Granger Panthers Sweep Maple City Magic to Win First ORWBL World Series Title
The 2021 ORWBL World Series resumed on Saturday, August 28th as the Granger Panthers hosted the 4x defending World Series Champion Maple City Magic at Snead Field. The Panthers made a huge statement at Magic Park last weekend as they went in there and won both games to steal home field advantage.
Just two wins away from their first ORWBL World Series title, the excitement level at Snead Field was at an all time high. Game 3 started in similar fashion as the previous two games with the Magic going scoreless in the top of the 1st. The Panthers immediately put the Magic in a hole as they put up four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Griffin Smith picked up right where he left off on the mound as he once again contained the Magic lineup.
Through 3 innings, the Panthers had already taken a 12-3 lead as they were in command of that one from start to finish. A six run 3rd inning had Maple City chasing nine runs. The Magic once again went scoreless in the 4th and 5th innings while the Panthers added one more in the bottom of the 5th.
The Magic picked up a little bit of momentum in the 6th inning of Game 3 as they were able to put up four runs before the Panthers recorded the final out of the game to seal the deal by the score of 13-7, moving them within one win of their first ORWBL World Series title.
Three time NL Cy Young winner Griffin Smith once again did a fantastic job shutting down the Magic lineup as no Maple City player had more than 2 hits in Game 3. Smith also helped himself out at the plate as he finished the game 4/6 with 3 HR, 4 RBI, and 4 Runs. Alex Zarazee continued playing at an elite level in the World Series as he went 3/6 with 3 more Home Runs, 4 RBI, and 3 Runs. Seth Campbell and Austin Williams each recorded 3 hits in the Game 3 win while each added a Home Run. Campbell, Williams, and Daivyn Davis all put on a fielding clinic as they didn't give Maple City anything, making even the tougher plays look routine.
For Maple City, they did not have a whole lot going on in Game 3 as Danny Hernandez and Drew Luther each had a pair of Home Runs while Caleb Jonkman and Jared Jonkman each added one. That is how things seemed to be going all series long as the Magic simply were not able to get many runners on base as Granger's defense was about as good as you can get. Maple City's Wes Ellis had another tough game on the mound as he allowed 10 Runs in 2 1/3 Innings pitched before he was removed for Jared Jonkman.
After missing the entire playoffs with an injury, Shane Anderson made his return as he ended up taking the mound late after the Magic were trailing the game 12-3. The Panthers had really been getting to both knuckleball pitchers as they had both Wes Ellis and Jared Jonkman's number all series long. Anderson came in and did a great job limiting the Panthers the rest of the way as he only allowed 1 run in 2 1/3 Innings of work. After doing everything he could to keep Maple City in it, Anderson took the mound for the Magic in Game 4 with their season on the line while Griffin Smith took the mound once again for the Panthers.
With nothing to lose, Maple City came out with a lot more energy in Game 4 and they were even able to take their first lead of the entire series as they put up two runs in the top of the first inning. However, anytime the Magic looked like they might be gaining some sort of momentum, the Panthers immediately shut that down.
Maple City's only lead of the entire series lasted a good five minutes as the Panthers immediately responded for three runs in the bottom half of the 1st. After allowing two runs in the first inning, Smith got into a groove as he then strung together three straight scoreless innings. While the Magic were struggling to get anything going, Anderson at least was doing all that he could to keep them in the game. Anderson only allowed 3 more runs from the 2nd through 4th innings as the Panthers held a 6-2 lead heading into the top of the 5th.
Caleb Jonkman led off the inning with a HR before Wes Ellis got out of a slump as he homered to cut the deficit to two. Jared Jonkman made it three straight Home Runs while Shane Anderson was able to add one more before the end of the inning.
In the bottom of the 5th the Panthers were able to re take the lead after manufacturing a pair of runs that reached base on errors. The Panthers made the Magic pay as those two runs really hurt the Magic's chances of shifting the momentum.
The Panthers then took the field in the top of the 6th inning as they were just three outs away from breaking through and winning their first ORWBL title. Jared Jonkman and Danny Hernandez were both retired to start the inning but it wouldn't have been right if the 4 time defending champs didn't at least go down without one final fight.
Shane Anderson hit a popup in between Griffin Smith and Austin Williams as it was perfectly placed as Anderson was able to reach 3rd base after some heads up base running. Just as he did for most of the series, Caleb Jonkman was able to pick up a clutch 2 out, 2 run Home Run to tie the game at eight, keeping Maple City's hopes at 5 straight titles alive.
Griffin Smith was able to retire Wes Ellis to end the inning as the stage was all set for the Panthers to win the World Series in walkoff fashion. Anderson was able to get Daivyn Davis to ground out as that brought the Panthers captain up to the plate.
Smith and the Panthers were ready to celebrate as Smith took just one pitch before sending the second one deep to left center field. The Magic outfield could only watch it fly over the fence as the Panthers bench erupted into pandemonium. Smith's walkoff Home Run capped off a 9-8 World Series clinching victory as the Granger Panthers shocked ORWBL nation by sweeping the 4x defending World Series Champion Maple City Magic.
It was an incredible scene on the field as the Panthers players jumped around for joy on the field before popping open the traditional World Series championship champagne. With the celebration in full affect on the field, the Panthers were presented with the ORWBL championship trophy as it had been a moment that was five years in the making.
During the celebration, Panthers Captain, Lead off hitter, and ace Griffin Smith was announced as the 2021 ORWBL World Series Most Valuable Player. Smith finished the series going 14/27 at the plate with 10 HR, 12 RBI, and 12 Runs. Smith also won all four games on the mound, pitching all 24 innings while only allowing 35 runs. To put that in perspective, Granger was able to score 57 runs in the series.
Austin Williams finished off a remarkable series with another great game as he added 2 more Home Runs and 3 more RBI's as he finished the series leading both teams with 11 Home Runs. Seth Campbell also finished strong as he belted a pair of Home Runs in the series clinching win. Alex Zarazee also added a HR while Daivyn Davis was able to reach base on multiple occasions, scoring an important run in the bottom half of the 5th inning.
For Maple City, Caleb Jonkman did everything he could as he went 4/6 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, and 3 Runs. Jared Jonkman hit a pair of Home Runs while Wes Ellis and Shane Anderson each hit one. While the Magic were not able to win the game, Shane Anderson did a great job of keeping the Magic in the game and limiting the Panthers to only 9 runs. He gave the Magic a chance to win that game which they really were not able to say about the first three games as they were definitely one sided affairs. The Panthers truly dominated the series across all aspects of the game as they won 14 innings throughout the series while Maple City was only able to win 4 separate innings.
For Granger, this has to feel incredibly special as they have been chasing their first ORWBL title for 5 years. They won the NL regular season title all five times but had failed to break through and win it all. Not only did the Panthers win their first World Series but they did it in dominating fashion.
Meanwhile for Maple City, their historic 4 year run as ORWBL Champions came to an end and although they came up just short, they certainly have to be feeling pretty proud about what they were able to do over the course of the past five seasons. While their championship run has come to an end, this group figures to stay together as they will hope to return to the top in 2022.
All in all, the Granger Panthers were truly on another level in this World Series matchup as they earned this title in dominating fashion. It is only fitting that the Panthers won Game 4 on a walkoff to clinch a 4-0 series sweep, ending Maple City's 4-peat run, 4 Cam!