The six teams that will be competing for the 2016 OCWA Championship gathered for a dress rehearsal this past Saturday. The All Star Tournament featured some new faces, returns of veterans, and a winner not named the Freaky Franchise. Here are the team-by-team recap as well as the awards:
1. Crazy White Pitches 6-1, 8 pts.
The White Pitches decided it was time to get serious and went with a two-man lineup for the first time this season. The duo of Roeder and Coyk had a prior commitment in the morning so they were forced to play five straight games during the hottest part of the day. This clearly wasn’t an issue for them as they went 3-1 in their four pool play games followed by a first round victory over the Franchise. Two more wins over the Crush and Papa Jack’s gave the Pitches their first tournament win of the year and a cool $160 in their pockets. Look for the Pitches to stick with the two-man lineup in hopes of staying hot heading into the postseason.
Standout Player - Chris Roeder: 37/56 (.661), 17 HR, 32 RBI, 1-1 record, 4.57 ERA, 0 K’s
2. Papa Jacks 5-1, 7 pts.
Manager Jon Suhre may have pulled off the signing of the year when he added OCWA veteran Don Sutton to the Jacks roster. The four year hiatus clearly didn’t bother the man known as “El Duque” as he went 6 for 9 with 3 home runs and 12 RBI in his first game back. Suhre and Papa Bush continued to mash all day and led the Jacks to a 4-0 pool play record and the #1 seed going into the single elimination segment of the tournament. The momentum from a walk-off win in the semifinals just wasn’t enough as the Jacks fell to CWP in the finals by a score of 13-5. The 5-1 record on the day was by far the team’s best performance of the year and showed that they are a true contender for this year’s title.
Standout Player – Don Sutton: 25/41 (.610), 6 HR, 20 RBI, 0-0 record, 4.50 ERA, 1 K’s
3. Caledonia Crush 3-2, 5 pts.
The core of Regis Pollard and Cody Hammond showed up on Saturday with some slick new US Soccer-esque jerseys as well as a new teammate. Mike Anderson added a solid bat as well as some good fielding range to an already dangerous Crush team. It was no surprise to see the Crush start strong en route to a 3-1 pool play record and yet another first round bye in single elimination. If it weren’t for a red-hot CWP team, the Crush would have been cruising to their fourth straight finals appearance, dating back to last season. The Crush have by far the best ERA in the league, sitting over 2 runs below the next best team. If these guys can get in a groove at the plate they should be well on their way to an appearance in the OCWA Championship.
Standout Player – Regis Pollard: 19/32 (.594), 8 HR, 21 RBI, 3-2 record, 4.60 ERA, 13 K’s
4. Crazed Loons 2-4, 3 pts.
Loons manager Josh “Pete” Ciolek brought back Chris Sacheli for his second event of the year as well as adding OCWA vet Dave Erb. The combo of Sacheli and Erb proved to be a tremendous help as their bats led the Loon Squad to their first two wins of the season. Erb also found his groove on the mound late in the day as he developed a knuckleball that consistently found the zone. Sacheli was able to add in some FOY-level fielding to go along with Pete’s ever-improving play in all aspects of the game. The Loons were two outs away from a trip to the finals and proved that facing them is no longer an easy W. It sounds like Pete will be bringing back the same team for the playoffs and with a crazy triple elimination format, anything can happen.
Standout Player – Dave Erb: 26/39 (.667), 5 HR, 11 RBI, 1-2 record, 6.81 ERA, 9 K’s
5. Pavlov’s Dawgs 1-4, 2 pts.
The Dawgs had missed the previous two qualifying tournaments, so playing in the season finale was a must in order to be eligible for the postseason. After making it to the championship game of the Opening Day Tournament, the Dawgs put up a disappointing 1-3 pool play record followed by a first round single elimination exit. The team seemed out of sorts as Knill was coming back from injury and Benzing showed up late due to his boss’ inability to recognize the importance of wiffleball. Chainzz has one of the best pitches in the league in a lob ball that nearly hits the crossbar almost every time he throws it. Pair that with Benzing’s ability to turn a double play from anywhere on the field and Knill being a doubles machine and you could have a championship upset in the making.
Standout Player – Dylan Frankel: 19/41 (.463), 6 HR, 21 RBI, 0-4 record, 10.42 ERA, 1 K’s
6. Freaky Franchise 0-5, 1 pts.
With the absence of Justin Tomkins, Bush looked to his girlfriend in hopes of gathering enough points to earn a precious first round bye in September’s playoffs. O’Shea spent most of her time on the mound and was a solid bat in the Franchise lineup, hitting over .300 on the day. Even though she was a solid replacement, it’s safe to say Tomkins’ spot in the lineup isn’t in jeopardy. Bush was able to keep the Franchise in some of the games with his bat, but eventual managerial mistakes led to some late-game follies in pool play. The two-man combo of Bush and Tomkins was 2 for 2 in taking home the cash in the qualifying tournaments, and they’re expecting nothing less in the OCWA Playoffs.
Standout Player – Ryan Bush: 31/47 (.660), 15 HR, 32 RBI, 0-1 record, 8.50 ERA, 2 K’s
AST Awards Ceremony:
MVP – Chris Roeder: 37/56 (.661), 17 HR, 32 RBI, 1-1 record, 4.57 ERA, 0 K’s
Pitcher of the Day – Tim Coykendall: 5-0 record, 4.20 ERA, 12 K’s
“Rookie” of the Day – Don Sutton: 25/41 (.610), 6 HR, 20 RBI, 0-0 record, 4.50 ERA, 1 K’s