It seems like it was only yesterday that four teams gathered in York, Pennsylvania for the inaugural MAW tournament. 133 days and four tournaments later, MAW closes out its regular season schedule with the final open-entry tournament of 2017. Eight teams – a mix of familiar and new faces – will battle it out for bragging rights, playoff positioning, and of course, cash.
The tournament brackets were drawn Live on Facebook this past Wednesday, officially setting the field for Saturday. The tournament format is a standard two pool round robin followed by a final four single elimination playoff. On paper, the pools look to be evenly balanced with a pair of playoff bound teams in both pools, the two newcomers split between the two pools, and local favorites Bacchus and InHumans are on opposite sides of the field.
We might have arrived at the end of the regular season, but not everything on Saturday will be old hat. Two teams will make their Mid Atlantic debuts this week– Band of Brothers playing out of Westminster, MD and the Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies from New Jersey. As several of the other teams in the field look to jockey for positioning in the October playoffs, these two teams will look to play spoiler and cement themselves in one afternoon as one of the top teams in the Mid Atlantic area.
Little is known about these clubs, which is often an advantage. We can confirm that both teams have players with fairly significant high school, college, and adult amateur baseball experience on their respective rosters. Band of Brothers is a classic father & son Wiffle® Ball combination. Do we have another potential Wood ‘n Bats our hands? Even less is know about the Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies, except that there is baseball experience among their team members. The team also has backyard Wiffle® Ball experience and have been amped for an opportunity to play for quite sometime after they just missed out on playing in the August 12th event. Don’t overlook either of these newcomers this weekend.
The four-team playoff field for October 7th is set. Barring any qualifying team not accepting an invitation, the playoff field will consist of the Yaks, Stompers, Bruisers, and ERL. However, the seeding is entirely up for grabs.
The surging Yaks – winners of two straight tournaments – enter September with the points lead but are just two ahead of the Stompers and Bruisers. Jarod Bull, Dan Potter, Jared Laird, and Nick Shirey will look for the 3peat on Saturday. The Stompers’ season to this point has been driven by the presence of Nick Schaefer. With their ace, the Stompers are 6-2 with a 1st and 2nd place finish. Without him, they are 2-5 with no playoff appearances. Schaefer is resting up his shoulder for the playoffs and will not be in York on Saturday. However, the Stompers – who proved with their signing of veteran Billy Owens back in June that they are willing to go the unconventional route in pursuit of a title – are rumored to have another trick up their sleeve for the season finale.
One team that hasn’t faltered without their ace is the Barrel Bruisers. Despite being without Ryan Doeppel for the last 1 ½ tournaments – and reportedly for the rest of the season – the Bruisers have continued their consistent winning ways. The team from Old Town Alexandria has seen their 5-man opening day roster diminished to two but Jerry Hill and Chris Owen continue to grind their way to victories. What they may lack on the mound they more than make up for at the plate. My Name is ERL is 2 for 2 in making it to championship games this season. They will look to make it a perfect 3 for 3 but for the second straight tournament they will [likely] have to do so without James Linhart. ERL’s Connor Young will look to put a stranglehold on the MAW Billy Owens Pitching award with a strong outing this Saturday.
The InHumans – winless in six games – have quickly become the favorites of their fellow players. Back in July – with the Yaks’ Nick Shirey handling the pitching load – the InHumans took a lead into the final inning of all three of their games (versus Bacchus is My Bro, Way Too Beautiful, and the Barrel Bruisers) only to lose all three in heartbreaking fashion. In August without Shirey, the InHumans flashed signs of great promise on the mound and at the plate. These kids may or may not pick up their first win on Saturday, but their future is bright and everyone (expect maybe their opponents) will be pulling for them to do so.
Also returning in September is Bacchus is My Bro. These York area baseball players got their feet wet back in July. Already solid hitters, if they can show some progress on the mound they could be primed to pull an upset or two. Like the InHumans, Bacchus became quick favorites through their good natured approach to the game.