Roster: Tim Beck, Dave Clark, Matt Crispe, Ray Lutick
Playing Out Of: Jackson, New Jersey
2018 MAW Record: 10-5
Signature Wins: vs. Stompers 1-0 (7/14); vs. Yaks TB (8/4); vs. Stompers 1-0 (8/18)
Versus Championship Tournament Teams: 5-4
First Game: vs. Barrel Bruisers
Why They Will Win It All: Ray Lutick not only has shutdown stuff, he can carry it deep into a tournament. Just a couple of weeks ago in Canonsburg, Ray threw 15 innings for his team in pool play and then still had enough left in the tank to go pitch-for-pitch over nine innings with a fresh Chris Sarnowski. That combination of stuff and durability is particularly scary in this tournament format. While facing Lutick after he has already thrown two or three games is preferable to facing him completely fresh, the drop off is not that significant. Ray is one of the few pitchers in the field who can throw high pressure innings for his team in the opening round and still have enough left over to be effective in the semi-finals and finals.
Having said that, there is a very real possibility that the Lemon Heads could reach the semi-finals without having to go to Lutick for more than four to six innings. On August 4th, the Lemon Heads got nearly three innings out of Matt Crispe against the same Barrel Bruisers club they will match up against to begin the Championship Tournament. Lutick eventually was forced into the game to close things out, but if the Lemon heads try something similar on the 8th and it works out, that could make them all the more dangerous later on.
Then there are the Lemon Heads’ bats, which are heating up with every tournament. All four members of the team have picked up key hits against quality pitchers in recent weeks. There are no obvious holes in this lineup. With Ray on the rubber, the team only needs a run or two per game to win and they have been able to get that more often than not in three regular season MAW tournaments. The Lemon Heads’ hitters bring both patience and power, which makes their lineup a difficult one to navigate through.
Lastly, while the Lemon Heads have yet to face My Name is ERL this season they did beat ERL’s Blake Hoffman in Canonsburg when he played for the rival Stompers. The team also has a win over the Stompers proper. No other team in the double elimination portion of the field can boast that same level of success against the top two seeds.
Why They Won’t: As impressive as Lutick has been on the carpet, he is – as far as we can tell – still human and this will be a long tournament. While the Championship tournament can be won by a lower seed in a manageable six games, the reality is that it will probably take at least seven games and could take as many as nine. That’s a minimum of 33 innings. If anyone in this field is going to pull a 1999 Billy Owens it is Lutick, but that kind of performance cannot be expected of anyone. Lutick is going to tire at some point and odds are it will happen before the Lemon Heads pick up their sixth win of the tournament.