This is the second part of a six part-series highlighting each team in the OCWA and their season. In this installment, we cover the OCWA runner-ups The Plainguys.
At the end of the 2012 OCWA season, Plainguys captain Alex “Bacon” Barber was not pleased. In his first year as an unquestioned team captain, he had gone farther than any of his teams had before. His season ended in the championship, and a deflating 8-7 loss to the Freaky Franchise. His team was in it, all the way to the end. But he wanted more than that. He wanted his championship, and he came thisclose.
It all started when Bacon became a team captain after breaking away from Ben Brown’s Carols. His draft was superb, as he picked up superstar Chris Roeder, and key players Phil Limbeck and John Crean. He then joined the free agent feeding frenzy by signing Josh Best, Matt Roeder, Jared Toth, and Billy Annechino. Chris Roeder would end up playing baseball for a collegiate league over the summer, and could only come to a few games. Best and Toth would never play for The Plainguys, but even then, this would be one of the largest teams to ever see Bush Grapes Park, and also, one of the deepest.
The Plainguys would take an early exit in the Opening Day Tournament, as they were matched up with the Freaky Franchise. They took the game to extra innings, but were eventually smothered by the Franchise. Offered little chance to shine, opponents had no idea what to think coming into the regular season. The team was ranked very high in preseason projections, but what happened next, no one saw coming.
With Chris Roeder out, the team struggled mightily in the early season. Behind the core of Barber, Crean, and Limbeck, the team would lose its first six games, including four against the Freaky Franchise. With the team in despair, Chris Roeder came back to town, and the team won its first game, and would win again a week later. However, now sitting at 2-8, the season looked lost, and then, they found their spark. The team would rattle off ten straight wins behind the Roeder brothers, and would finish 12-8, good for the second seed in the OCWA Playoffs.
Getting the second seed meant having a first round bye, and they would face off against Take A Wiff Of This in the semifinal. Roeder would catch fire in the series, hitting two homers with nine RBI, all while not letting up any runs. They would win two very close games, and took the series in a sweep. This would set up a championship duel with the Freaky Franchise. The first game was close, but ultimately ended in a loss. Then, they rebounded in the second game, completely shelling the Franchise’s pitching, and handing them their only loss of the season, an 8-0 shutout. This game would set up a winner-take-all third game, and it was a good one. The Franchise jumped out to an early lead, but the Plainguys battled back, and with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth inning, two outs, and the score 8-7, Alex Barber would step up to the plate against Ryan Bush and… strikeout. The game, series, and championship were over, and the Plainguys became the runner-up.
Towards the end of the game, Bacon called time, and walked out to the pitcher’s mound. He greeted pitcher Ryan Bush, shook his hand, and then said, “This may be my last OCWA at-bat.” With those words, he implied his retirement from the game, and he would be the first major OCWA player to do so. Now the Plainguys are no more, with their former captain committing to a job in Boston for the summer, but he has not given up the game.In his departure, Chris Roeder stepped back into the captain’s seat, and gave Bacon a roster spot. This new team is an image of the Plainguys, but only time will tell if they make it to those heights again.