This is the third part of a six part-series highlighting each team in the OCWA and their season. In this installment, we cover the third place team in the OCWA, Take A Wiff Of This.
Chris Sacheli entered his second season as an independent manager not really knowing whether he was going to have anyone to play for him. He had a roster of 8 players, but three of them were at best substitutes, one was playing summer baseball, one tore his ACL, and the other two had been on and off throughout their careers. Many people thought that he would have a down year, but what he put together became a contending team, and a force in the OCWA.
Sacheli’s draft seemed to go very well. He got Matt Mika and BJ Turner, both stellar pitchers, and then picked up Josh Maves, who was a question mark. This team seemed to be one of the favorites right out of the draft, however, Mika announced that he would be playing baseball. Sacheli’s team would survive that blow, but lost depth. Then, BJ Turner tore his ACL in the offseason, which ended his chances of playing. With this blow, Sacheli’s team fell in the power rankings, and his season seemed to be doomed.
As the Opening Day Tournament came around, the team dubbed “Take A Wiff Of This” faced off against Chris Sacheli’s former teammate Colby Delaney and the Hairy Hoodlums. Free agent pick up Jamie Downs came to play for Sacheli, and he had a walk-off triple in the 10-7 win. They came into the next series against the Tampa Bay Turtles with momentum, but they couldn’t turn it into a win, going down in extra innings. They played surprisingly well, and picked up confidence that they would need to succeed during the season.
The team started off hot. With a core of Sacheli, Maves, and Josh Ludwig, the team carried seven of their first ten games. Sacheli played well, as usual, but the surprising factor for the team was the play of Josh Maves. Maves played a season that was considered by some players as MVP worthy. He rediscovered his pitching form, and made opposing pitchers fear his bat. Ludwig also pitched well and hit well, but did not play in very many games. This team had a lot of skill, but as easily as they rolled through the first part of the season, they struggled in the second half. They went 4-6 in the second half, including being swept by the Freaky Franchise twice and The Plainguys once. In spite of this, they played well, to the surprise of many. Maves was a major factor in the MVP discussion, but ultimately lost out. They planned on proving people wrong in the playoffs.
Because of the season forfeit of the Hairy Hoodlums, Take A Wiff Of This received a bye in the first round, and advanced directly to the semifinals. Unfortunately, their semifinal matchup came against the red hot Plainguys. They kept their series close, losing by one run in the first game. The second game started well for them, with Maves pitching rather well and hitting two homers, but the pressure put on by The Plainguys was too great, and they would lose again, this time by two runs.
Overall, the season was a success. Sacheli’s team overcame a tough offseason and made a run at a championship, but unfortunately, fell just short. Still, Sacheli liked his team, and decided to keep them mostly together for the upcoming season, along with adding Dave Erb. Will they be able to repeat last year’s success? Only time will tell.