Manitoba rides offense to first CWL championship

By Thaddeus Krzus

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The Manitoba North Stars claimed the 2016 California Winter League championship with a 6-1 victory over the Palm Springs Power on Sunday afternoon at Palm Springs Stadium. The No. 2 seed finished the season on a four-game winning streak, outscoring its opponents 35-6 over that span.

Buddy Elgin set the tone early for the North Stars’ offense, blasting a 1-0 pitch into left-center for a quick 1-0 lead in the first.

Nick Murphy doubled to open up the second frame for his first of four hits in the game, and came around to score two batters later on Daniel Lawrence’s sacrifice fly to right to extend Manitoba’s lead to two.

The North Stars opened the game up in the third with a four-run frame to put away the Power.

After Elgin doubled and Aaron Cook singled to knock Palm Springs starting pitcher Andrew Lowe out of the game, Tom Nagy drove a single to center off of Julian Esquibel to plate both runners for a four-run advantage.

Victor Barron sent the next pitch over the right field wall to cap off the four-run inning to blow the game open and give Manitoba a 6-0 lead.

The trio of Elgin, Cook and Nagy at the top of the lineup combined for six of the North Stars’ 11 hits on the day.

Palm Springs cut into the deficit in the fourth on Cameron Johnson’s RBI single to plate Ian Hagenmiller and bring the Power within five.

That would be the only tally on the board for Palm Springs, as Evan Neiser, Colin Moberly and Tanner Kiest shut down the Power’s offense, striking out 13 batters and surrendering only five hits.

Neiser took the mound for his first start of the season and worked out of early trouble in the first.

After walking Nicholas Marigny and Jordan Brower with two outs, the southpaw induced a double play off the bat of Hagenmiller to escape the jam.

Moberly worked his way out of trouble in the sixth.

Back-to-back free passes to Marigny and Brower started the inning, but two consecutive strikeouts to Hagenmiller and Johnson preceded a fly out to center off the bat of Mark Lindsey to end the Power’s threat.

Kiest came on to start the eighth and worked two perfect innings to seal the championship victory, striking out the final five batters of the game.

Manitoba becomes the CWL’s seventh league champion, and accomplished the feat in its inaugural season.

The California Winter League would like to thank all players, staff and fans for being apart of another successful campaign, and wish everyone well over the coming months before returning to action at Palm Springs Stadium in January, 2017.