Four Walk-Off Home Runs And Rieff's Perfect Game Highlight Exciting Wild Card Round
The 2022 ORWBL Playoffs kicked off on Sunday, July 24th with all 18 teams in action. The #8 and #9 seeds in each league squared off in a one game play-in while the rest of the matchups were best of 3 series' as this is the first year with our new playoff format. The newly named Wild Card Round did not disappoint as there were four total walk off Home Runs that advanced their respective teams to the next round. The Wild Card Round also gave us a Postseason perfect game as Mishawaka's Anthony Rieff blanked the Knights in their series clinching victory. Let's go around the league to see how each Wild Card Round matchup finished up.
National League Play-In Game: #9 Lynn Street Leprechauns @ #8 Scottsdale Sluggers
GM 1: SD, 8-7
The National League Postseason kicked off with the Play-In game between the Sluggers and Leps with the game being played at Snead Field. As expected, this one was a back and forth affair but it was the higher seeded Sluggers that came out on top following an 8-7 win. Lynn Street's Levi Miller did everything in his power to help his squad advance but he was not able to get enough help from the rest of the lineup. For Scottsdale, they were able to pick up their first postseason victory since returning to the league as their loaded lineup of solid hitters did just enough to come out on top. With the win, Scottsdale advanced to take on the top seeded and defending champion Granger Panthers in the Wild Card Round.
National League Wild Card Round: #8 Scottsdale Sluggers @ #1 Granger Panthers
GM 1: GR, 7-1
GM 2: GR, 8-3
The 2021 ORWBL World Series Champions began their postseason quest for a repeat as they hosted the Scottsdale Sluggers in the Wild Card Round. Three time NL Cy Young winner Griffin Smith held the Sluggers lineup in check from start to finish as the Panthers defense continued to provide their ace with lockdown defense. Arguably the top defensive team in all of ORWBL, Granger allowed just four runs against a Sluggers team that has shown the ability to pop off at any time. For Scottsdale, their first season back in ORWBL came to a close but they were able to pick up that win over the Leps. Meanwhile, Granger followed up their Wild Card Round win by winning their 2nd Hometown Cup as they now sit atop both ORWBL and the Hometown Cup. Granger will look to keep their title defense rolling in the NLDS against the Skeeters who they eliminated in the same round last season. With Granger now sitting atop both ORWBL and the Hometown Cup, if they are able to defend their ORWBL title, it will be safe to say that the Granger Panthers have officially taken over Wiffleball!
National League Wild Card Round: #5 New Carlisle Newts @ #4 Glen Lee Skeeters
GM 1: NC, 4-0
GM 2: GLEN, 1-0 (FINAL/7)
GM 3: GLEN, 3-1 (FINAL/16)
For the second consecutive year, the Glen Lee Skeeters and New Carlisle Newts met up early on in the Postseason. Last year it was Glen Lee who got the best of New Carlisle in the winner take all Wild Card matchup in our previous playoff format. If it was the same format as last year, New Carlisle would have advanced to the next round after a 4-0 win in the opener. However, with the new format, Glen Lee got a chance to come back from a 1-0 series deficit. In Game 2 it was Glen Lee who picked up a walk-off win as it was Jason Migas with the game winning single in the 7th inning. That set up a decisive Game 3 that once again went to extra innings. If you recall, these two squads played in the longest game in ORWBL history earlier this season as Glen Lee picked up the win in a 27 inning instant classic that completed Glen Lee's first ever ORWBL sweep. This game had a similar feel to it as these two teams were tied heading into the bottom of the 16th. That's when National League All Star Kade Stone became the hero as he hit a walk-off Home Run that sent the Skeeters onto the National League Division Series. For the 2nd straight season, Glen Lee has now eliminated the historic New Carlisle Newts franchise. Just like last year, the Skeeters will now take on the Granger Panthers in the NLDS Best of 3 Series as the Skeeters will look to shock the Wiffleball world.
National League Wild Card Round: #6 Kingsbury Knights @ #3 Mishawaka Meatspins
GM 1: MM, 1-0
GM 2: MM, 2-0
Hitting conditions were rather unfavorable as the 6th seeded Kingsbury Knights traveled to Rose Park to take on the 3rd seeded Mishawaka Meatspins. Reigning Cy Young winner Anthony Rieff has made remarks all season long about how he believes he has the best defense behind him. Rieff's words surely rang true against Kingsbury as the Knights struggled to get much of anything going in their first ever playoff series. In Game 1, Kingsbury strung a few hits together but they were never able to plate a run as one run is all Anthony Rieff would need. Mishawaka was able to score a pair of runs in the 2nd game and that too was all that they would need as Rieff and the defense behind him put together a postseason perfect game to clinch the series win. All in all this Mishawaka team has one of the best defenses in the country and they will now shift their attention to the Twin Branch Billy Goats who they will take on in the NLDS. As for Kingsbury, their inaugural season comes to a close but not before they were able to make a huge name for themselves. These guys proved to be a very good team with an extremely bright future. Manager Cam Bashaw did a phenomenal job building his team and with young sluggers like Sam Bull, and Adin Newman along with a quality pitching option like Jared Michael as the future is bright in Kingsbury.
National League Wild Card Round: #7 Hudson Lake Heat @ #2 Twin Branch Billy Goats
GM 1: TB, 13-12
GM 2: TB, 14-6
There were many people who put the Billy Goats on upset alert in this one after Hudson Lake's strong finish to the season. Things were heading in that direction for the Heat as they held a lead over Twin Branch heading into the bottom of the 5th in Game 1. It was Goats' skipper Andrew Doran who came up with the big hit as his go ahead three run Home Run would put Twin Branch up for good. That had to be a deflating blow for Hudson Lake as they were oh so close to snagging Game 1 on the road. In Game 2, NL All Star Jake Lawrence took the mound as the veteran did a great job limiting the Hudson Lake offense as he allowed just 6 runs. The Goats stayed consistent in Game 2 as they ended up scoring one more run than they did in Game 1. Twin Branch completed the two game sweep over Hudson Lake as they will now shift their focus to the NLDS where they will host the Mishawaka Meatspins in what should be a must watch series that has the potential to get a bit chippy.
American League Play-In Game: #9 Warren Desparados @ #8 Crown Point OTF
GM 1: CP, 6-4
The American League Postseason kicked off with the Play-In game as the 9th seeded Warren Desparados took on the 8th seeded Crown Point OTF at Payton's Yard in Elkhart. After becoming the first team in ORWBL to go winless since Phat Dong, the Desparados came into the postseason still in search of the franchise's first victory. Warren held a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the 6th as they were just one out away from picking up that elusive first win. With a runner at second with two outs, Crown Point hit a catchable pop up that ended up falling in for an RBI base knock as OTF tied the game at 4. Crown Point's Isaiah Williams wasted no time as he sent the first pitch into the neighbor's yard at Payton's Yard as Crown Point picked up their first ever Postseason victory. With the loss, Warren ended their inaugural season with an 0-31 record while OTF advanced to take on the top seeded Truffle Butter.
American League Wild Card Round: #8 Crown Point OTF @ #1 South Bend Truffle Butter
GM 1: SB, 13-5
GM 2: SB, 6-5
After their exciting Play-In game victory over Warren, Crown Point looked to keep the momentum rolling against the top seeded Truffle Butter. South Bend was able to take control from the start as they ran away with Game 1 by the score of 13-5. You would expect that with South Bend's loaded lineup it would have been Ryan Galiher, Brandon Terry, or Walter Griffin III to lead the charge but it was actually notable contact hitting machine Kyle Gagliardi leading the way for South Bend. The contact hitting machine brought his power bat to Payton's Yard on that day as "Gags" led South Bend to victory with 3 Home Runs. Brandon Terry and Walter Griffin III hit a pair while Ryan Galiher and Ian Garavalia added one. It was the "Gags" show yet again in Game 2 as he hit three more Home Runs as that propelled South Bend to a narrow 6-5 win over OTF. Ryan Galiher and Walter Griffin III each added one HR as they needed all that they could get in a tight one run ballgame. The ORWBL Postseason always provides us with great storylines and it was South Bend's Kyle Gagliardi who made a name for himself in the Wild Card Round. If Gagliardi is able to continue playing like that, South Bend is going to be even tougher to beat in August. South Bend will now advance to take on the 4th seeded Mill Pond Pink Pandas in the ALDS Best of 3 Series.' As for Crown Point, their 2nd season in ORWBL came to a close but not before they picked up their first ever postseason win in dramatic fashion. It is also worth noting that David Ooms worked his way back from an early season knee injury to compete with his guys to close out the season in a feel good story.
American League Wild Card Round: #5 Bourissa Hills Wildcards @ #4 Mill Pond Pink Pandas
GM 1: MP, 14-9
GM 2: BH, 14-13
GM 3: MP, 8-7
It is finally time to talk about the Mill Pond Pink Pandas who you saw in the picture at the top of the article. The second year squad put together a winning season after a tough first year in the league in 2021. There were many Pink Pandas players who made a huge leap on the field this season as those guys were able to provide All Stars Andrew Karsten and Zach Christy with the help that they needed. The Pink Pandas closed out the season playing their best ball of the year as they kept that momentum rolling into Game 1. Mill Pond picked up their 2nd postseason win as they took down the Hudson Lake Heat in the Wild Card game last season. With their backs against the walls and facing elimination, the Wildcards came to play in Game 2 as they narrowly escaped Mill Pond, 14-13 forcing a winner take all Game 3. The finale was a back and forth affair as Mill Pond had a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the 6th. It was who else but Zach Christy as his walk-off Home Run sent the Panda Den into a frenzy. The Pink Pandas sealed the deal on the Wild Card Round series win in epic fashion as the Wildcards season came to an abrupt ending. While it was a disappointing end to the season for the Wildcards, the guys over at Mill Pond have to be feeling very good after taking down the more experienced team in which many people had picked to win the series. All in all, it has been a fantastic second season for Mill Pond who is now one of the final eight teams remaining in ORWBL. They will have an incredible opportunity in the ALDS to shock the Wiffleball world as they will take on the South Bend Truffle Butter who finished with the top record in all of ORWBL. One thing is for certain and that is the fact that his Mill Pond team believes that they can be the giant killers in the NLDS.
American League Wild Card Round: #6 Green Stem Great Lakes Godfathers @ #3 Maple City Magic
GM 1: MC, 3-0
GM 2: GSGL, 3-1 (FINAL/9)
GM 3: MC, 2-1
The Green Stem Great Lakes Godfathers traveled to Magic Park for the best of 3 Wild Card Round on a day in which the wind was howling straight in at Magic Park from start to finish. Wes Ellis took the mound for the Magic as he shut out the Godfathers in the opener. Maple City's Erik Detmar was the key to victory for Maple City as he went 3/4 with an RBI and a Run. Things were going just as expected in Game 2 as well as the Magic held a one run lead, just three outs away from advancing to the ALDS. With a runner at 3rd and 2 outs, the Godfathers hit a what would be game ending pop up to Shane Anderson who dropped the ball in foul territory. That gave the Godfathers life and they made the mistake hurt as they tied the game with a single. The score remained tied at one in the top of the 9th and it was who else but 2021 NL MVP Andy Sieradzki who came up with the big hit. He powered the go ahead Home Run through the wind as the Godathers bench erupted. They were not done there however as they were able to use small ball to add an extra insurance run. Tommy Sinkiewicz held the Magic scoreless in the bottom of the 9th as Green Stem Great Lakes picked up their first ever win over the Maple City Magic. The Godfathers had all of the momentum heading into Game 3 and they were even able to jump out on top early as they took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Their lead remained in tact heading into the bottom of the 3rd as Maple City was down to their final 12 outs. With the Godfathers nearing what would have been the greatest upset in ORWBL playoff history, Maple City knew they needed to get on the board quickly. Bo Hofstra picked up a lead off single in the 3rd before Alex Friedman hit a pop up past the pitcher that fell in for a hit. Hofstra took two huge strides before the big fella' slid in safely at 2nd. Erik Detmar once again came up with the big hit as his RBI double tied the ballgame up at one. Maple City's Wes Ellis and Green Stem Great Lakes' Tommy Sinkiewics then held the other side scoreless in the 4th and 5th as it was all tied up heading into the 6th. The Magic defense held the Godfathers scoreless as Maple City was just one swing away from surviving an immense scare. It was the OG HR guy Wes Ellis who blasted the walk off Home Run through the wind over the right-center field fence as the Magic narrowly survived the Godfathers upset attempt. All in all, the Godfathers gave Maple City everything that they could handle. Andy Sieradzki proved to be a guy that can carry a team on any day while the rest of his teammates all played a huge role as well. For Maple City, they will head back to The Garage where they were swept on the final Week of the season as they will look to advance to the ALCS for a 7th straight season.
American League Wild Card Round: #7 Flat Rock Cyclones @ #2 Cityless Wiffle Dees
GM 1: CL, 11-1
GM 2: CL, 9-3
The Cityless Wiffle Dees stole the #2 seed from the Maple City Magic on the final week of the season as that paired them up against the Flat Rock Cyclones. Flat Rock was not able to replicate any of their success from their regular season win over the Wiffle Dees as they struggled to get much going offensively. The Wiffle Dees lineup remained hot as they rolled to an 11-1 victory in the opener. Tyler Shupert had a no hitter going into the 5th inning of the 2nd game before the Cyclones were finally able to plate three runs. Unfortunately for Flat Rock, that would not be enough as the Wiffle Dees offense did more than enough to win as they scored 9 runs in their series clinching victory. While Flat Rock's season comes to an end, the Wiffle Dees are now amping up for their ALDS matchup against the Maple City Magic. Although the Magic have won the past 6 American League Pennants, this Wiffle Dees team already knows that they have what it takes to end Maple City's run. They won three close ballgames at The Garage against them to close out the season and because of that, they will be hosting the series at The Garage. Cityless has already put together a great first season in the league but they now have the opportunity to end Maple City's run atop the American League. Expect The Garage to be rocking on Sunday as the Wiffle Dees have to be feeling confident about their chances.