Tag Archives: independent baseball champions

2018 Independent League Champions

While Major League Baseball is still trying to determine their champion, the independent leagues around the country have all crowded their champions for the 2018 season. Here is a look at every winning team.

Atlantic League

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Sugar Land Skeeters Take Home Atlantic League Championship

(Central Islip, N.Y., Sept. 30, 2018) – The Skeeters won the Atlantic League Championship with a 4-1 win over the Long Island Ducks in Game 5 of the Atlantic League Championship Series on Sunday night at Bethpage Ballpark.

It’s the second Atlantic League Championship in the seven-year history of the Skeeters, with their other title coming in 2016, also against the Ducks.

Since the Skeeters joined the Atlantic League in 2012, the Ducks are the only other team to win at least two Atlantic League titles (2012, ‘13), along with the Skeeters.

Skeeters left-hander James Russell, who won the Atlantic League Championship Series Most Valuable Player, tossed a complete game on Sunday night, allowing one run on seven hits while striking out five without a walk.

Sugar Land jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second on a solo home run from Denis Phipps — his first homer of the postseason.

Albert Cordero added to the lead with an RBI single in the third and Matt Chavez followed with an RBI single of his own in the fifth.

Dan Lyons tacked on the only run of the night for the Ducks with a home run in the fifth.

Barrett Barnes finished off the Skeeters’ scoring with an RBI single in the sixth inning. Long Island starter Jake Fisher, who allowed three runs on nine hits over five innings, took the loss.

Under the leadership of first-year manager Pete Incaviglia, the Skeeters finished the 2018 regular season with an 81-45 record, which were the second-most regular-season wins in franchise history. It was also the second-best winning percentage (.643) in franchise history and the Skeeters’ 52 home wins were the most in a single season in team history.

Twelve players from the Skeeters’ 2018 roster had their contracts purchased by Major League Baseball organizations, which is a franchise single-season record. Two additional players had their contracts purchased by Mexican League organizations, giving the Skeeters a franchise-best 14 contracts purchased by other professional baseball organizations. Since the Skeeters joined the Atlantic League in 2012, the most contracts purchased by Major League Baseball organizations in a single season was 13 from the Somerset Patriots in 2017.

Can-Am

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SUSSEX COUNTY MINERS – 2018 CAN-AM LEAGUE CHAMPIONS

SEPTEMBER 15 PLAYOFF RECAP

Sussex County 6, Quebec 5 (Sussex County wins championship, 3-1) – Box Score

Photo Courtesy: Dennis Mark/Sussex County Miners

Martin Figueroa launched a walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to help Sussex County defeat Quebec 6-5 in game four and win the 2018 Can-Am League Championship. The Miners walked-off on the Capitales for the second straight night as they rallied from a 5-3 deficit in their last frame to take home the title.

Sussex County had 13 hits on the night and was led by Figueroa who went 4-for-5 with two home runs, three runs scored and four RBIs. Audy Ciriaco had three hits in five at-bats along with a run scored while Christian Correa drove in a run and went 2-for-3.

Miners pitcher Kevin Grendell tossed 1 2/3 innings of relief and picked-up the victory. Grendell gave up the Nick Van Stratten solo home run in the ninth and a walk in the seven batters he faced.

For Quebec in the losing effort, Van Stratten had a 2-for-4 outing with two runs scored and an RBI.

American Association

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T-BONES CLAIM 2018 CHAMPIONSHIP IN GAME 4

Kansas City 5, St. Paul 3 – Box Score

With a 5-3 win against the St. Paul Saints in game four of the American Association Finals the Kansas City T-Bones won their first American Association championship in franchise history.

The T-Bones won the best-of-five series 3-1.

On Saturday night, CF Todd Cunningham scored the first run of the game on a sac fly from C Adrian Nieto in the bottom of the fourth inning. In the top of the fifth, the Saints took the lead as SS Joey Wong had an RBI double and scored on a CF Kyle Barrett single later in the inning. 1B Brady Shoemaker also singled home RF Max Murphy in the frame.

In the bottom of the fifth, DH Danny Hayes hit an RBI single to pull the T-Bones back within a run at 3-2. In the sixth, 2B Alay Lago blasted a two-run shot to give Kansas City the lead and 1B Noah Perio Jr. added an RBI ground-rule double in the seventh for insurance.

On the mound, reliever Marcus Crescentini earned the win for working 1.2 innings and and Cody Winiarski picked up the four-out save.

Perio Jr. was named Finals MVP after going 6-for-18 at the plate with three doubles, two home runs and five RBIs in the series. The MVP set the tone for the series, going 3-for-6 with two home runs and four RBIs in game one.

 

Frontier League

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JOLIET CROWNED 2018 FRONTIER LEAGUE CHAMPS

Joliet, IL — The Joliet Slammers presented by ATI Physical Therapy are Frontier League Champions after taking game 5 from Washington by a score of 4-2.  Washington jumped on the scoreboard early with a run in the first, but the Slammers quickly scored 2 in the top of the second on a triple by Trenton Hill and single by Chaz Meadows.  London Lindley and Danny Zardon would score 2 more runs for the Slammers in the top of the 3rd.

Cody Clark, who came on in relief in the 4th inning pitched 5 1/3 innings, retiring all 16 batters he faced, including 8 strikeouts.  Clark was named the Frontier League Championship Series MVP.

United Shore Pro Baseball League

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Beavers Repeat as USPBL Champions

Box Score | Photo Gallery

UTICA, Mich. – Thomas Roulis doubled and drove in two runs, while left-handed pitcher Kevin Matthews (5-0) threw 5.2 strong innings, striking out eight, to lead the Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers (27-21) to their second straight United Shore Professional Baseball League Championship, defeating the Eastside Diamond Hoppers (25-24), 9-3, on Sunday in front of a lively crowd at Jimmy John’s Field.

Ryan Smith and Nicholas Campana each went 2-for-4 with one RBI for the Beavers. LHP Gerry Salisbury tossed 2.1 scoreless innings in relief, including getting out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the sixth inning with Birmingham Bloomfield leading 4-2.

he Beavers are the first USPBL team to repeat as champions and have won 2 of 3 titles since the league started in 2016.

Gunnar Buhner drove in two of the three runs for the Diamond Hoppers.

Pacific Association

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PACIFICS WIN 2018 PACIFIC ASSOCIATION CHAMPIONSHIP

Angel Ventura Shuts Out Stompers in Dominant Performance

The San Rafael Pacifics, born in controversy and now for sale, last night in Sonoma won their fourth championship in their seven years of existence.  They did so on the strong right arm of a 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic, Angel Ventura, who threw a bravura complete game two-hit shutout to cap an up-and-down season that may prove to be the team’s last.

“I can’t even begin to describe the range of emotions I’m feeling right now,” said Pacifics President and General Manager Mike Shapiro during the post-game celebration, champagne still dripping down his face.  “This season was a struggle on so many different fronts, but if this is the end for us, we walk away on top and proud of all we’ve accomplished.”

There were brilliant performances by a team, that when whole and healthy, may have been the best in Pacifics and, for that matter, league history.  It was a team with the league’s best pitching staff, batting average, and fielding percentage; lefty Jared Koenig (11-1, 3.53, 1-0, 0.00 in playoffs) set the single season and single game strikeout record; complete player Javion Randle led the league in hitting with a .402 average; and acrobatic shortstop Rando Moreno, led the league in doubles.

Both the Stompers and the Pacifics won their semi-final games at home on Saturday night to tee up a championship game match-up between two managers, Matt Kavanaugh and Zack Pace, who’d been teammates with the Pacifics and longstanding good friends.

“I’m really happy for Zack and the job he did in his rookie year as a manager,” said Kavanaugh prior to the game.  ”I wish him every bit of luck tonight, but expect he’ll have to settle for finishing in second.”

After playing his two aces, Koenig and Max Beatty (9-3, 3.93), on Saturday, Kavanaugh turned to Ventura (4-0, 2.88) who joined the club on August 5th after eight affiliated minor league seasons in the Brewers organization, reaching AAA the past two seasons.

Not having pitched competitively since his May release, Ventura built his arm strength and stamina over 5 starts that featured 35 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched.  He dazzled in his tune-up start last week against Vallejo, tossing 6 innings of no-hit ball with 11 strikeouts.

“Ventura was ready to go,” said Kavanaugh.  We kept him on a pitch count last Tuesday even though he had a no-no going.  That game meant nothing other than to get him set for the championship game.”

And ready he was.  From the first pitch thrown, Ventura was simply dominant.  Mixing a riding 95 mph fastball regularly spotted on inside corner paint with a hellish, late breaking slider Ventura struck out 15 Stompers, 8 in a row at one point, and coasted with seven 1-2-3 innings.  He allowed two seeing-eye ground ball hits and walked only one.

“I’ve never seen a performance like that before, especially considering it was in a championship game,” said Kavanaugh. “I had Beatty, Herr, and Damon ready to come out of the bullpen if needed, but Ventura gave them the night off.”

Sonoma sent out right hander Tyler Sharp (5-2, 3.22 ERA) who’d shut out the Pacifics on August 1st.   Traded mid-season from Napa to Sonoma, Sharp entered the game with just one loss for Sonoma in nine starts.

Coming into the championship game, Sonoma’s pitching staff had not allowed a run in their last 21 innings.

But Sharp wasn’t all that sharp this evening, routinely missing the strike zone with his fastball and showing no command of his slider or curve.

The bottom of the order got to Sharp in the 2nd when Ricky Gingras and Wes Wallace flared back-to-back one out singles. Kyle Ulanday took a walk on four straight balls to load the bases before the struggling Sharp also walked Aaron Brill, driving in a run.

Sitting on a fastball, DonAndre Clark got beat inside but put enough barrel on the ball to flip it into center field for an RBI single, scoring Wallace. With the bases still loaded and only one out, Rando Moreno took another four-pitch walk, extending the lead to 3-0.

Pace was forced to go to his stacked, all-hands-on-deck bullpen earlier than expected.

Lefty Kenny Matthews (4-2, 3.85 ERA) first had to face the powerful Jake Taylor with the bases loaded and one out.  On a 1-1 count Taylor stung a line drive into deep left center for a sacrifice fly, scoring Brill and giving the Pacifics an early 4-0 lead.

Immediately, Ventura made his statement as to who was in control of this game, retiring the first ten hitters he faced, eight of whom he struck out consecutively.

Sonoma found their first crack in Ventura’s momentum after back-to-back one out singles by Kam Stewart and Rob DeAngelis in the bottom of the 4th. Digging deep, Ventura struck out Kenny Meimerstorf with a high-riding fastball and got Brock Hartley to fly out to Dempster in right to end the threat.

That would be all Sonoma could muster for the rest of the evening.  Ventura then retired six more in a row, before issuing a two out walk to Stewart in the bottom of the 6th, but got a groundout to end that inning.

Kyle Ulanday slammed a no-doubt solo homerun to left center field in the 6th and Brent Gillespie padded the lead in the top of the 7th with a solo homer of his own, a towering moonshot to right center field, finishing the scoring at 6-0.

Ventura easily set down the last ten Stompers, striking out four of them, including the last two to place an exclamation point on one of the most dominating pitching performances ever seen.

“I’ve been around the game of baseball a long time,” said Shapiro. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone, at any level, pitch with such complete command of all his pitches and combine exceptional velocity with such filthy breaking stuff.  I am in utter amazement over what Angel did tonight, particularly considering the stage he was on.”

“He was insane tonight,” said Pacifics pitcher Max Beatty. “Easily the best pitching performance I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

The 2018 championship season has now ended and the future for this franchise remains uncertain.  No matter what becomes of the team, there will be a trunk full of fond memories.  We will recall the wonderful people who made it all happen – the team’s owners, all the front office staffers and interns over the years, our great fans and sponsors and host families…our marvelous players who gave us so many thrills.

Pecos League

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Bakersfield Train Robbers are 2018 Pecos League Champions

8/4/2018- The Bakersfield Train Robbers defeated the Alpine Cowboys 2 games to 1 to win the 2018 Pecos League Championship.

Empire League

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PUERTO RICO ISLANDERS WIN 2018 EPBL CHAMPIONSHIP

PLATTSBURGH, NY – The Puerto Rico Islanders have defeated the New York Bucks in the final two games of the series to become the 2018 Empire League Champions.

After falling behind in the series (1-0), The Islanders sent  right hander Kurtis Hultz to the mound to face off against Tanner Klein. Kurtis tossed 5.2 solid innings getting out of several jams after allowing 8 total walks and 2 total hits.. He strike out 2 batters and allow 2 earned runs.

It was another nail biter as the Islanders were up 3-2 in the 9th inning when the Bucks outfielder Trey Hannam hit a double off the wall with a runner on first base to score him and tie the game.

In the bottom of the inning the Islanders would have a runner reach first and would steal second on the very next pitch. With two outs there was a ground ball to the Bucks second baseman in which he made a good throw to first base but the first baseman could not handle it and ball ended up getting passed him allowing the runner to score from second base and a walk-off win for the Islanders.

The Walk off was the 4th straight walk off of the best playoffs in EPBL history to push it the 3rd and final game to be played right after.

In Game 3, The Islander took an early lead and never looked back.  Manager Tony Rodriguez sent pitcher Axel Cruz to the mound and was  solid going over 5 innings pitched  striking out over 5 batters. Cruz, who is normally a reliever was the last available pitcher for the Islanders.

The Islanders exploded in the 5th inning tied at 1 with a 5 run inning. Bucks starter and relief pitchers walked several of the Islanders and a couple of mistakes turned into a big inning for the Islanders

The Islanders never looked back as they would go on to defeat the New York Bucks 7-2 and take the 2018 Empire League Championship.

 

 

Congratulations to all the teams who won a ring this year! The grind was (hopefully) worth it!

*All pictures and write-ups credited to the corresponding leagues’ official websites.

 

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That’s a Wrap for the 2016 Indy Ball Season

As game 162’s are finishing up around the MLB today, the independent leagues have all finished their seasons as well.

Let’s take a look at every champion crowned this year in indy ball…

Atlantic League – The Sugar Land Skeeters

(Central Islip, N.Y., Sept. 30, 2016) – The Sugar Land Skeeters topped the Long Island Ducks 5-3 after a three-run rally in the seventh to take their first ever Atlantic League Championship title. Sean Gallagher managed seven innings with two earned runs and six strikeouts, while Derrick Loop earned his 33rd save of the season. Juan Martinez was named the 2016 MVP of the Skeeters.

The Ducks would strike early, with Fehlandt Lentini stealing home and scoring from third base with Delta Cleary Jr. at bat. However, the Skeeters would respond in the top of the fourth with a double to left field from Lance Zawadzki, bringing Jeremy Barfield and Travis Scott across the plate to give the Skeeters a 2-1 lead going into the fifth.

The Ducks would then tie things up in the bottom of the fifth after a double into center field would bring Lentini in from second to score. Cody Puckett would then single to third base, but a throwing error from third baseman Juan Martinez would allow Puckett to advance to second and Lew Ford to score, giving the Ducks a 3-2 lead going into the sixth.

The Skeeters would continue to push, however, with a three-run rally in the seventh beginning with Martinez’s single to center field allowing Wilfredo Rodriguez to plate a run. Josh Prince’s single to center field would bring the Skeeters further ahead, plating Jeff Dominguez and Martinez. The Skeeters would go into the bottom of the seventh with a 5-3 lead over the Ducks.

The Skeeters would successfully hold the Ducks to three runs, ultimately giving them a 5-3 victory and their first ever Atlantic League Championship title.

American Association – Winnipeg Goldeyes

WINNIPEG GOLDEYES: 2016 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION CHAMPIONS

September 19, 2016  Winnipeg 11, Wichita 4 – Game 5 (Winnipeg wins the championship, 3-2) – Box

The Winnipeg Goldeyes are the 2016 American Association champions as they rolled past Wichita in game five, 11-4. Winnipeg pounded out 17 hits in the contest with five batters collecting multi-hit games. Goldeyes CF Reggie Abercrombie had a sensational night going 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs and seven RBI. Winnipeg LF Willie Cabreraadded four hits and three runs scored while DH Adam Heisler chipped in with a pair of doubles in a 4-for-6 night. Goldeyes starting pitcher Kevin McGovern threw six strong innings in notching the victory. McGovern gave up two earned runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. For Winnipeg, this is their second league title with the first one coming in 2012.

Can-Am – Ottawa Champions

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( September 17 Playoff Recap) Ottawa 3, Rockland 1 – Game 5 (Ottawa wins the championship, 3-2)

The Ottawa Champions are the 2016 Can-Am League champions as they defeated Rockland in game five, 3-1. Ottawa starting pitcher Austin Chrismon turned in a sensational performance in leading the Champions to the title. Chrismon tossed a complete game allowing only one earned run on six hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. The righty threw 123 pitches in the contest with 86 of them being for strikes. Offensively for the Champions, DH Kenny Bryant led the way going 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI. Ottawa SS Daniel Bick had a pair of hits in four at-bats while RF Adron Chambers and CF Sebastien Boucher each had a hit and scored a run. For the Boulders in the losing effort, C Marcus Nidiffer and LF Devin Harris both went 3-for-4.

Frontier League – Evansville Otters

September 19, 2016

The Evansville Otters used pitching and defense to win Game Five, 1-0, clinching their second Frontier League Championship in team history on Monday night. Hunter Ackerman got the start for Evansville, and he was superb. Ackerman carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning, but gave up a triple to Kyle Gaedele with one out in the inning. Ackerman tossed seven and two-thirds scoreless innings, ending the night with the victory.

The only offense needed in the game came off the bat of Rolando Gomez in the bottom of the third inning, as he drove in Christopher Riopedre with a single to center field, giving the Otters the only run of the game. That lone run ended up being enough as the Otters pitching staff combined for a one-hit, shutout of the Rascals in the decisive Game Five at Bosse Field.

The game was low scoring, but there was plenty of drama. After Ackerman gave up the one out triple to Gaedele, he faced his first real adversity of the night in that seventh inning. With the tying run at third base and one out, Ackerman blew a fastball by Jason Merjano to get a much-needed strikeout. Ackerman then got some help from his shortstop for the final out in the inning, as Riopedre made a sliding stop deep in the hole on the left side of the infield, and delivered a strike to first in time to get the third out, preventing the run from scoring.

Clint Freeman led off the eighth inning for River City with a deep fly ball to center field. This time it was Chris Sweeney who made the play, tracking down the fly ball as he crashed into the wall, holding on for the first out of the inning. Ackerman then faced a pinch hitter in Braxton Martinez, and got him to groundout for the second out of the inning. That ended Ackerman’s night as he exited with two outs in the eighth inning and the Otters turned it over to the bullpen.

Ken Frosch was the first pitcher to emerge from the bullpen, but he walked the only batter he faced to put the tying run on base. Evansville then made a quick change as the Otters brought in Trevor Walch to face the right handed hitting Johnny Morales. Walch also walked the first batter he faced bringing up the red-hot, Josh Ludy with two runners on base and two out in the inning. Walch got Ludy to fly out to right field, ending the inning and the scoring threat.

With Evansville three outs away from their second Frontier League Championship, the Otters turned it over to their closer, Randy McCurry, for the top of the ninth inning. McCurry led the league in saves in the regular season with 23, and he picked up his third save of the postseason on Monday night. McCurry cruised through the ninth inning. He got the leadoff batter to ground out to Josh Allen, struck out the second batter, and finally got the final batter to ground out to Nik Balog at first base to end the game.

With the 1-0 victory in Game Five, the Evansville Otters won the Frontier League Championship Series 3-2 over the River City Rascals. The championship is the team’s second title in team history, with the other title coming in 2006. River City fell in the finals for the third consecutive season.

Hunter Ackerman picked up the win in the game, and was also named Most Valuable Player of the Frontier League Championship Series. Randy McCurry was credited with his third save of the playoffs and 26th overall in 2016.

United Shore League – Utica Unicorns

By Adam Rickert
Utica Unicorns 5 AT Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers 0
UTICA — The usual suspects came through once again for the Utica Unicorns as their stars led them to a USPBL Championship victory on Sunday afternoon.
Austin Crutcher and Chris Cruz hit solo home runs in the fourth and fifth, respectively, and Donny Murray tossed five and two-thirds innings of shutout baseball to lead the Unicorns to a 5-0 win over the Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers.
Cruz, whose solo homer in the fifth inning gave Utica a 2-0 lead, has been arguably the league’s hottest player in the past month.
Since August 7, Cruz has collected 19 hits, eight home runs in 26 RBIs in 17 games.
In that span, the Unicorns went 11-6, improving their regular season record from 12-21 to 21-27 before winning both playoff games, including the title match.
“It feels awesome,” said Cruz when asked about playing such a huge role in his team’s turnaround. “There’s an old adage that hitting is contagious, and that’s definitely been true for us this year.”
Once again, the Unicorns proved that hitting is indeed contagious. They gave themselves some more breathing room in the ninth inning thanks to a rally that began with a two-out double by Cruz.
With the bases loaded, catcher Kyle Hamner brought in two more runs with a single to extend the lead to 4-0.
Designated hitter Mike Logsdon added another insurance run one batter later, lacing a double down the left field line that brought home Tyler McVicar.
Hamner and Logsdon were also major contributors in Saturday night’s playoff game between the Unicorns and Eastside Diamond Hoppers.
In the 4-3 victory over the Hoppers, Logsdon had a two-out, two-run single while Hamner blasted a two-run homer.
In addition to timely hitting, Donny Murray turned in a splendid performance on the mound for the Unicorns.
Murray, whose only other win came on July 10th when he no-hit the Beavers, went five and two-thirds innings on Sunday. He struck out seven Beavers, gave up just five hits and walked no one.
Seth Brenner, Andrew Potter and Mitch Aker pitched the game’s final three and one-third innings. Like Murray, none of the three relievers surrendered a walk.
The victory encapsulated how baseball is a game of streaks. The Unicorns finished with the worst record of the three USPBL teams over the course of the regular season, but were the hottest of the trio when it came down to crunch time.
Because of their ability to find their stroke at the right time, the Unicorns will be remembered as champions of the USPBL in the league’s inaugural 2016 season.
“That was obviously our goal the entire year,” said Cruz. “As a team, you want to come together when it matters.
“It’s hard to find words for it right now.”

Pacific Association – Sonoma Stompers

Sonoma Stompers Win First League Title

Pecos League – Tucson Saguaros 

The Tucson Saguaros are 2016 Pecos League Champions


8/23/2016– The Tucson Saguaros are 2016 Pecos League Champions. The Saguaros defeated the Trinidad Triggers 2 games to 0.

Empire League – New York Sullivan Explorers

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August 3, 2016
The New York Sullivan Explorers have defeated the Watertown Bucks by a score of 8-6 to win the first Empire League Championship Series.

Kevin Putkonen and Gevon Jackson celebrated winning a baseball championship on Wednesday night for the second straight year in Watertown.
However, the pair didn’t bring home a title for the city as both seasons they played on teams that eliminated the Watertown Bucks in the playoffs, this time with the Sullivan Explorers.
The Explorers dashed any hopes the Bucks had of winning a championship by prevailing 8-6 in Game 2 of the Empire Professional Baseball League finals before a turnout of 136 at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
Putkonen, who is Sullivan’s player-manager, and Jackson both played last year on the Newburgh Newts, who swept the Watertown Bucks in two games to win the North Country Baseball League title.
“This is special,” said Putkonen, who finished last season as Newburgh’s player-manager. “I’ve been fortunate to be on good teams and it’s just our mentality. We found a new mentality about midway through the season, the guys bought into the system, we executed and we came out on top.”
This time, they teamed up to help spark the Explorers to the first-year EPBL’s title in a two-game sweep of Watertown in the finals.
The result left the Bucks — particularly manager Simon Walters — almost at a loss for words.
“You have no idea,” Walters said when asked how disappointed he was with the outcome. “In two games, we got like only four innings from our starters. So it’s disappointing.”
Watertown finished the regular season with the league’s best record (35-21) after winning both the first- and second- half titles.
But the Bucks, who lost the first game 8-7 on Tuesday, never led in the championship series against the red-hot Explorers.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Watertown left fielder Javier Marticorena said. “We came in after we clinched both (halves) of the season and we kind of expected a little better performance. But baseball is a strange game.”
Sullivan won 11 of their final 13 games to win the league title, including generating a nine-game winning streak to qualify for the postseason.
“It’s amazing, this is a very blessed feeling,” said Jackson, who was named the EPBL’s playoff MVP. “It’s been a long year personally, but when you come out here and play for your team, it all works out in the end — and that’s what it’s all about.”
Like in Tuesday’s playoff-opening loss to the Explorers, the Bucks never fully recovered from allowing a big inning early.
“That’s definitely something that can’t happen in big games like this,” Marticorena said. “You can’t allow such big innings early on to happen. We just dug ourselves too big a hole we couldn’t come out of.”
After striking for six runs in the first inning of the series opener, Sullivan jumped out to an early advantage by scoring four times for a 4-0 lead in the second inning on Wednesday.
“They beat us at their own game and they executed,” Walters said. “They were just the better team in this series. It doesn’t matter what our record indicated, they came in hot and took it to us from the get-go.”
Watertown, which played as the visiting team in the second game of the series, responded with a four-run frame of their own to tie the score in the top of the fourth.
After catcher Brian McKenna singled in a run, Johnny Cole scored on a wild pitch for the Bucks. After Calvin Graves walked, Sheehan Planas-Arteaga followed with a two-run single to left field to pull Watertown even at 4-4.
But Sullivan bounced back to take the lead for good with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Nate Coronado drew a leadoff walk and scored from first base after Adrian Gonzalez reached on an bunt single and Bucks third baseman Collis Hunt threw the ball away on the play.
Rey Ordonez Jr. followed with an RBI single to left field.
The Explorers led 8-4 in the fifth as Taylor Nichols and Coronado each reached on infield errors and came home as Gonzalez reached on a fielder’s choice and on an Ordonez single to left, respectively.
“That was huge, that put a lot of pressure on them,” said Jackson, who went 3-for-9 in the series and drove in four runs, including a two-run home run in the opener. “They’re a championship-type team. They scratched back at us and we did a great job of answering. They were here for a reason, but we answered them when we should have.”
The Bucks drew within 8-5 in the sixth as Planas-Arteaga reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on an infield error.
Watertown failed to score in the seventh and eighth, despite putting multiple runners on. It had runners on first and third with one out in the eighth, but Javier Marticorena flied out to short center field and Garcia was thrown out at the plate on a strike by Ordonez Jr.
The Bucks got within 8-6 in the ninth as Eddie Malone Jr. singled and scored when pinch hitter Alex Herceg reached on an infield error, but Graves grounded out to short the end the game.
“My mood is I’m disappointed,” Planas-Arteaga said. “We were there at the finish line, we just couldn’t cash it in.”
Sullivan ace Jameson McGrane pitched six innings to earn the win. Harrison Lee, the team’s No. 2 starter, tossed two scoreless innings and Erik Mozeika worked out of trouble in the ninth to record the save.
Watertown starter Ben Ancheff suffered his first loss of the season in seven starts as he lasted only three-plus innings.
Sullivan also got to Watertown ace Zach Breen early on in Tuesday’s season opener to deal him the loss.
“They beat us in all phases of the game tonight,” Walters said. “You have to tip your cap to them and that’s why they get to host the trophy tonight.”
Coronado, Brian Brademen and Jackson each singled in a run in Sullivan’s four-run second inning.
The Watertown Indians were the last city team to win a pro baseball championship by winning the New York-Penn League title in 1995

The Desert League

The Desert League is currently the only independent baseball league competing this fall. There have been a few bumps in the road that come along with start-up leagues, but Indy Ball Island hopes to have further updates on the league here in the next week.

(All press releases/pictures taken from official league websites.)