Postseason Picture Takes Shape On Final Day of Regular Season
By: Julius Bzozowski
Regular-season play wrapped up in the California Winter League on Tuesday, as the idle Toronto Rush secured the No. 1 seed and the Manitoba North Stars locked down the No. 2 seed entering the playoffs on Thursday.
The Washington Blue Sox opened the final day of the regular season with a 4-3 victory over the Oregon Lumberjacks at the auxiliary field. Wes Wallace and Anthony Sorrentino both hit solo home runs for the Blue Sox, as they built a 4-0 lead heading into the seventh and final inning.
The Oregon rally, led by first baseman Josh Davis’ two runs batted in, came up just short as Washington pitcher Brandon Boyle slammed the door shut.
Blue Sox starting pitcher Kevin Lenik struck out seven batters over three innings to earn the win.
Palm Springs Stadium’s first game of the day saw the Manitoba North Stars take down the Coachella Valley Snowbirds by a score of 11-1.
Colin Moberly threw a complete game for the North Stars, striking out seven while scattering five hits.
Manitoba center fielder Darius Washington impressed at the plate by going 2-for-4 with three RBI, two runs scored, a triple, and a stolen base.
Center fielder Masahiro Miyadera drove in Coachella Valley’s lone run with an RBI grounder in the seventh inning.
In the second game of the day at the auxiliary field, the Canada A’s defeated their Canadian rival, the Alberta Grizzly, by a score of 7-3. Canada’s offensive attack was led by catcher Logan Trowbridge’s two hits and right fielder TJ Braff’s walk, RBI single, and run scored.
Alberta took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third inning, as Grizzly third baseman Brett Huffman smoked a two-run home run and center fielder Kyle Adie chipped in with an RBI double.
That was the only inning Alberta would score in as A’s starting pitcher Ryan Davis ended up going five innings with five strikeouts and zero walks. Sam Klein and Ricky Schafer both worked one perfect frame to close the game for Canada.
At Palm Springs Stadium’s lunchtime game, the Palm Desert Coyotes pulled off an improbable comeback against the Palm Springs Chill and ended up tying, 3-3. Trailing 3-0 heading into the seventh inning and facing red-hot Chill starting pitcher Brian O’Keefe, Coyotes outfielder Kade Andrus blasted a three-run home run to left field with Parker Norris and Brett Grissinger on base.
O’Keefe struck out nine batters over 6 2/3 innings, but had to settle for a no-decision.
Andrus’ teammate Iszac Valdez was the only one to consistently solve O’Keefe, as he went 3-for-4 with a double.
Offensively for Palm Springs, third baseman Josh Eatherly accounted for two of the three Chill runs as he hit an RBI double, stole his sixth bag of the season, and scored a run.
In a wild afternoon finale at the aux field, the New York Colonials defeated the Bay Area Bootleggers by a score of 12-10.
Bay Area entered the seventh and final inning with a 9-8 lead, but the New York Colonials would not be denied. New York posted four runs in the top of the seventh inning and the Colonials pitching staff got a key 6-4-3 double play in the bottom of the inning to quell any chance at a Bay Area rally.
In a game that featured 28 hits and five lead changes, the Colonials were led by their big three of left fielder Alex Simone, second baseman AJ Flores, and shortstop Jalen Harris. Simone went 1-for-2 with a walk and a two-RBI double, Flores went 2-for-2 with two runs scored, two RBI’s, and three steals, and Harris went 3-for-5 with two runs batted in, one stolen base, and one run scored.
Bootleggers catcher Stephen Sunday had a monster game at the plate despite the loss. Sunday went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, three runs batted in, a walk, and a two-run home run.
Colonials starting pitcher Nolan Atkins threw 6 2/3 innings and struck out three to get the win.
The first night game at Palm Springs Stadium saw the Midwest Haymakers and the Palm Springs Power draw to an 8-8 tie. Palm Springs rallied for the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Haymakers catcher Brian McKenna went 3-for-4 with a triple, RBI, and a run scored, and handled all seven innings behind the plate. Teammate Ryan Gerber finished 1-for-1 with a triple.
For the Power, first baseman Ian Hagenmiller walked once, drove in one run, and scored two runs. Center fielder Cameron Johnson knocked a two-run triple in the bottom of the second inning.
It’s playoff time! Be sure to check out the Round 1 CWL Playoff schedule by clicking HERE. Playoffs start on Thursday, February 11th. Format is single-elimination, and the top two teams in the standings will get a bye to Friday’s second round. The CWL Championship game will be held at noon at Palm Springs Stadium on Sunday, February 14th.