that was won 12-3 on 9 Tokyo runs in the 10th inning.

The next series sees a Europe vs. Daly City matchup, and Paris vs. Canon matchup as we progress to the Final Four league series round.

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