2022 ORWBL World Series Preview
We are less than 24 hours away from Game 1 of the 2022 ORWBL World Series between the Granger Panthers and South Bend Truffle Butter. This will be Granger's second straight trip to the World Series and third all time in what is now their 6th season in the league. As for South Bend, this will be their first ever World Series appearance in what is only their 2nd season in the league.
After going 15-15 in their inaugural season, Manager Ryan Galiher made a huge splash in free agency over the offseason as he signed Josh Trim, Walter Griffin III, and Brandon Terry to the squad in hopes of turning South Bend into a title contender. All three additions meshed perfectly from the start as this team dominated teams from start to finish. Ryan Galiher, Brandon Terry, and Walter Griffin III all ended up putting together MVP caliber seasons while all three players represented the Truffle Butter in the ORWBL All Star Game.
With their big three leading the way, South Bend received more than enough production out of the bottom of their lineup all year long as guys like Ryan Voges, Jeremy Ratajczyk, Ian Garavalia, Kyle Gagliardi, and Tyler Walk provided everything that they would need. Meanwhile, Josh Trim ended up playing in all 30 games while also putting together the best hitting season of his young career. With so many different pieces at their dispel, South Bend was able to have their way with opponents while utilizing a two man pitching rotation of Ryan Galiher and Walter Griffin III.
They finished the regular season with an ORWBL best record of 27-3 and have since gone 7-1 in the Postseason. They did what they needed to do against Crown Point while they had to battle against a hungry Mill Pond team in the ALDS. While Mill Pond gave them all that they could handle, South Bend was able to escape with a pair of close wins highlighted by a Kyle Gagliardi walk off HR.
They dropped the first game of the ALCS to Maple City as that would end up being their only postseason loss heading into the World Series. South Bend was able to win Game 2 over Maple City as they captured all of the momentum heading into Sunday. They picked up right where they left off as they built an early Game 3 lead over the Magic. They ended up winning Games 3 and 4 by 1 run as their lockdown fielding was a big difference maker as they outperformed the Magic in the fielding department by a wide margin. Josh Trim delivered the biggest swing of his career as he belted the walk-off HR to clinch the victory in Game 3. Former Maple City World Series Champion Jeremy Ratajczyk did his part in Games 3 and 4 sending his former team packing.
For South Bend, beating Maple City was an incredibly huge deal as they now become the first American League team not named the Magic since 2015 to make it to the World Series. Back when they made the jump to the American League, their main goal was to end Maple City's run and now that they have successfully done that, the focus now shifts to knocking off the defending ORWBL World Series Champion Granger Panthers.
As for the defending World Series champs, they head into the World Series with a perfect postseason record of 7-0. Many expected that Mishawaka would make the NLCS a competitive series, but Granger's Game 3 come from behind win helped complete the three game sweep to propel Granger back to the World Series.
Before sweeping the Meatspins, Granger swept the Sluggers in the Wild Card Round and the Skeeters in the National League Division Series. Coming into the World Series fresh off of a commanding sweep over Mishawaka, it is safe to say that the Panthers are playing their best wiffleball of the summer at the perfect time. They have not slowed down one bit since winning their 2nd Hometown Cup title on the final weekend of July.
Panthers ace Griffin Smith won his record setting 4th National League Cy Young last week while their young outfielder Daivyn Davis won his first Gold Glove award. With Davis, Austin Williams, and former National League Gold Glove winner Seth Campbell running the show in the Outfield, the Panthers arguably have as good of a defense as any team in the country
Teams really have to work to score their runs against Granger as they simply do not give away runs for free. They have not played too many teams who have been able to hang with them defensively, but it sure looks like South Bend is prepared to go toe to toe with them in all aspects of the game. Due to Granger winning the World Series last year, we have to give them the upper hand in terms of experience as all of their players have come through many times during big moments.
Something that figures to play a huge role in the series is the fact that the Truffle Butter have home field advantage. This will be the first time that the two teams have met up this season so we do not have a sample size to look at. Payton's Yard has proved to give opposing teams fits while the Truffle Butter have really adapted their game well to dominate at their home park. It is certainly going to be a different feel for the Panthers players who have never played on that field before.
All in all, there is a lot of uncertainty heading into this World Series with this being the first time that the two World Series opponents have met up with each other. Both teams have shown to be the best team in their respective league from start to finish as this thing could truly go either way.
For Granger, they will look to become just the 4th ORWBL franchise to repeat as Champions as they hope to join the South Bend Sour Wowers (2010-2011), New Carlisle Newts (2013-2014), and Maple City Magic (2017-2020) as teams to do so. As for South Bend, they just became the 11th franchise in ORWBL history to reach the World Series while they are just four wins away from becoming the 8th different franchise to win the World Series title.
The 2022 ORWBL World Series kicks off on Sunday with Games 1 and 2 of the series at Payton's Yard. The series will then shift to Snead Field on the following day for Games 3, 4, and 5*. If necessary, the series will then shift back to Payton's Yard for its conclusion on Sunday, August 28th.