MICHAWAKA- After dropping the first 2 games of the Best of 5 American League Championship at Magic Park, the 2 time defending champions headed into Sunday knowing that they would have to win 3 straight games at Twin Branch to keep their dreams of a 3-peat alive.
With the Goats 2 wins to open the series, they finished off the season with a perfect 5-0 record against the Magic so it was pretty safe to say that the odds were heavily in favor of the Goats winning their 1st ORWBL Pennant in what is only their 2nd season in the league (1st as a member of the American League.)
However, the Goats knew that the champs were not going to bow down without a fight. For most of Game 3, it was a back and forth battle until the Magic got some much needed Home Runs by Drew Luther and Jeremy Ratajczyk as Maple City took a 12-6 lead heading into the bottom of the 6th.
The Goats were ready to end the series right there as their bats got going as they reduced the lead to just 2 runs with 1 out. Lucas Olletti, Frankie Minerva, and Andrew Doran did what they could at the plate to try and bring them back. Unfortunately for the Goats, they fell just short, dropping Game 3 by the score of 12-10 to keep Maple City hopes alive.
Following suit from Game 3, the Magic went scoreless in the Top of the 1st while the Goats poured on 5 runs to take a 5-0 lead heading into the 2nd.
Drew Luther got things started for the Magic while Jared Jonkman followed suit as Maple City cut the lead to 2. It appeared as though the Goats were starting to catch onto Caleb Jonkman who was on the mound which led the Magic to put Shane Anderson on the bump.
Anderson tossed a critical scoreless inning as the Goats took a 5-3 lead into the 3rd inning. With Goats fans watching, they had to be feeling pretty good about their chances of ending the series as they were just 12 outs away.
And then, the Maple City bats started heating up like no other. Ryan Murphy got things going for the Magic as all five Magic players hit a Home Run in the 3rd as they put up a big crooked number of 8 runs. Anderson once again held the Goats to 0 runs as the Magic took an 11-5 lead into the 4th.
Over the next 2 innings, both teams scored 5 runs each as the Magic took a 16-10 lead into the 6th. Maple City left the door open for a Twin Branch rally as the Magic went scoreless in the 6th. Unfortunately for Twin Branch, they were only able to plate 1 run across as Maple City picked up a 16-11 Game 4 victory, forcing a decisive Game 5 with a trip to the 2019 World Series on the line.
Looking to become the first team in ORWBL history to come back from a 2-0 deficit in a Best of 5 series, all of the momentum was with the 2 time defending champs while the young Goats seemed deflated heading into Game 5.
Maple City put some serious pressure on the Goats early as they opened the game with a 7 run 1st inning. The Magic opted to hit Jeremy Ratajczyk for Shane Anderson while he continued to pitch on the mound.
Both Jonkman's, Luther, Ratajczyk, and Ryan Murphy absolutely exploded in Game 5 as they took an 11-1 lead heading into the 3rd.
The Magic bats stayed red hot as they took a 26-7 lead heading into the Bottom of the 6th as all 5 Magic hitters just kept hitting the ball over the fence. Twin Branch put up a 3 spot in the bottom of the 6th before Andrew Doran flew out.
Maple City became the first team to come back from a 2-0 series deficit in a Best of 5 series after Keigan White flew out to Drew Luther to seal the series comeback for the Magic. Ironically, the road team won every game between these 2 teams this year as the visitors went 8-0 which is very odd especially for 2 teams who normally have success at their home ballpark.
This was now the 2nd straight season that the Billy Goats fell just 1 game short of playing in the ORWBL World Series after losing 3 games to 2 in the NLCS to the Granger Panthers in 2018. After going 20-4 and earning home field advantage in the American League, the Goats season ended with utter heartbreak as they let their 2-0 series lead slip away to the 2 time defending champions.
Regardless, this young and talented group of guys have shown that they have what it takes to be a championship threat year in and year out and will surely use this heartbreak as motivation for the 2020 ORWBL season.
As for Maple City, they now head to their 4th consecutive World Series and 5th in franchise history as they have their eyes fully set on making ORWBL history as they look to become the 1st team to win 3 consecutive championships.
For the 3rd time in 4 years, they will square off against their rival New Carlisle Newts in what is looking like one of the more highly anticipated World Series matchups in ORWBL history as the Newts are aiming for a league high 4th Championship.
Meanwhile, the Magic are looking to repeat what they did in 2017 as they took down the Newts 4 games to 1 en route to their 1st ever World Series Championship. If they can win 4 more games, they will tie the Newts for the ORWBL lead with 3 Championships.
With so much riding on the line, this World Series figures to be one for the ages. Maple City will host Games 1 and 2 on Thursday night at 6:30pm ET.
The series will then shift to historic Migley Field on Sunday, August 11th at 1:00pm ET for Games 3, 4, and 5 (If necessary.). The series could then conclude at Magic Park on Sunday, August 18th at 1:00pm ET for Games 6 and 7 if necessary.
Saddle up for this one fans as this figures to be a dog fight all series long!