LCS' Matchups Set as Panthers, Meatspins, Truffle Butter, And Magic Advance Out of LDS'
The ORWBL Postseason resumed on Sunday after taking the previous week off for the Hometown Cup. Just like the Wild Card Round, each League Division Series' was a Best of 3. Let's get right to it as we recap each NLDS and ALDS matchup starting off in the National League.
#4 Glen Lee Skeeters @ #1 Granger Panthers (NLDS Best of 3)
GM 1: GR, 16-8
GM 2: GR,12-9
For the 2nd straight season, the Glen Lee Skeeters and Granger Panthers met up in the NLDS Best of 3 Series. Just like last year, the Skeeters were coming into this one fresh off of a postseason win over the historic New Carlisle Newts franchise.
While the Skeeters came into it with high hopes, the defending World Series champs jumped out on top early as they put up 16 runs in the opener. The Panthers were relatively in command for the majority of Game 1 but Glen Lee would not go down without a fight.
The Skeeters ended up scoring one more run than they did in the opener but it would not be enough as the Panthers offense put up twelve runs as they closed the door on Glen Lee's season for the 2nd consecutive year. While Glen Lee's season came to an end, it is safe to say that this group made the leap that many people were expecting.
They saw Kade Stone blossom into an ORWBL star as he was their anchor both at the plate and on the mound. Bryce Lesher proved to be a great power hitter as he took part in the ORWBL Home Run Derby representing Glen Lee. Nolan Crail also made some great strides as he finished 2nd in the National League Comeback Player of the Year vote.
You can only expect the young Skeeters to continue to improve as they have one of the largest rosters in ORWBL featuring many bright young players. Manager Peyton Doran has built a great franchise as this is a really tight knit group that is still yet to enter their Wiffleball prime years.
For Granger, they will now shift their focus to the ALCS where they will take on the Meatspins for a 2nd consecutive year. They took down Mishawaka three games to one in the National League Championship Series last season before going on to win their first ORWBL World Series title, sweeping the Maple City Magic four games to none. Granger is seeking their 3rd World Series appearance in what is now their 6th year in the league.
The champs have looked great so far here in the Postseason as they look to defend their World Series crown. They will head to Rose Park for Games 1 and 2 of the NLCS on Sunday before the series shifts to Snead Field shortly after the conclusion of Game 2.
#3 Mishawaka Meatspins @ #2 Twin Branch Billy Goats (NLDS Best of 3)
GM 1: MM, 20-4
GM 2: MM, 8-5
The Mishawaka Meatspins made the trip to The Goat House to take on the Billy Goats with a trip to the ALCS on the line. Mishawaka wasted no time getting going as they dominated Game 1 from start to finish as they won the opener by the score of 20-4.
The entire Meatspins lineup was hitting on all cylinders, providing their ace Anthony Rieff with more than enough run support. Mishawaka's defense continued their stellar play as they only allowed 4 runs in Game 1 while allowing just 5 in Game 2.
While Game 2 was much closer than the first, the Meatspins offense was able to do enough to pick up the two game sweep, winning the 2nd game by the score of 8-5. After putting together a fantastic regular season in which they finished 22-8, Twin Branch's 2022 campaign comes to an end but not before returning to form as one of the top teams in the league.
They picked up series wins over both the Panthers and Magic as they were the only team in the league to do so. They showed the ability to beat any team on any given day as they looked like the Billy Goats team that made back to back League Championship appearances in their first 2 seasons in the league. They struggled mightily in 2020 and 2021 but they have now moved past that stretch.
The addition of Tony Koch added a lot and if they are able to keep the core together, expect Twin Branch to make a run at the pennant next season. On Tuesday, Koch was announced as the 2022 National League Comeback Player of the Year as he helped the Billy Goats return to form.
As for Mishawaka, they will now look to get some revenge on the Granger Panthers who eliminated them in the NLCS last season. The fact that they won Game 1 by 16 runs tells us that the Meatspins are playing their best wiffleball of the season at the perfect time. Although they fell just short of a trip to the World Series last year, they are hoping that the addition of Austin Traxler along with another year of playing together will help put them over the top this time.
#4 Mill Pond Pink Pandas @ #1 South Bend Truffle Butter (ALDS Best of 3)
GM 1: SB, 11-10
GM 2: SB, 8-6
Moving over to the American League, we saw the 4th seeded Mill Pond Pink Pandas travel to Payton's Yard to take on the top seeded South Bend Truffle Butter. Mill Pond came into this one as a heavy underdog but they came prepared to take down the top seed.
Game 1 was a tight affair as the Pink Pandas took the lead into the bottom of the 6th inning where they needed 3 outs to close out the upset in the opener. Enter Kyle Gagliardi who made a name for himself in their Wild Card Round as he belted 3 Home Runs in both of their wins over OTF. He was the catalyst all day long as he led the Truffle Butter to victories in both games.
Gagliardi continued his Postseason success as he hit a walk-off Home Run that sent the fans at Payton's Yard into a frenzy. That was his 3rd consecutive game here in the postseason with 2+ Home Runs as he has really stepped up for South Bend. While Gagliardi delivered the big swing in the opener, it was Josh Trim who led the charge as he smashed 5 HR in the win. Brandon Terry and Walter Griffin III each added a HR in the win as well.
After suffering a heartbreaking loss in Game 1, Mill Pond had to quickly shift the focus to Game 2 with their season on the line. They fell behind 8-3 but fought back within 2 runs which is ultimately as close as they would get. South Bend completed the two game sweep picking up another narrow 8-6 win over Mill Pond.
While Pink Panda players and fans are disappointed that their season has come to an end, they have to be feeling extremely proud about how they performed in their 2nd year in the league. This team went 7-23 in their inaugural campaign last year and saw their win total skyrocket to 16 in 2022. This is still one of the youngest teams in the league so the fact that they were able to put together a 16 win season in year two should tell you that the future is very bright over in Mill Pond. They picked up a Wild Card Round series win over the 5th seeded Wildcards in front of their home fans which ended up being a memorable day for the franchise that was capped off with a Zach Christy walk-off Home Run.
They saw guys like Andrew Karsten and Zach Christy cement themselves as some of the top young stars in the league while Aaron Hogan and Todd Snyder provided breakout seasons. On Tuesday, Hogan was announced as the 2022 American League Comeback Player of the Year Award winner after making incredible strides from his Rookie season. They also built a brand new home field in The Panda Den as that has quickly turned into one of the top ballparks in the league.
As for South Bend, they will now prepare for the American League Championship as they will take on the Maple City Magic whom they took two out of three from early on in the season at Payton's Yard. Games 1 and 2 will be played at Magic Park on Saturday before the series shifts to Elkhart on Sunday. They will look to become the first American League team that isn't the Magic since 2015 to reach the World Series.
#3 Maple City Magic @ #2 Cityless Wiffle Dees (ALDS Best of 3)
GM 1: CL, 21-12
GM 2: MC, 13-12
GM 3: MC, 7-3
After sweeping the Magic on the final week of the regular season, the Wiffle Dees were able to snag the #2 seed from Maple City. That meant that if both teams were able to take care of business in the Wild Card Round, the series would instead be played at The Garage. Considering Maple City finished the season with an 8-7 record on the road on top of the fact that they struggled to hit at The Garage, both teams knew that home field advantage would be very important.
The Wiffle Dees' regular season success against Maple City carried over into the opener as they put together a Game 1 drubbing of the Magic in which they led 21-7 at one point. Cityless ended up trouncing the Magic 21-12 in a final score that looked even closer than what it was which was an old fashioned beatdown.
The entire Dees lineup continued to hit homer after homer with the wind howling out while Maple City just could not put it together against Kadin Abegg. The energy on the Dees' sideline was through the roof as they carried all of the momentum heading into Game 2, just one win away from ending Maple City's 6 year run atop the American League. Maple City turned to Jared Jonkman with the season on the line but he was quickly removed in favor of Wes Ellis after allowing 5 early runs.
Cityless jumped out to an 11-3 lead after two innings as things could not have looked more bleak the Magic. They had been outscored 32-15 over the first 8 innings of the series. That's when the Magic started to chip away at the lead as they scored 5 runs in the 3rd to pull within 3. Wes Ellis held Cityless scoreless in the 3rd before Kadin Abegg blanked Maple City in the 4th.
Cityless was not able to take advantage of that as they were once again held without a run. While the wind was howling out in Game 1, things had died down quite a bit with a gentle rain falling upon The Garage throughout the course of Game 2. A Caleb Jonkman solo shot in the 5th brought the Magic within two runs before Ellis blanked the Dees' offense yet again in the 5th. The Dees' took a 2 run lead into the 6th inning where they were 3 outs away from eliminating Maple City. Magic skipper Alex Friedman decided to pinch hit himself for Erik Detmar to lead things off for Maple City with their season hanging in the balance.
Friedman led off the inning with a Home Run to pull the Magic within one as the Maple City sideline erupted. Wes Ellis singled before Caleb Jonkman singled to put runners on 1st and 3rd with only one out. Abegg retired Drew Luther but was able to bring in the tying runner on a grounder to right field as Alex Friedman came back up to the plate with a runner on and two outs. That's when Friedman delivered the big swing of the game as he belted the go ahead Home Run that would put Maple City up 13-11. Abegg was then able to retire Ellis to end the inning as the Magic needed three outs to force a decisive Game 3. Ellis was able to retire the first two batters before a JP Kehoe HR pulled the Dees' within one. Tyler Shupert reached on a Maple City error as Garrett Ruiz came up with a chance to send the Dees' to the ALCS. After an intense battle, Ruiz flied out to Left-fielder Jeremy Ross as Maple City was able to fight back to force a Game 3.
By the start of Game 3, there was very little wind blowing as each team struggled to get the bats going early. JP Kehoe put the Dees on the board in the bottom of the 3rd as he hit a solo HR to take a 1-0 lead. Abegg held the Magic scoreless in the 4th before Ellis held the Dees without a run in the bottom half. That's when the Maple City Magic put together their big inning. Jared Jonkman hit a 2 run HR to put Maple City on top 2-1. A Drew Luther two out triple brought Magic skipper Alex Friedman to the plate as he looked to provide some insurance. Friedman delivered another big swing as his 2 run HR put the Magic up 4-1. Wes Ellis, Jared Jonkman, and Caleb Jonkman followed him up with Homers of their own as the Magic went back to back to back to back to complete their seven run fifth inning.
That is all Maple City would need as Ellis closed the door on the Wiffle Dees' season after allowing two runs in the 6th as the Magic picked up their 3rd come from behind win in the playoffs by the score of 7-3. For Cityless, it was definitely a tough way to go out as it looked as though they were going to roll over Maple City yet again in Game 2 after trouncing them in the opener. All in all, this was one of the more entertaining ORWBL Playoff Series while it was the only LDS' matchup to go the distance. While that was not the ending that they had hoped for, the Wiffle Dees still put together a phenomenal first season as a franchise in ORWBL. Dees' rookie Brayden Ruiz was named as the 2022 American League Rookie of the Year on Monday as he was one of many reasons why Cityless won 22 games.
As for Maple City, they are now moving onto the American League Championship Series once more where they will look to win their 7th consecutive AL Pennant. They will host the South Bend Truffle Butter at Magic Park on Saturday for Games 1 and 2 of the series with first pitch slated for 1:00pm ET.