Magic bounce back with sweep of EA
ROLLING PRAIRIE- The Maple City Magic faced off with Rolling Prairie's Emery's Army for the first time in ORWBL play since 2017. While it may not be the biggest rivalry in the sport, there is no denying that these 2 teams have a bit of history together. Let's revisit.
Back in 2011, the Maple City Magic had just joined the league in-season as an expansion team, inheriting an 0-9 record left by the Mill Creek Minutemen franchise. The inexperienced Magic team made their ORWBL debut against EA at The Grassy Knoll and struggled mightily as Rolling Prairie welcomed the Magic to ORWBL with a sweep.
Fast forward to the 2011 Hometown Days Tournament where a much lower seeded Maple City team was set for a revenge game against Rolling Prairie in the 7:00 AM first round matchup.
Unfortunately for Rolling Prairie, Jake Lawrence was the lone EA player to show up as this would end up being one of those years where Rolling Prairie was not able to field a team on Sunday after having a long Saturday Hometown Days experience wink wink.
The Magic won by default which would then lead to a brief argument in the parking lot by Rolling Prairie's Jake Lawrence and Maple City's Cody Ward. Things carried over to their next ORWBL series where Lawrence and Ward continued chirping at each other out at Enzo Park at Minich Farms, the original home of the Magic.
Maple City's "Blue Monster" fence nearly toppled EA's Eric Johnson after a big gust of wind sent the massive piece of wood flying! Johnson proceeded to hit 6 Home Runs over the monster throughout the rest of the series.
After 2011 however, these two sides were able to patch things up and have since had great relations together while their series has become one of the more fun ones to be a part of.
After Emery's Army disbanded for the first time in 2016, the Magic brought on Eric Johnson who played a huge role in leading Maple City to a World Series appearance before getting swept by New Carlisle.
EA returned in 2017 ending Johnson's first stint with the Magic. Rolling Prairie hosted Maple City that year and actually were able to take 1 from the Magic despite playing with 4 players and a dog in right field.
After EA disbanded once more, Eric Johnson returned to Maple City, this time bringing fellow EA member Ryan Murphy as well. You know the rest of the story as Maple City won the World Series, clinching Johnson and Murphy their first ever ORWBL titles in what have been 2 long illustrious ORWBL careers.
As the Magic and EA were about set to go on Sunday, Johnson and Murphy were presented with their 2019 ORWBL World Series rings. Both with 10+ years of ORWBL experience, this was certainly a great moment for both of them.
Shortly after that, both teams took the field ready to resume their series which dates back to 2011. In Game 1, Maple City struck early, scoring 4 runs in the 1st inning off of Lawrence. That would be all the run support that the Magic would need as Shane Anderson continued his fantastic start on the mound this season.
Anderson allowed 2 runs (a Danny Hernandez 2 run shot) on 5 innings work while picking up his 3rd win of the season. Greg Gierling made his season debut as he came in looking to pick up his 1st career save. After a couple of crafty hits by Rolling Prairie, the Magic lead was cut to 3 with the tying runner on deck.
The Magic stuck with Gierling who stayed composed and was able to get out of the jam, forcing a fly out to center field to seal the deal. At the plate, it was Wes Ellis and Caleb Jonkman who both went 3-5. Ellis led the way with 3 RBI's.
In Game 2, Maple City once again jumped out to an early lead, scoring 5 runs over the course of the first 2 innings. Wes Ellis had himself a nice bounce back performance on the mound after an abysmal Week 2 outing vs. County Line.
Ellis allowed only 1 run over 5 innings of work, picking up his 2nd win on the season. Ellis also helped himself out at the plate, going 4-5 with 2 runs scored. George Stainko also picked up a 3 hit effort in Game 2 in what was a great season debut for Stainko all around.
The Magic called on Greg Gierling's name once again as he made quick work of Rolling Prairie in the bottom of the 6th, clinching his 2nd Save of the series as well as a series win.
The Magic rolled out "The Horse" George Stainko for the series finale. Like Games 1 & 2, Rolling Prairie struggled to get much going for most of the game.
However, they did respond in the bottom of the 3rd as Jake Lawrence unloaded, sending a 2 Run shot through the harsh wind and over the fence. EA would go quite from there up until the 6th.
In Game 3, the top of the Magic lineup shined as Caleb Jonkman, Jared Jonkman, and Wes Ellis each went 3-5, combing for all 8 runs. Jared Jonkman hit his team leading 16th Home Run in Game 3 while Wes Ellis hit one for the road in his final at bat.
Greg Gierling was called on yet again to close the door but EA threatened this time loading the bases before Maple City could get an out. Manager Alex Friedman made the switch to Shane Anderson who got out of the bases loaded jam only allowing only 1 run which was charged to Gierling.
All in all, it was a great week for Maple City who really needed a strong bounce back performance after dropping 2 of 3 on ring day vs. County Line. The Magic were able to cycle in 9 guys throughout the series which is something that they have not done much of the past 2 seasons.
More importantly, they were much sharper on Defense after an uncharacteristic sloppy week 2 performance.
Despite the wind blowing straight in from start to finish, a few players were still able to put together productive days at the plate.
Former AL MVP Caleb Jonkman had himself a quite but productive 9-15 day with 3 runs scored as he jumps back atop the Magic in Batting Average. Jared Jonkman was able to power out 2 Home Runs adding to his total of 16 on the season.
Wes Ellis looked much more like the Wes Ellis that we have come to know as he went 10-15 with 2 HR while leading the team in Runs (7) and RBI (6). George Stainko also had himself an impressive season debut, going 6-14. If he can continue to do that, he will add to the many options that Friedman will have come playoff time.
Maple City (7-2) will return home as they will host the Flat Rock Cyclones (8-1) in what will be a battle for 1st place in the American League.
While Rolling Prairie was not able to pick up a win, they have to be encouraged with how Ryan Murphy hit the ball. Murphy began getting crafty with the ball in Game 3 as he finished the series an impressive 6-11.
Outside of Murphy, there was not much else to be excited about for EA. Jake Lawrence and Danny Hernandez were able to hit a Home Run which was no shallow feet considering the tough conditions.
EA's young up and comer Brady Burnett showed signs of progression as well as he went 5-12 at the plate, showing that he can be valuable even with the wind howling in.
It doesn't get any easier from here for Rolling Prairie (2-7) as they will travel to New Carlisle to face off with the Newts (9-0) on Saturday Night Wiffleball at Migley Field. This will conclude what is arguably the toughest 9 game stretch any ORWBL team has ever had to face.
That stretch includes the Granger Panthers, Maple City Magic, and New Carlisle Newts who are currently a combined 25-2. Yikes. However, you can throw all records aside when the Newts and Emery's Army meet up as it is THE original ORWBL backyard rivalry.
Despite sitting at 2-7, EA is only 2 games back of 3rd place in the top heavy National League. With that being said, if Rolling Prairie can pick up a little momentum vs. New Carlisle, EA could be a very dangerous team throughout the 2nd half of the season as they will be playing the bottom half of the National League.
This is a group of established veterans so it just seems way to early to count these guys out. Expect EA to come out of the gates hot on Saturday as they are hungrier than ever for a win over New Carlisle.