POST SEASON RACE TIGHTENS AS YAKS TAKE TOURNAMENT #3
YORK, PA (July 15, 2017) - For the York Yaks, July 15th was essentially two tournaments in one. Fortunately for them, they saved their best for last.
The Yaks were aware going into the day that they would have to go at it without their co-captain Nick Shirey, who was playing as a member of InHumans. However, they found out just prior to the start of the tournament that their other co-captain, Jared Laird, was unable to attend. This left the Yaks with three players – ace Jarod Bull and veterans Dan Potter and Doug Wise.
The Yaks – who struggled to a 0-4 record in the June tournament – had a rough go of it during pool play. In their first game of the day, the shorthanded Yaks dropped a heartbreaker to the Stompers 2-1. The Yaks led most of the way before a few costly walks in the bottom half of the final inning led to two runs and walk-off loss. For the Stompers, it was the type of nail biting win that has defined their team during their near 20 years together.
"We went down early to the Yaks but I was proud of how Nick kept us engaged and how we were able to pull that one out,” Tim Cooke told The Drop after the game. “Jarod Bull is a terrific pitcher and we were fortunate that we walked away with a ‘W’ there."
Behind a solid pitching performance by Doug Wise, the Yaks rebounded in to beat the 1-0 Bacchus is My Bro squad in their second game of the day. In the Yaks’ final pool play game, Dan Potter took the ball against the debuting Way Too Beautiful. Potter was excellent at the plate, reaching base in 5 of his 7 appearances during the game, which included a triple and a homerun. He wasn’t quite as sharp on the other side of the ball and the duo of Adam Milsted and Ben Stant plated eight early runs en route to an 8-4 W2B win. The loss left the hometown favorite Yaks at 1-2 and in need of some help to reach the elimination round.
The Yaks received that help when the Barrel Bruisers (1-1) defeated Shirey’s scrappy InHumans team (0-2) in the final round robin game of the day. The result clinched the 3rd seed in the tournament playoffs for the Bruisers, eliminated InHumans, and put the Yaks in the playoffs by virtue of holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over Bacchus. Shirey was pleased with his team’s scrappy performance. “Inhumans are very happy and proud of our performance. We held the lead in all three of our games entering the final inning, I just couldn’t hold it down."
In tournament Wiffle® Ball, it is not how well you start as much as it as how well you finish. The Yaks’ two losses during pool play would be meaningless if they could find a way to win their next two. First up was a re-match with Way Too Beautiful on Sheff field, while the Stompers battled the Barrel Bruisers in the other semi-final matchup over on Sam Horn.
The Yaks put the ball in the hands of their ace, Jarrod Bull, who was relatively fresh after only working one game in round robin. The five-inning matchup was a pitcher’s dual early on with Bull and Milsted putting up zeroes through the first three frames. The turning point of the Yaks’ tournament – and possibly their season – came in the 4th inning of this game. Wise walked to open things up and Bull followed with a single through the middle. A change of balls appeared to return Milsted to his previous groove. He struck out Potter and Wise and looked to be in good position to escape the jam. Jarod Bull, however, had other ideas. Ahead in the count, Bull stroked a hanger off of the fence in right-center field for a triple that plated two-runs. W2B didn’t go down quietly and a two out double off the bat of Ben Stant in the bottom of the 5th made it a one-run game. Bull regrouped, however, and induced a swinging strikeout on Milsted to end the game. The win put the Yaks in the title game for the first time all season.
For the W2B duo, it was a tough end to a very good tournament. Milsted and Stant tore through round robin only to see their tournament hopes dashed on essentially one pitch. Nick Shirey was impressed.
“Milsted can absolutely rake. Stant is right with him . . . and oh year, pretty good pitchers, too!"
The Yaks’ title game foes were the Stompers, who prevailed over the Barrel Bruisers 2-0 courtesy of a clutch 2-run homerun from first ballot Hall of Famer, Billy Owens, who was making his Stomper debut. The Stompers also got another strong pitching performance from the always clutch Nick Schaefer. Schaefer – who missed the June tournament while he recovered from a shoulder ailment – took on a heavier pitching workload than anticipated and to nobody’s surprise, asked for the ball in the championship game.
"Nick [Schaefer] is in a really good place mentally and physically,” Cooke stated post-tournament. “He's as good as anyone on the mound in MAW."
The championship game was a classic pitcher’s dual between Schaefer and Bull. After five innings, neither team had managed to score and the game headed to extra innings. After narrowly avoiding disaster against Potter several times early in the game, Schaefer worked around him for the remainder of the game, attempting to get Potter to chase balls off of the plate. The strategy worked fine for a couple of innings but in the sixth, Potter walked twice to put runners at first and second with two outs for Doug Wise. With little room for error, Schaefer went after Wise with a riser that caught too much of the plate. Wise crushed the pitch hitting it over the left field fence for a 3-run tie breaking home run.
Three runs were more than enough for Bull, who pitched brilliantly for all six innings of the championship game just as he had for much of the tournament. The Stompers went quietly in the bottom half of the six and the Yaks captured their first tournament title of the season.
"Bull in the championship game was outstanding,” Stompers’ captain Tim Cooke remarked after his team’s championship game loss. “You have a guy with the raw talent who is really athletic and tall. He hides the ball really well in his delivery. I think we had the most swings and misses at non strikes in that game and that's because of his really good deception."
Bull was named the tournament MVP, but the contributions of his two teammates did not go unnoticed by the competition.
“Dan Potter started three double plays with insane grabs – even if some were in non double play situation!” Shirey commented on one of his longtime teammates. “Dougy [Wise] has a flare for the dramatic – big time!!”
Tim Cooke had his own praise for the Yaks’ Potter.
“Potter may be the best defensive player in MAW. The same goes for his bat. It is really impressive. Hopefully he will be others teams problems in August and September."
The Yaks took home $500 for their efforts and perhaps just as importantly, 6 huge points in the playoff standings to move them into a tie with the Barrel Bruisers for second place with two tournaments left to play.
Here and There
Through three tournaments, the Barrel Bruisers have proven to be MAW’s most consistent team. The Alexandria, VA based team has won at least two games in every tournament and it seems like only a matter of time before they bring home that elusive tournament title . . . The Nick Shirey-captained InHumans team led going into the final inning of each of their three games only to lose all three in heartbreaking fashion . . . New sign additions to the Sheff Field outfield wall included signs for the Barrel Bruisers and Stompers, as well as a new “Wall of Wifflers” section dedicated to legends of the game. Three time National Champion Billy Owens – who played as part of the Stompers for the day – was honored with the first plague on the Wall . . . Owens was known for his arm during his prime, but Tim Cooke was more impressed with his bat on Saturday. “I was really pleased with how he helped balance the top of the order . . . The home run of Doeppel was obviously huge.” . . . With Jarrod Bull’s strong 15-innings of work on Saturday, the race for rookie of the year in MAW is really heating up. Bull and the Bruisers’ Ryan Doeppel are neck-and-neck in the battle for best first year player . . . In the third place game, Way Too Beautiful defeated the Barrel Bruisers to earn four points towards the playoff standings.
After their impressive victory in the June tournament, My Name is ERL went on a brief hiatus while their captain, Connor Young, spent a couple of months on the other side of the country. ERL is expected to be back on the field in York on August 12th and will no doubt be looking to pick up right where they left off with another tournament victory.
With league play winding down all over the country, don’t miss your last two chances to get in some Wiffle® action before the summer is gone for good! Visit www.midatlanticwiffle.com today to register for the August 12 or September 9th tournaments!