Maple City rolls through Mishawaka en route to 5th straight ALCS appearance
LA PORTE- The 2020 ORWBL Postseason kicked off on Sunday with all 14 teams in action at four different sites across the league. Let’s take a look at what happened over in the Maple City Region as the top seeded Magic hosted a Wild Card game before their American League Division Series.
The Wild Card game featured two teams who had been heading in opposite directions to close out the regular season. After winning 11 of their last 12 ball games, the Bourissa Hills Wildcards came into this one as hot as any team in the league.
Meanwhile, the Meatspins dropped 7 of their final 9 games after starting the season 9-6. These two teams met up earlier in the year in Mishawaka as the Meatspins took 2 out of 3 to close out the first half of the season.
That was actually the final series that the Wildcards would end up losing in 2020 before finishing 11-1 over their next 12 games on the road. Playing as the home team in this one, the Wildcards hoped that their luck would turn after going 2-10 at The Palace.
The Meatspins had quite the trip to make to Magic Park on Sunday as their whole team had to drive from Milwaukee to LaPorte in the morning after their skipper Ryan Warmoth’s bachelor party.
Despite the long road trip, Mishawaka came out of the gates hot as they used some small ball along with a couple of Wildcards errors to plate 3 runs in the 1st off of starting pitcher Evan Layman.
Bourissa Hills struggled to get their bats going early as the deficit grew following a Grant Duncan two RBI double aided by some more fielding errors.
The former Cabo Yabos Manager Grant Duncan continued his success as the game went on as he hit what seemed to be a game clinching 3 run HR. Duncan finished the game with 5 RBI’s to lead the Meatspins hitting charge as he put together a memorable playoff performance.
Trailing 11-3 heading into the bottom of the 6th it seemed as though the Wildcards season was about to come to an end. However, the Wildcards rallied together knowing that this was their last shot.
Cody Carlisle got things started with a solo HR that seemed to provide a much needed boost to the whole team. DJ Hill and Alan Amendt each added a solo HR as well as the Wildcards comeback train was officially rolling.
Now trailing 11-7, the Wildcards had a man on as the momentum had shifted entirely in favor of Bourissa Hills. After yet another base hit, the Meatspins tossed the ball around as one man came around to score on the play.
Unfortunately for the Cards’, Mishawaka was able to regroup and make a fantastic play as they were able to peg Alan Amendt who was trying to take 3rd base. You could feel the life sucked out of the Wildcards as they now faced a 3 run deficit with only 1 out left to work with.
Meatspins pitcher Nick Thoman settled down after their defense made the 2nd out as Thoman was able to shut the door on Bourissa Hills’ comeback attempt.
The Wildcards showed tons of poise in this one as they refused to go down without a fight. Unfortunately for them they were not able to recover from a couple of early defensive mistakes.
While the Wildcards season ends in a tough fashion, there is no doubt that it was a season to remember. After starting the season 2-10 at home, this squad went 11-1 on the road while also boasting two American League All Star starters.
Their highlight of the season was certainly a 3 game sweep over the New Carlisle Newts at Migley Field as that sweep propelled the Wildcards to an incredible 2nd half run. Bourissa Hills finally has the bragging rights over their crosstown rival and can enjoy it for the rest of the year.
This team had their first winning season since 2010 when they were still playing as the Bourissa Hills Pterodactyls. Their remarkable turnaround certainly has their Manager Zach Rehlander in the hunt for AL Manager of the Year after bringing All Star DJ Hill into the fray towards the end of last season.
Rehlander is not the only Wildcard in the hunt for some regular season awards as Evan Layman has hopes of winning the American League Cy Young while Rookie DJ Hill put together an incredible rookie season that had many campaigning for him to win the American League MVP vote.
Despite only playing in a couple of series last season, Hill did not reach the minimum at bats to qualify for Rookie of the Year, opening the door for him to win it in 2020 with a full year’s worth of action.
While the Wildcards impressive season came to an end, Mishawaka looked to follow up their first ever postseason victory by ending Maple City’s reign atop ORWBL.
Maple City came into this one riding high fresh off of their 1st ever Hometown Cup championship win in which they beat members of this Meatspins team representing Granny’s Quilt.
Hoping for some revenge, Ryan Warmoth led things off with a base hit as that would end up being their only base runner in the game. 2020 Hometown Cup Kaylor Award winner Wes Ellis picked up right where he left off, tossing a 1-hitter as Maple City jumped out to a 1-0 series lead after a 7-0 Game 1 victory.
For Maple City it was the top of their order who carried the load in this one. Former MVP’s Caleb Jonkman and Wes Ellis combined for six of Maple City’s seven hits in the game as they combined for all seven Magic RBI’s.
Caleb Jonkman finished the game 4-5 with 3 HR & 4 RBI as he got the scoring started early with a leadoff HR. Wes Ellis helped himself out by adding 2 HR of his own on top of pitching a shutout.
In Game 2, Ellis continued to shut down the Meatspins lineup as the Magic took a 2-0 lead heading into the 3rd inning. Things finally started to click for Mishawaka as they hit a couple of homers to take a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom half of the 3rd.
After scoring 2 runs in the 3rd, Maple City took a one run lead heading to the 4th. Ellis held the Meatspins scoreless before Maple City broke things open over the course of the next 2 innings.
2020 American League Most Improved Player of the Year award winner Bronson Severs entered the game for Alex Friedman in the 4th and kick started a 6 run 4th inning as he slapped the ball on the ground setting the tone for the rest of the team to try the same.
Severs kick started yet another Magic rally in the 5th as Maple City’s spark plug used his speed to his advantage, running the bases with grace while forcing a couple of Mishawaka throwing errors.
Caleb Jonkman had to love Severs getting on base in front of him like he did as Jonkman continued to terrorize the ball, finishing the game 5-7 with 3 more HR, 6 RBI, and 5 Runs scored. Wes Ellis and Jared Jonkman each added a solo HR but Maple City would end up doing most of their damage via small ball and base running.
After a 7 run 5th inning, Maple City had broken things open, holding a 17-3 advantage heading into the top of the 6th.
The 3x defending World Series champs turned to their team leader in Saves, Greg Gierling to push them through to their 5th straight American League Championship appearance.
Mishawaka's lineup was able to plate one run across as Nick Thoman hammered a solo HR to cut the deficit to 13. Erick Mentock and Grant Duncan both reached base safely before the calm and composed closer got World Wiffleball Hall of Famer Joey Shuster to ground out. It was a special moment for Maple City’s closer recording his first ever postseason save on his birthday!
The Meatspins had their moments in 2020 but seemed to run out of gas after such a long and eventful weekend in Milwaukee. They were still able to pick up their first ever playoff win despite running on fumes which is something that they can look to build off of next year.
As for Maple City, they are now just 3 wins away from returning to the World Series for a 5th consecutive season in hopes of winning their 4th straight ORWBL title.
Things will not come easy for Maple City however as they are set to square off against the 2nd seeded County Line Kings who sent the Magic their only series loss of the season back during their home opener.
Following that series loss, Maple City went on to win both their first ever Cam Snead Tournament and Hometown Cup while also finishing the ORWBL regular season 16-2. County Line has been red hot since that series as well by also going 16-2 over that same stretch. Both of these teams are red hot but something has to give on Sunday out at the new and improved Magic Park.
These two sides have had their fair share of back and forth jawing throughout the summer as it felt like these two teams were on a crash course all season long to meet up in the ALCS, and here we have it.