May 5, 2018 Tournament Preview

After just three short weeks, MAW is back in action with the second tournament of 2018! On Cinco de Mayo, seven teams will be compete for first place and over $400 in cash prizes. With a six week layoff between this tournament and June's Wiffle Wars, some playoff hopefuls look to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the field, others up to reverse a slow start from April's Opening Day tournament, and a pair of first time teams attempt to make a splash.

SHORT HANDED

  Winners of three straight MAW tournaments, the Stompers will be without Jordan Robles (top right) and Nick Schaefer (bottom right) on Saturday.

Winners of three straight MAW tournaments, the Stompers will be without Jordan Robles (top right) and Nick Schaefer (bottom right) on Saturday.

Opening Day Tournament champions, the Stompers, will have an uphill battle in their quest to repeat. The team will be without both Jordan Robles and Nick Schaefer on the 5th. As a result, Chris Sarnowski will have to shoulder much of the pitching load. Sarno is coming off a title win in the first GSWL Yard League tournament of the year this past weekend and pitched eight high quality innings back in April for the Stompers. He will look to keep the momentum going on Saturday with another big performance.

The trio of Sarno and the Cooke brothers combined for 13 hits (7 for extra bases) and a .536 wOBA on Opening Day. If their bats stay hot and the team can pick up a landslide victory (or two), that should relieve some of the pressure on their otherwise temporarily limited pitch corps. The Stompers have not lost a game dating back to last September and have won three MAW tournaments in a row.

HOFFMAN UNLEASHED?

In his MAW regular season debut in April, ERL’s Blake Hoffman was limited to one game and four innings pitched. Hoffman was very good in his abbreviated debut, striking out all twelve Way Too Beautiful batters that he retired. After the tournament, ERL captain Connor Young hinted that his star southpaw would see more action the next time out. If ERL does indeed unleash Hoffman on Saturday, it could spell big trouble for the rest of the field. Blake has not yet faced any of the teams in Saturday’s tournament and Sarno is the only player with any prior plate appearances against him. That combination of opponent unfamiliarity and tremendous stuff could lead to a big day for the young pitcher.

ROSTER SHAKEUPS

  Adam Milsted will make his York Yaks' debut this Saturday, providing the team with another quality bat and arm.

Adam Milsted will make his York Yaks' debut this Saturday, providing the team with another quality bat and arm.

May 5th was supposed to be debut of the full 2018 York Yaks squad with Adam Milsted officially joining the club. While Milsted is still slated to suit up for the Yaks on Saturday, we hear that the Yaks still might not be at full strength. Reportedly, at least one Yak is scheduled play with the InHumans (in which case, the InHumans will be ineligible to earn points this tournament). Additionally – although not completely unrelated – there are rumors that Jarod Bull might not be available to pitch after suffering a non-wiffleball related injury to his pitching arm. It goes without saying that the Yaks will have a tougher go at it if they have to play without their ace. Just how the Yaks and InHumans rosters shape up will be one of the stories to watch early Saturday morning.

A team representing the Ridley Park Wiffleball League (RPWL) will be in action on Saturday. Who exactly will be on that team remains to be seen. For various reasons, RPWL will not be sending their usual traveling roster – a group that shocked some folks last year in finishing 6th at the NWLA tournament – but are expected to have a representative team present. We know league ace Tommy Loftus – out for the season recovering from a herniated disc – will be missing, but that’s about all we know at this time. Ridley Park has plenty of talented players that have the potential to make an impact including, but not limited to, Dylan Harshaw, Colin Pollag, Sean Bingnear, and Austin Bleacher.

  The match ups for pool play. Top four teams advance to single elimination round.

The match ups for pool play. Top four teams advance to single elimination round.

OLD BECOMES NEW

After getting their feet wet playing in Wiffle Up! events in the early 2000’s, The Old School Risers from Maryland’s eastern shore made their mark on the Wiffle scene in 2005 when they finished in the top half of the field (16 out of 40) at the Fast Plastic National Championship tournament. The team followed that up by dominating the Fast Plastic Maryland region in 2006. A decade later, the Risers are back in action . . . sort of.

Say hello to the New School Risers. The Old School Riser’s stalwart lefthander, Dave Capobianco, is keeping the wiffle tradition in the family and will team with his two teenage children on Saturday. Capobianco spent many years as a dependable, strike throwing southpaw and will likely lead his new Risers squad on the rubber.

  Dan Potter (Yaks) reached base 15 out of 21 plate appearances in April.

Dan Potter (Yaks) reached base 15 out of 21 plate appearances in April.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • Can Potter keep it up? The 2017 MAW hitting award winner was out of this world at the plate on Opening Day. He reached base in 15 of his 21 plate appearances, hit four homeruns, and had a tournament leading 23 total bases. It might be about time that we stop talking about Potter as one of the most underrated hitters in the game and start talking about him as one of the best hitters in the game.
  • Chris Owen’s (Barrel Bruisers) pitching line from Opening Day certainly doesn’t look impressive (6 IP, 12 R, 12 BB), but it might be a bit deceiving. Chris no hit the Cuban Raft Riders in the Bruiser’s opener, but lost 1-0 thanks for four first inning walks. He was hit hard by G€M in his second game, but once again did himself no favors with 6 walks in two innings of work. Finding a way to limit the free passes will be key for him on Saturday.
  • ERL’s two-headed pitching monster of Connor Young and Blake Hoffman did a lot of things right on April 14th, even as the team stumbled to a 1-2 record. The duo allowed only two runs (fewest among all teams), limited the number of walks to 7 in 10 innings, and led all teams with 11.6 K’s/4 IP.
  • If Soup and Blake are to pick up more wins this tournament, ERL’s offense will have to carry its own weight. On Opening Day, the team hit just .111/.200/.194. Granted, those numbers came against some stiff pitching competition but the offense will obviously need to do better. The possible season debut of Gerard Fitzgerald should help in that regard. Fitzgerald is a quality hitter who has posted a career slash line of .308/.407/.620 over three seasons in the Palisades WBL.
  • Currently, seven teams are expected to compete on Saturday. A seven-team field means a four-game round robin schedule and six games needed to win the whole thing. The additional round robin game will lead to some interesting strategy decisions for every team, particularly those that are short on pitching. To win the tournament – and barring any mercy rule wins – a team will need at least 25 innings from its pitchers compared to the usual 22 innings needed in an eight-team field.