Jersey Lemon Heads

Mid Atlantic Offseason News & Notes #2

The Lemon Heads Double Down

The flurry of activity at the onset of the 2018/2019 Mid Atlantic offseason has left all of us playing catch up and collectively asking, “Wait . . . who is on what team now?” Throughout the winter months we will sort through the madness by taking a team by team look at the some of the squads you can expect to see next season.

In their first full season of competitive fast pitch wiffs, the Jersey Lemon Heads came within one run of winning the 2018 Mid Atlantic Championship. In the Championship Tournament, the Lemon Heads pushed the eventual champions, the Stompers, to the limit in an extra-inning decisive game three that showed off the team’s natural talents and wiffleball acumen. All told, the foursome from Jackson compiled a 15-9 (.625) record in MAW tournaments and established themselves as legitimate contenders going forward.

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With results like that, it is understandable that the Lemon Heads might opt to stand pat going into ’19. The team did announce that they will be returning their core four – Tim Beck, Dave Clark, Matt Crispe, and Ray Lutick. Those four will be joined by Atlanta Wiffleball’s Don Thomas for the Winter Classic and it is rumored that Dave Capobianco (New School Risers, Old School Risers) will be added to the roster for the spring and summer season. Otherwise, the team is content to play the pat hand. The downside in doing so is that it leaves the Lemons with just one pitcher – Lutick – depending on the availability and status of Capobianco. As good as Lutick is and as durable as he was in 2018, putting all the pitching eggs in one basket is always a risk.

On the flip side, the Lemon Heads proved they can win with their core four and there is still plenty of upside to be unlocked. For example, while it might be tempting to think of the Lemon Heads as a one-man pitching driven show, a closer look at their late season performance reveals an offense potentially on the cusp of breaking out. Clark is primed for a big 2019 if his performance in the 2018 Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament is in an indicator. In a tournament where pitching carried the day and offense was hard to come by (the combined slash line was a miniscule .155/.306/.255) Clark hit a respectable .241/.323/.345. Equally as important, he did so against quality pitching. Clark wore out ERL’s Connor Young and Blake Hoffman in the semi-finals by going 8 for 20 with a double, triple, and five walks. Beck had a propensity for the big hit – especially in August and September – and he is the team’s best in-house chance at developing a secondary pitcher if given regular reps. The Lemon Heads were also without Crispe – their most consistent hitter during the regular season – for the final regular season tournament and Championship Tournament. Putting his bat in the lineup on a regular basis is almost like an adding another player. There are many reasons to believe that the Lemon Heads have yet to really approach their potential which makes them a potentially dangerous force in 2019.

Winter Classic 2

MAW will hold the second annual Winter Classic on February 9-10, 2019 at In the Net in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  The overnight tournament, which will be played on regulation sized MAW fields with a 70-foot high ceiling, is filling up fast. For more information, go to www.midatlanticwiffle.com/2019winterclassic or contact Tim Cooke at timcooke1982@gmail.com or via phone/text at 301-661-7980.  There is a limited number of teams that can be accepted and you don’t want to miss out on the premiere fast pitch wiffs tournament this winter. 

Here and There

The third season of the CFOT Winter Wiffle league kicks off January 11th! The league that brings us the Barrel Bruisers and has produced Jerry Hill, Chris Owen, Tony Manelli, and Ryan Doeppel, among others, boasts one of the game’s most unique playing venues. In addition to those listed above, the league has several other players worth keeping an eye on (two of which Jerry recently highlighted.) Games are Friday evenings and late Sunday morning and all of the action can be followed on the league’s Facebook page . . . The Wiff is Life League’s annual medium pitch Fall Tournament on Black Friday was won by EHP, who came out of the loser’s bracket to defeat the Beavers twice in the championship. Juggernauts’ captain Chris Sarno pitched every game for the champions on his way to the MVP award while Gino Joseph contributed with many big hits and above average defense all tournament long. WILL returns in about one month with their annual winter tourney . . . In the last Offseason News & Notes, we noted that Yaks’ captain Nick Shirey feared he suffered a second SLAP tear just months after having surgery to repair that same injury. Unfortunately, the early diagnosis held up and you can add a torn rotator cuff for good measure. The Yaks have not yet made an official announcement on Shirey’s status for the 2019 season . . . MAW officials are currently considering several options to upgrade the organization’s statistics presentation for 2019. The goal is to incorporate batter vs. pitcher and split data for the 2019 season.

2018 Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament: Timeline

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The 2018 Mid Atlantic Championship began at 9:10 AM ET with the Longballs’ Tyler Nachbar taking a called strike from the Yaks’ Jarod Laird and ended nine hours later with a walk off single in extra innings of Game 3 of the championship series. Here are some of the moments - one from each of the day’s thirteen games - that defined the tournament.

9:20 AM – Sheff - Longballs vs. yaks
Harshaw’s Home Run

After Sean Bingnear reached on a walk and Colin Pollag struck out to start the bottom of the 2nd inning, Longballs’ captain Dylan Harshaw stepped in the box against the Yaks’ Jared Laird. Behind in the count 0-2, Harshaw deposited a hanging drop pitch over the Wall of Wifflers to put the Longballs up 2-0. The Ridley Park crew would hold on to take game one.

10:12 AM – Buffalo - Bruisers vs. Lemon Heads
“Yea Baby!” - Hill Escapes jam & Celebrates

With two outs in the bottom of the 5th and the winning run in scoring position, the Barrel Bruiser’s Jerry Hill got the Lemon Heads’ Ray Lutick to ground back towards the carpet. Jerry pounced on the ball, partook in a rare mid-play celebration, and competed the throw to escape the jam. Although the Bruisers would eventually lose in six innings on total bases, the Bruisers gave the eventual runners up all they could handle.

10:40 AM – Buffalo - Longballs vs. Lemon Heads
Pollag’s HR Sends the Longballs to the Semi’s

In a battle to see who would face the Stompers in the semi-finals, the Jersey Lemon Heads and Ridley Park Longballs entered the 3rd inning locked at zero. After taking a riser right over the plate, Colin Pollag unloaded on a Ray Lutick dropper and deposited the ball over the left field fence. The solo shot held up and the Longballs punched their ticket to the semi-finals

11:10 AM – Sheff – Barrel Bruisers vs. York Yaks
That was brutal” – Milsted & the Yaks stay alive

Adam Milsted paints the outside corner of the strike zone to get Jerry Hill looking. The strikeout keeps the Yaks’ championship hopes alive while eliminating the Barrel Bruisers from the tournament.

11:50 AM – Sheff – Lemon Heads vs. York Yaks
Clark’s Clutch 2b Puts the Lemon Heads in Front

Things changed in a hurry in the Lemon Heads and Yaks elimination game. With two outs in the third and no score, Ray Lutick draws a walk and Dave Clark immediately cashes in with an RBI double. The Lemon Heads hold on and secure the last spot in the semi-finals, eliminating the Yaks in the process.

12:29 PM – Sheff – Lemon Heads vs. ERL (G1)
Clark’s Triple Knocks out Hoffman

Dave Clark brings Blake Hoffman’s day on the mound to a premature end with a 2-run triple in the top of the first inning. Connor Young would stem the tide, but the damage was already done and the Lemon Heads take game one.

12:35 PM – Buffalo – Longballs vs. Stompers (G1)
Robles Goes Deep in First At Bat

In his first at bat of the Championship Tournament, 2017 Championship Tournament MVP Jordan Robles went deep off the Longballs’ Sean Bingnear. The run stood up and the Stompers took game one of the semi-finals by a score of 1-0.

1:35 PM – Buffalo – Stompers vs. Longballs (g2)
Sarno Strikes Out Bingnear; Stompers advance

With a steady rain falling, two runners on, and two outs, Sarno trikes out Sean Bingnear to wrap up a win for the Stompers and send the Longballs home.

2:22 PM – Sheff – Lemon Heads vs. ERL (G2)
“I’ve got plenty left!” – Soup Forces a Game 3

Mere minutes after breaking a 7th inning tie with a solo home run, Connor Young finishes off the Lemon Heads’ Ray Lutick to force a game 3.

3:19 PM – Sheff – Lemon Heads vs. ERL (G3 - post-game)
“We’re really excited. We don’t get here often.” – Lemon Heads Advance to the Finals

Moments after punching their ticket to the finals, the Lemon Heads chat with MAW’s Nick Schaefer about their improbable run to the finals 

4:11 PM – Sheff – Lemon Heads vs. Stompers (g1)
Tim Beck & the Lemon Heads Strike First

Tim Beck stays hot by taking Jordan Robles deep to straight away center for a second inning solo home run. Ray Lutick would see to it that the run held up and the Lemon Heads take the first game of the Championship Series 1-0.

4:45 PM – Sheff – Lemon Heads vs. Stompers (G2)
Robles Strikes Backs

Robles extracts a small measure of revenge with a home run of his own in Game 2. The Stompers tack on several runs from there to even the series at one game apiece.

6:09 PM – Sheff – Lemon Heads vs. Stompers (G3)
There It is!” - Tim Cooke Walks It Off

The marathon final game of the day comes to an end in the 7th inning when Stompers’ captain Tim Cooke singles back up the middle to drive in the game’s only run, giving the Stompers both the game and the 2018 Championship

2018 Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament Recap

The Stompers’ Jordan Robes delivers a pitch to the Lemon Heads’ Ray Lutick during the championship series with ERL’s Connor Young providing commentary in the background.

The Stompers’ Jordan Robes delivers a pitch to the Lemon Heads’ Ray Lutick during the championship series with ERL’s Connor Young providing commentary in the background.

Six months ago, Mid Atlantic’s sophomore season commenced with the 8-team Opening Day tournament. In The Drop’s recap of that event, we highlighted the well-balanced nature of the field by noting that thirteen of the tournament’s fifteen games were decided by three runs or less. As it turned out, that level of balance and competitiveness would be a staple of the 2018 MAW season.

It is only fitting, therefore, that the Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament – the culmination of the MAW summer season – was yet another tournament decided by the thinnest of margins. Of the thirteen games played on Saturday, eleven were decided by three runs or less. Two of the three 3-game series went the distance, a trio of games required extra innings, and the eventual runners up were one out away from losing their very first game of the day to the one team that went winless in the tournament. From the very first pitch of the day to the very last, there was little margin of error for any team or any player.


The Barrel Bruisers’ Jerry Hill delivers a pitch while teammate Tony Manelli gets set in the infield.

The Barrel Bruisers’ Jerry Hill delivers a pitch while teammate Tony Manelli gets set in the infield.

The tournament format ensured that one team – and only one team – would leave York without a win. While the smart money was on that team being the Barrel Bruisers – which ultimately would be the case – no team better exemplified the nail-biting nature of this tournament. Bucking conventional wisdom, captain Jerry Hill took the ball in his team’s first game against the Lemon Heads. When the Lemon Heads’ Tim Beck allowed a pair of runs in the first – and was quickly removed in favor of Ray Lutick – Hill recognized a big opening to pull off an upset. At a stage where most wifflers are putting their plastic balls away for good, Hill has quietly and steadily grown into a solid pitcher. Working out of the stretch and relying heavily on a three-quarters drop, Hill pitched the game of his Wiffle Ball life against the Lemon Heads, holding them scoreless through three innings while the Bruisers clung to their two-run lead. 

A familiar refrain for the Barrel Bruisers this year has been their inability to close out games late. Unfortunately for them, that refrain would play out one more time this season. In the 4th inning, the Lemon Heads put together a string of patient at bats, which led to their first run of the game. With the bases loaded, Hill only needed a single out to pull off the shocker but issued a game tying walk instead. Jerry rebounded immediately by getting the final out of the inning and escaping another jam in the 5th, but the damage had already been done. The Barrel Bruisers dropped their opener on total bases and couldn’t muster up any magic against the Yaks, exiting the tournament in two games.

One out removed from pulling off a major upset to two-and-done, the Bruisers will carry that sudden turn-of-events with them all winter long. However, their tournament – as brief as it was – is also a testament to the their tenacity and competitive nature.  


Dylan Harshaw of the Longballs digs in during a semi-final series game.

Dylan Harshaw of the Longballs digs in during a semi-final series game.

In the Championship Tournament preview, we pointed to the Ridley Park Longballs’ depth as their greatest strength and the major reason why they had a chance at winning it all. The Longballs didn’t disappoint in that regard, steamrolling through the double elimination portion of the day thanks to contributions from all four team members. In going 2-0 and grabbing the #3 seed, the Longballs took down both the York Yaks and Lemon Heads. Although the games were anything but, the Longballs made those early games look easy through a combination of shutdown pitching and timely hitting.

Sean Bingnear – the 2018 MAW Rookie of the Year runner up – handled a tough Yaks’ squad with the command and poise of a veteran. The Yaks took quality swings against Bingnear from the first pitch to the last, but the hard throwing righty continually found ways to get them out. The fact that the Longballs were so willing and able to use their best arm in the first game was, if nothing else, a testament to their ballyhooed depth. Southpaw Tyler Nachbar picked right up where Bingnear left off when facing the Lemon Heads in game two. Nachbar – with one win against the Lemon Heads already on the season – allowed his opponents very few scoring opportunities and pitched his team to a narrow 1-0 win. Although Nachbar and Bingnear are considered rookies for MAW award purposes, the poise they showed in pressure situations on Saturday is a direct result of their years of experience in the Ridley Park Wiffleball League and their national experience at the NWLA Tournament.

All the shutout innings in the world from Bingnear and Nachbar may have been for not if it wasn’t for the clutch hitting of their teammates, Dylan Harshaw and Colin Pollag. Harshaw got the scoring going with a two-run opposite field blast off a game Jared Laird in the Longballs’ opener. Against the Lemon Heads, it was the Colin Pollag show. Pollag hit Ray Lutick as well as any player all tournament long, picking up three hits including a solo shot. The solo home run – a no doubter that Colin pulled over the left field fence on Buffalo – held up as the game winner. So good was Pollag against the Lutick that late in the game Ray decided to intentionally walk Colin rather than risk any further damage.

Although the Longballs’ bats could not solve Chris Sarnowski in the semi-finals – leading to a quiet exit in the semi-finals – the Ridley Park crew were the most impressive of any team in the opening round thanks to their vaunted depth. If the Longballs add Tommy Loftus to their MAW roster next season – which they are rumored to do – that depth is only going to get deeper and scarier.


First year Yak Adam Milsted delivers a pitch to the Bruisers’ Jerry Hill in the day’s first elimination game.

First year Yak Adam Milsted delivers a pitch to the Bruisers’ Jerry Hill in the day’s first elimination game.

In the finals of the repechage bracket, the York Yaks’ Adam Milsted was cruising right along through the first 2 2/3’s innings. Sure, the Yaks’ offense still had that pesky task of trying to figure out how to score off Ray Lutick but it looked as if Milsted was going to give the offense ample time to figure Ray out. Games could – and did – change in an instance all day long, however, and Milsted was about to experience that firsthand.

With two outs in the third, Milsted temporarily struggled with his mechanics and issued what looked to be a harmless walk to Lutick. One minute and one Dave Clark double later, that walk no longer looked so harmless. Just like that, the Yaks were staring down the barrel of elimination and were indeed knocked out not too long after.

It was that kind of day for the hometown team. Jared Laird appeared to have a little extra giddy up on his pitches against the Longballs, but a walk and well-timed home run did him in. The Yaks left the tournament with a +5 run differential, but that matters little when two games are lost by a combined margin of 3 runs. Milsted and Laird pitched reasonably well, but runs were hard to come by for the Yaks on this day. A key hit here or there from the Yaks’ hitters and the 2018 Championship Tournament may have played out in significantly different fashion.


With a steady rain falling around him, Connor Young (My Name is ERL) goes into his patented windup.

With a steady rain falling around him, Connor Young (My Name is ERL) goes into his patented windup.

Nobody can win on will alone. I know this to be true. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit to momentarily questioning that fact while watching Connor Young play in game two of the semi-final series.

The Championship Tournament did not go as the top seeded My Name is ERL planned. Pitching in a steady rain, Rookie of the Year winner Blake Hoffman struggled early in the first semi-final game against the Lemon Heads and got the hook before he ever got a chance to redeem himself. ERL’s offense struggled all game and a straight two-game sweep did not seem out of the question at the time.

Young, however, would not allow that to happen. He returned for game two – after a lengthy pause in the action – with even more steadfast resolve than he brings to a “normal” game. Soup pitched a brilliant game, exploiting whatever little holes could be found in the Lemon Heads’ lineup while waiting for his pitch at the plate.  

That pitch finally came in the top of the 7th inning with only one frame left to be played before the total bases tiebreaker kicked in. Young got a hold of a Lutick drop pitch and hit it out over the season awards wall in right-center – Young’s go-to home run spot on Sheff. Screaming out “I told you I’d get mine!” he returned to his bench and focused on finishing off the game. In the bottom half of the inning, Young made quick work of his opponents, punctuating the final strike out with a fist bump while loudly letting everyone know that he still had plenty left in the tank.

In the moment, it certainly seemed like Young would push his team into the finals any way possible. If winning was as simple as willing it into existence, Young and ERL almost certainly would have taken the third game of the series. It never is, however, and despite Young’s heroics and positive energy, ERL was bounced from the tournament before the championship series.


Ray Lutick of the Lemon Heads - shown here pitching to Colin Pollag - was named tournament MVP.

Ray Lutick of the Lemon Heads - shown here pitching to Colin Pollag - was named tournament MVP.

When MAW organizers put together the format for the six-team Championship Tournament prior to the start of the season, there was some concern about a team potentially playing nine games in a single day and the impact that might have on their pitchers. In the end, MAW concluded that it would take a perfect storm for that to happen. That team would have to start in the double elimination bracket and go two-for-three every single round, which from a pure odds standpoint was a long shot. In the unlikely event that storm occurred, surely that team would have to be at least three pitchers deep to get that far and thus there would not be too much strain placed on the arm of any one pitcher.

The problem with that logic was nobody took the Lemon Heads and Ray Lutick into account.

After a near loss to the Bruisers, the Lemon Heads weren’t as lucky against the Longballs and dropped to the loser’s bracket, thus ensuring they would play the maximum three games during the opening round. In getting by the Yaks, the Lemon Heads officially reached the semi-finals, but it would have been a stretch at that time to state that they had any significant momentum on their side. After all, they had scored just one run in three games entering the series with ERL. That didn’t matter one bit to this New Jersey-based club as they knew that with Ray on the mound, one timely hit per game was all that was required – momentum be damned.

The Lemon Heads, of course, are by no means a one-man team and that showed as the day progressed. Dave Clark had the game-defining hits against the Yaks and in game one of the ERL series. Tim Beck had the game winning hit in the third game against ERL and then he took Jordan Robles deep early in the first game of the finals. Ray’s pitching and the Lemon Head’s timely hitting helped create the aforementioned perfect storm whereby the Lemon Heads won when they got a timely hit and lost when they didn’t, resulting in the team playing the maximum number of games in the day.

Somehow Lutick’s right arm stayed in one piece through it all. Throwing the bulk of all nine games his team played, Ray racked up an unbelievable number of innings and strikeouts on his way to the tournament MVP award. The Lemon Heads long day is – in one respect – a once in a lifetime run. It is almost certainly not, however, the last time the Lemon Heads will be in the finals of a major tournament. And the scary thing is, this team is only going to get better. 


The Stompers’ Jordan Robles awaits a pitch during the Championship Series. Robles had a big home run and threw 18 quality innings in the series to pick up a second straight title for his team.

The Stompers’ Jordan Robles awaits a pitch during the Championship Series. Robles had a big home run and threw 18 quality innings in the series to pick up a second straight title for his team.

The Stompers franchise celebrated its 20th anniversary this season. After a rare crooked number win, the longest tenured members of the team will often joke that winning in that fashion is not “the Stompers’ way”. No matter the roster – which has obviously changed over the years – the Stompers have long made a habit out of making things hard on themselves. For a team that made its name on winning ugly, the 2018 Mid Atlantic Championship turned out to be an appropriately themed anniversary gift.

The defending Mid Atlantic champions slogged through the rain to take two straight games from the Ridley Longballs thanks to two more shutout performances from Chris Sarno in a season full of them. The mere presence of rain was itself a reminder of the team’s past, as the franchise’s memorable 2003 postseason run took place almost entirely in wet conditions in both New Jersey and Texas.

With a fresh Jordan Robles on the carpet to start the finals, the Stompers felt good about their chances, but those good feelings went away in an instant courtesy of Tim Beck’s second inning home run. Just like that, the Stompers had their backs against the wall. The outlook improved slightly with a win game two, but even that was a drawn out contest marred by a disputed tag play. Speaking of long and drawn out, the deciding game of the series felt – at times – as if it would never end. The ever dangerous Chris Sarno was issued intentional walk after intentional walk, but the other Stompers’ failed to get him in. From the second inning through the seventh, the team had bases loaded each inning but failed to score. To the Stompers’ credit, Robles kept the Lemon Heads at bay and was never in serious danger of being scored upon in the third game. At long last – and appropriately enough – Stomper founder and captain Tim Cooke poked a Lutick dropper into centerfield for the game-ending single.

The path to a second straight Mid Atlantic title certainly wasn’t pretty, but then again with the Stompers, it rarely ever is.


Although the champion remained the same, there is no doubt that the 2018 Mid Atlantic Championship was a significant step up from the 2017 iteration. From the cash purse - up $1,200 to $2,500 - to the robust live streaming schedule and the previously mentioned high level of competition, everything was a little bit bigger and better this September. Even the rain couldn’t dampen what was a an excellent day of wiffs and a fitting end to a quality season in the Mid Atlantic. MAW officials would like to thank all of the Championship Tournament teams as well as every single team and player that competed in a Mid Atlantic tournament this season.

Planning is already under way for the 2019 season, which will be here sooner than you think . . .

2018 Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament Overview

A memorable and competitive summer of Wiffleball in the Mid Atlantic area comes to a head on Saturday, September 8th at the second annual Mid Atlantic Championship tournament!

The six teams that have earned their way to this point will compete for $2,500 in cash prizes and the title of 2018 Mid Atlantic Champions. The teams competing on September 8th participated in multiple Mid Atlantic regular season tournaments, accrued points based on their finishes in those tournaments, and placed in the top six in the final point standings. The Championship field is a mix of veteran teams and players, several of the best players in the sport, and a plethora of up-and-coming players that – if they aren’t already – will very soon be on radar of every serious wiffler.

For ongoing team-by-team previews, see below and continue reading beyond the jump for a full run down of what you can expect to see on the 8th in York.

Ridley Park Longballs Preview
Barrel Bruisers Preview
Jersey Lemon Heads Preview
York Yaks Preview
Stompers Preview
My Name is ERL Preview

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The 2018 Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament is the culmination of a six-tournament regular season that began on April 14th in York, PA and wrapped up on August 18th in Canonsburg, PA. This is the second year in a row that MAW will host a championship tournament. The Stompers outlasted My Name is ERL, York Yaks, and Barrel Bruisers to win the 2017 Mid Atlantic Championship last October. The Championship Tournament field expanded from four teams to six teams prior to the 2018 season to account for the increased participation in Mid Atlantic tournaments.

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The top six teams in the point standings – as listed in the graphic above – all accepted their bids to the Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament and will be in action on the 8th.

As announced prior to the start of the 2018 season, the six-team Championship Tournament format provides byes to the top two teams in the point standings – the Stompers and My Name is ERL. The remaining four teams will compete in a modified double elimination bracket to determine the 3rd and 4th seeds for the Best of 3 semi-finals. This is a double elimination bracket with one exception – the winner of the champion’s bracket and repechage bracket will not face each other. Instead, the team that goes 2-0 will become the #3 seed in the semi-finals and the team that goes 2-1 will become the #4 seed in the semi-finals. The other two teams will be eliminated from the Championship Tournament. The games in this opening round will be four inning regulation games. Home field advantage and the right to choose which field to play on during this round will belong to the highest seed. The Yaks, therefore, will hold home field advantage throughout this round.

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The semi-final round will kick off around noon with the Stompers (#2 seed) facing the team that comes out of the winner’s bracket and My Name is ERL (#1 seed) facing the team that comes out of the repechage bracket. The winners of these two Best of 3 series will meet in a Best of 3 championship series. All semi-final and championship series games will be five inning regulation games. Seeds will re-reset for the semi-finals and finals, with the team that comes out of the winner’s bracket assuming the #3 seed. The higher seeded team in the semi-finals and finals will have home field advantage in games one and three (if necessary), with the lower seeded team being home in the second game of each three game series.

The top four teams will finish in the money, meaning the two teams that survive the double elimination portion of the day will go home with a little cash for their accomplishment. The payout is as follows:

  • 3rd & 4th Place - $150 each
  • 2nd Place - $400
  • 1st Place - $1,800
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Games will start at approximately 9:00 AM ET. For those who want to follow along, MAW will go live on Facebook (www.facebook.com/midatlanticwiffle) at approximately 9:00 AM with the Longballs vs. Yaks game. The broadcast will continue straight on through to the winner’s bracket game, which will decide who will face the Stompers in the semi-finals. The morning broadcast will include commentary. In the afternoon, at least one semi-final game and one game in the finals will be streamed live. Follow the MAW Facebook page and MAW Twitter (@midatlanticwiff) to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the live action.

In addition, the 2018 Mid Atlantic regular season award winners will be announced in between the double elimination round and the semi-finals. Who is this year's Mike Palinczar Most Valuable Player award winner and this year's Joe Nord Rookie of the Year winner? Find out on the 8th!

2018 Championship Tournament Preview: Jersey Lemon Heads

Roster: Tim Beck, Dave Clark, Matt Crispe, Ray Lutick

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Playing Out Of: Jackson, New Jersey

2018 MAW Record: 10-5

Seed: 4th

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.

Highlights:

Canonsburg Classic (August 18, 2018) Tournament Recap

Gino Joseph (Left) and Austin Berger (Right) shake hands following the 3rd place game.

Gino Joseph (Left) and Austin Berger (Right) shake hands following the 3rd place game.

The hungry and talented 2018 NWLA Tournament Champions on the hunt for another 2018 tournament title. A second-time tournament team seeking marked improvement over their recent debut. One of the most active and best teams in the country over the past thirty-five days. The second-place team in the 2018 MAW point standings joined by – for one day only – a key player on the team they are looking up at in the standings.

This was the eclectic four-team field that assembled in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania for MAW’s final tournament of the 2018 season and the organization’s first regular season tournament away from Shi Wiffleball Park. As different as these four teams are in terms of makeup and motivation, they were nonetheless evenly matched. Of the eight games played on Saturday, all but one was decided by three runs or less and six came down to just a single run. There was little margin of error for any team the entire tournament.

After a disappointing – but not all that atypical – tournament debut on August 4th, the Revolution’s Gino Joseph vowed to one day be among the best in the game. If the improvement Gino showed in the two-weeks between Backyard Brawl and the Canonsburg Classic is indicative of his future learning curve, he will reach his goal sooner than anyone expected.

On the 4th Gino – working mainly with non-scuffed, beat up balls – struggled with his command to the tune of a 58% walk rate. His 3-pitch mix of riser, drop, and screwball was impressive for a rookie, but the strike zone eluded him. On the 18th, Gino showed up in Canonsburg with that same 3-pitch mix, only this time he brought along added velocity and much improved command. The results speak for themselves. Joseph allowed 14 runs while working all 18 innings for the Revolution. His 3.11 ERA (per 4 IP) is a drastic improvement over his 24.00 ERA in five innings two weeks earlier. Aside from an 8-0 loss to the Stompers, Joseph kept opposing hitters in check and gave his offense plenty of chances to pull out a victory. The Revolution once again went winless but if they can find a way to put up a few runs for their ace and perhaps develop another pitcher behind Gino, they will have an opportunity to make some noise in 2019.

Just one month earlier, the Wiff is Life League (“WILL”) sent shockwaves throughout the National Wiffleball League Association (“NWLA”) ranks when their team went 5-0 in the double elimination round of the NWLA Tournament to take home the title. Like many teams over the years, the WILL Waves’ ascension to tournament champions was quick and sudden, prompting some to label them as a Cinderella squad – the beneficiaries of one magical day. For their part, the Waves have brushed off those remarks and plan to prove that what happened in Morenci was no fluke.

Mike Graziani (Waves) gets ready to deliver a pitch.

Mike Graziani (Waves) gets ready to deliver a pitch.

To their immense credit, the Waves have not rested on their laurels, instead taking on the challenge of competing in a tournament with vastly different rules than the NWLA Tournament. Armed with cut balls and big barrel bats, the Waves made relatively quick work of the Revolution behind Mike Graziani’s arm (5 IP, 0 runs, 14 K’s) and Jake Davey’s bat (3-6, 2B, 3B, 2 R).

Steven Keelon – who held a lean and locked in My Name is ERL offense of Connor Young, Gerard Fitzgerald, and Dan Whitener to two runs over three innings back at MAW’s June event – took the ball against the Lemon Heads in game two. Keelon immediately walked the first three batters, which threatened to place his team in an insurmountable hole. That’s when Davey and the Waves’ experience with larger rosters – common at the NWLA tournament – came into play. The Waves went with a 3-man lineup this game to give their better hitters as many reps as possible. With Keelon unable to find the zone, Davey summoned ace Austin Berger off the bench to put the fire out. Berger nearly did that as he struck out the side but not before allowing a pair of runs on two wild pitches. The Waves immediately fought back in the bottom half of the inning, scoring one run and stranding a couple more. Berger kept the Lemon Heads in check the rest of the way, striking out 15 batters and allowing just a single hit. Davey went to his bench once again in the bottom of the 5th – subbing Graziani in for Berger as a pinch hitter with the idea that Mike would stay in as the pitcher should the Waves tie the game – but Graziani went down swinging to finish off a 2-1 defeat.

[WATCH: Lemon Heads vs. Waves Full Game]

Berger got right back at it against the Stompers, racking up an additional nine K’s thanks to a plus screwball that he was able to locate on both sides of the zone. Unfortunately, one pitch told the story of this game for Berger and the Waves and they fell to the Stompers 1-0. The Waves finished strong, defeating the Revolution in the third-place game behind a tag team effort on the carpet from Graziani and Davey. While they certainly hoped to reach the title game, the Waves’ proved that no matter the rules, they can compete with top-level teams. Their +4-run differential was the second best of the tournament. Keep an eye out for the Waves in MAW and elsewhere next year – these guys are gamers no matter the style of play.

The Lemon Heads made the long trek from New Jersey to western Pennsylvania in search of their first tournament title. The Lemon Heads made their first appearance of 2018 back at MAW’s Backyard Brawl on July 14th. Heading into Canonsburg, the team had played in three competitive fast pitch tournaments in just over a month, compiling an impressive record of 13-4 along the way. Over the past month and change, there haven’t been many teams better anywhere in the country than the Lemon Heads.

Despite those quality results, the Lemon Heads arrived in Canonsburg still in search of their first tournament title. For much of the day, it looked like they were going to get what they came for. The group picked up a huge early win when they knocked off the Stompers 1-0 thanks to triples from Tim Beck and Dave Clark. The team’s ace, Ray Lutick, took over from that point, pitching his squad past the Waves and Revolution in a pair of low scoring contests. The Lemon Heads had strong at bats all tournament long and their offense continues to improve every time out. They found ways to score just enough runs to make Lutick’s strong pitching performances stand up.

Ray Lutick (Lemon Heads) went 3-1 on the carpet and within run of pitching his team to their first tournament championship.

Ray Lutick (Lemon Heads) went 3-1 on the carpet and within run of pitching his team to their first tournament championship.

At 3-0, the team seemed well-positioned to win that elusive championship. For nine innings, Lutick – working his fourth game of the day – went toe-to-toe with his much fresher opponent, the Stompers’ Chris Sarno. Unfortunately, it was heartbreak yet again for the Jersey boys. In the top of the 9th, Sarno hit a solo home run to give his team the lead and then shut the door in the bottom half of the inning on the carpet. Nonetheless, the second-place finish is the Lemon Heads’ highest finish in a tournament this season and it moved them ahead of the Barrel Bruisers for the fourth spot in the Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament.

As for the Stompers, the 2017 Mid Atlantic champs came to Canonsburg with a somewhat surprising addition in the person of ERL’s Blake Hoffman. ERL pulled out of the tournament the week of, leaving the Ohio native without a team to play on. Hoffman hooked on with the rival Stompers, who forewent a chance at earning crucial playoff points by making the move. The addition allowed the Stompers to save Chris Sarno for the finals while Hoffman handled all the pool play pitching duties. Hoffman was on his game, allowing only a single run over 14 innings of work as he pitched his temporary team into the finals. For good measure, the 2018 MAW Rookie of the Year candidate hit a homerun versus the Revolution and appears to be peaking at the right time both at the plate and on the carpet.

Not to be outdone, however, was Hoffman’s teammate for the day, Chris Sarno. Chris was the star of the tournament thanks to two game winning home runs and an excellent nine inning title game pitching performance. In earning his second tournament MVP honor of the season, Sarno has placed himself near the top of the shortlist of season MVP candidates. Perhaps more importantly, after a slightly down – by his own lofty standards – pitching display in July and after sitting out the August 4th tournament, Sarno showed he is locked in and ready to go on in three weeks at the Championship Tournament.

Here and There

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When the Waves defeated the Revolution in their first game of the tournament, they joked about finally winning a pool play game this season. While the Waves did have a pool play win already – at MAW Wiffle Wars this June – they went 0-2-1 in pool play at the NWLA tournament before rattling off five straight to win the title . . . In that regard at least, the Lemon Heads are the polar opposite of the Waves. The Jersey quartet is now an unbelievable 16-1 in non-elimination games and 0-4 in elimination games on the year . . . Sarno’s MVP performance was extra special as it came in front of family members, including his new fiancé. Sarno – who is used to traveling upwards of five hours to play in tournaments – lives just miles away from the Canonsburg tourney site . . . MAW debuted new logo target strike zones at the tournament . . . When asked by a teammate if he was aware of the wild pitch rule that allowed two runs to score against the Lemon Heads, Berger said that he was but temporarily forgot. “If I remembered, I wouldn’t have thrown the riser,” Berger added . . . The 9-inning championship game between the Stompers and Lemon Heads marked the fourth time this season that a game has gone beyond six innings. At least one of the Stompers or ERL have competed in each of the four games . . . MAW tournaments have been blessed with great weather during the organization’s two-year existence. Rain was forecasted for Saturday, but the weather largely held up, save for a few sun showers during the 3rd place game and championship game . . . MAW officials would like to thank Jake Davey and WILL for their hospitality all weekend.

Championship Tournament Point Standing Update

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When it comes to post-season positioning, the Lemon Heads were the big winners in Canonsburg, leap frogging over the Barrel Bruisers into fourth place in the playoff point standings. While that outcome does not alter the first round Championship Tournament match ups, the Lemon Heads do pick up home field advantage in the opening round. With the Stompers ineligible to earn points in Canonsburg, the top two spots remained the same even though ERL was inactive. Although they were also inactive, the Longballs secured the sixth and final spot in the Championship Tournament as a result of neither the Waves nor Revolution winning the auto bid.

With that, we now know the identities of the six squads that earned their way to the no entry fee, invitation only Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament. Which one will emerge as the 2018 Mid Atlantic champions?

Up Next

Chris Sarno (Stompers) won his second tournament MVP award of the 2018 season by hitting two game winning home runs and shutting out the Lemon Heads in the championship game.

Chris Sarno (Stompers) won his second tournament MVP award of the 2018 season by hitting two game winning home runs and shutting out the Lemon Heads in the championship game.

To paraphrase the Stompers’ Jordan Robles, it’s championship season! We have reached the end of August, which means several major titles will be decided over the next six weeks.

Chief among those events is the second Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament, which emanates from Shi Wiffleball Park in York, PA on Saturday September 8th.  This unique six-team tournament – comprised of the top six team in the year-end playoff point standings – will kick off with a modified double elimination round with the 3rd – 6th seeds to decide which teams will join ERL and the Stompers in the semi-finals. The semi-finals and finals will both be Best of 3 series. The cash purse for this invitation only tournament is $2,500 and the final four teams will all finish in the money.

Stay tuned to midatlanticwiffle.com and the MAW social media accounts over the next two weeks for MUCH more on this major tournament!

Backyard Brawl (August 4, 2018) Tournament Recap

Joe Schlindwein (left) and Connor Young (right) celebrate their tournament win at  Backyard Brawl  seconds after the final out was recorded.

Joe Schlindwein (left) and Connor Young (right) celebrate their tournament win at Backyard Brawl seconds after the final out was recorded.

No more than sixty seconds after striking out the Longball’s Dylan Harshaw to win MAW’s Backyard Brawl tournament, Connor Young fell to the ground next to Sheff Field and lied there for a moment, exhausted.

The four-game pool play schedule and hot and humid conditions enervated almost every player, but it was an especially taxing day for ERL’s captain. Young threw all twenty-six innings for his two-man squad, came up with big hit after big hit, made several key defensive plays, and did not allow a single run along the way. On top of all of that, Connor had to twice navigate his way through a hungry and relentless Longballs lineup. That type of workload will sap the strength out of even the best conditioned athletes.

“That was certainly the most exhausted I’ve ever been after a tournament. I was drained,” Young told The Drop via text message. “I was honestly running on fumes those last three innings of the championship.”

The tournament had a throwback feel to it for ERL. Young took the ball from the first pitch to the last out with only Joe Schlindwein by his side, just as he did most of last summer. The Connor Young we saw on Saturday, however, was not the same player from 2017 who burned himself out by going a mile-a-minute each game of every tournament. This was not even the same player we saw earlier this season – a player who at times pressed too hard at the plate and who on several occasions allowed a single mistake pitch to turn into a hard luck loss.

At Backyard Brawl, Connor avoided the pitfalls that occasionally plagued him in the past. He judiciously navigated his way through opposing lineups. He added and subtracted as necessary to ensure that his arm would hold up through the long and humid day. Connor took care of business at the plate and saw to it that games would not be lost on one pitch. His pitch selection was – at times – impeccable. The result was arguably Young’s best all-around tournament in Mid Atlantic and ERL’s first MAW tournament title since the team’s MAW debut last June.

Connor Young ran away with tournament MVP honors, getting it done for ERL both on the carpet and at the dish.

Connor Young ran away with tournament MVP honors, getting it done for ERL both on the carpet and at the dish.

The path to ERL’s second MAW championship was a tough one, beginning with their first game of the day versus the Longballs from Ridley Park, PA. After competing in tournaments in May and June with suboptimal rosters, the Longballs arrived at Backyard Brawl with a foursome (Dylan Harshaw, Sean Bingnear, Tyler Nachbar, and Colin Pollag) that can match talent with any team in most any field. The Longballs’ roster on Saturday was at least three pitchers deep, which allowed them to throw their top starter – Bingnear – against ERL without having to worry about how that might impact their ability to compete later in the day.

As expected, a classic pitcher’s duel ensued between Young and Bingnear. The game breezed through the first three frames. Several half innings were over in a blink of an eye as the pitchers pounded the zone with strike after strike. Young did so with his full assortment of pitches while Bingnear relied mainly on a screwball-fastball-side arm drop combination. In the 4th, the Longball hitters got a read on Young and strung together some quality at bats that resulted in a pair of base runners. Armed with a 3-1 total base lead, the Longballs headed to the 5th inning with a chance to score a signature win.

For the second time in as many tournaments – the first coming in June against Cloud9 – Bingnear entered the 5th inning with a chance to pick up a major upset against a top team. Unfortunately for him and the Longballs, it was once again not meant to be. Joe led off the inning with a big walk. The base on balls allowed the ridiculously clutch Young an opportunity to deliver, which he did by smacking a double into the right field corner. The hit – which came with nobody out in the inning – gave ERL a one base lead and a big scoring opportunity. To Bingnear’s credit, he hit right back at ERL and set the next three batters down in order. The damage had been done, however, and in the bottom half of the inning Soup went into lockdown mode. He retired the Longballs in order to pick up the big early pool play win.

With one major challenge out of the way, Young settled into a groove for the rest of the round. He maneuvered his way through the offenses of the Barrel Bruisers and Revolution and used the extra at bats that come with playing as a two-man team to get into a routine at the plate. That routine, as usual, consisted of a lot of free swinging. Perhaps even more so than usual, Young was aggressive at the plate chasing – and often hitting – pitches six inches outside the zone. To round out pool play, ERL downed the Yaks to improve to a perfect 4-0.

Elsewhere, the Jersey Lemon Heads - led by another excellent pitching performance from ace Ray Lutick - also swept through pool play at a perfect 4-0 with victories over the Bruisers, Shortballs, Revolution, and Yaks. Both Jersey teams had one total base win to their names, so the top seed came down to run differential which ERL took by several runs. The 3-1 Longballs picked up the third seed while the 2-2 Yaks were given an immediate rematch against ERL.

A fresh – as fresh as one can be after playing six hours in the sticky late summer heat – Jarod Bull took the mound for the Yaks. The Yaks’ game plan of holding back Bull and sneaking into the elimination round anyway possible played out to near perfection. They entered the semi-finals with the no pitches thrown by their ace, something no other team in the field could boast.

The matchup between Bull and Young is one of the great pitcher-batter rivalries in MAW’s brief history. Bull and the Yaks got the better of it last August and September with wins over ERL in the finals and semi-finals, respectively. Connor got his payback in last October’s Championship Tournament and has carried that momentum into this season. Young continued to be a thorn in Bull’s side on Saturday, hitting two more home runs off him. It would have been three, if not for a sensational catch by the newest Yak, Jordan Reichard, who tumbled over the center field fence on Buffalo while holding onto the ball. The offensive explosion gave Connor some breathing room on the carpet and he made relatively easy work out of the Yaks to the reach the finals.

ERL’s win set up a re-match with the Longballs in the tournament championship and like the first encounter between these two teams, this one did not disappoint.

The Longballs' Colin Pollag, Dylan Harshaw, and Tyler Nachbar (left to right) discuss strategy during the tournament championship.

The Longballs' Colin Pollag, Dylan Harshaw, and Tyler Nachbar (left to right) discuss strategy during the tournament championship.

Armed with the valuable information on Young’s pitching style that they picked up six hours earlier, the Longballs launched a consistent, patient, and relentless offensive attack. When Young was over the plate, the Longball hitters were ready to pounce. They picked up five hits and only some quality defensive plays by ERL’s defense kept them from more. The Longballs loaded the bases in the fourth with only one out and had runners on in three out of five innings. Perhaps even more impressively, the Longball batters refused to offer at almost any pitcher’s pitches off the plate. All four members of the team had a tremendous read on Young and they forced him to beat them with strikes.

To Young’s credit, that is exactly what he did. Connor and Joe pounced on any balls put in play. As the Ridley Park batters fouled off pitch after pitch, Young continued to mix it up until he was able to sneak one by them. Due to the consistently tough at bats put together by the Longballs – even when the end result was not in their favor – this was the type of game that played out far more impressively in actuality than it does in the box score.

“The Ridley Park crew made me work harder than anyone all day, in both games. All of them are experienced Wiffle Ball hitters and were making adjustments throughout the game,” Young remarked about his title game opponents. “I tip my hat to those guys. They’re very, very good Wiffle Ball players and anyone who doesn’t know that is in for a rude awakening.”

Bingnear once again toed the rubber for the Longballs and – once again – was on the receiving end of a tough loss. ERL used the same combination they used in the first game – a walk from Joe and an extra base hit by Soup – to score the game’s only run. That combination of clutch-hitting and shutdown pitching gave ERL its first title in over a year.

“We were fully determined to win this tourney,” Young stated matter-of-factly the Monday after the tournament.

On an individual level, Connor’s single-day performance moved him ahead of the Stompers’ Chis Sarno in most Mid Atlantic pitching categories for the season, including innings pitched, strikeouts, and ERA (min. 20 innings pitched/avg. one game per tournament). He once again proved why he is among the very best players in the game right now. Perhaps more importantly, the tournament win moved ERL six points ahead of the Stompers in the season point standings. With only one tournament to go, ERL now has a tight grip on the top spot in September’s Championship Tournament.

Ridley Park Talent On Display

The Longballs and Shortballs - both out of the Ridley Park Wiffleball League - pose for a picture together after the tournament. Combined, the teams allowed just five runs in 46 innings on the day.

The Longballs and Shortballs - both out of the Ridley Park Wiffleball League - pose for a picture together after the tournament. Combined, the teams allowed just five runs in 46 innings on the day.

It took a couple of tournaments to get there, but the Ridley Park Longballs broke through at Backyard Brawl by not just advancing the semi-finals for the first time, but also by coming within one run of their first tournament title. The most impressive aspect of the Longballs tournament was their balance. The team got quality innings and two wins out of Pollag and Nachbar, while Bingnear did the heavy lifting against ERL.

Bingnear entered the tournament as the most ballyhooed of the current Longballs thanks to his strong starts against tough teams like Cloud9, In the Box, and New School Risers. His 1-5 record in MAW competition is very deceptive. A look below the surface reveals a pitcher on the verge of a major breakout. MAW Tournament Director Tim Cooke – drawing from his first-hand experience with Stomper lefty Dan Isenberg a decade and a half ago – is fond of pointing out how a string of one-run losses to quality teams by a young pitcher is often a sign that success is just around the corner. Bingnear’s five losses include a 1-0 extra inning loss to the reigning Fast Plastic champions Cloud9, a total base loss to ERL, an extra-inning walk off loss to Dave Capobianco and the New School Risers, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tom LoCascio of In the Box, and a 1-0 loss to ERL in Saturday’s championship game. If Tim’s theory is correct, Sean is in store for big things very soon.

At the plate, Dylan Harshaw picked up right where he left off at the NWLA Tournament with another above average offensive display. All four Longballs showed off average to above average patience and contact hitting, with flashes of power. That trifecta is rare in a single player, nonetheless on an entire team. The Longballs did not blow a routine play the entire tournament in easily a dozen chances. At Backyard Brawl, the Longballs proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can and will contend on a regular basis in MAW.

As impressive as the Longballs performance was, it was the play of Ridley Park Wiffleball League’s second team – the Shortballs – that hammered home just how talented of a league it is. This young team – all of their players are still in high school – went 1-3 but lost in six innings to the Yaks on total bases, came up just short against the Longballs, and hung in there against the Lemon Heads. Frankie Campanile, Ryan Drecher, and Nate Smith all impressed on the carpet, Vinny Albanese displayed plus power potential, and Joey Van Houten was a tough out the entire tournament. If we see more of the Shortballs next season, it stands to reason that they will follow a similar path to the Longballs and be contending by mid-year. The Shortballs have the pitching to compete now and their bats should only improve with additional reps.

Here and There

The Lemon Heads' Matt Cripse gets ready to deliver a pitch while teammate Tim Beck looks on.

The Lemon Heads' Matt Cripse gets ready to deliver a pitch while teammate Tim Beck looks on.

As is the case for many first-time tournament players, Gino Joseph’s control issues spoiled his debut but he has no intentions of letting that slow him down. Already ahead of the curve with a nice 3-pitch mix, Gino wrote Tuesday on Instagram: “First time ever . . . went 0-4 on the mound but it was one hell of an experience. Canonsburg in 12 days, then it takes off from there. Can’t wait to be one of the best” . . . The Jersey Lemon Heads are 7-1 in pool play in two MAW tournaments this year, but 0-2 in semi-final games. Including other organizations, they are 13-1 before the semi-finals this year and 0-3 with a chance at the championship game on the line. It is a question of when – not if – they will get over that hump . . . Consider this – just how scary might the Longballs be next year if they add a healthy Tommy Loftus to their lineup? . . . Last year, the Yaks’ Jarod Bull allowed one home run in 37 innings of work and that lone homer came in the Yaks’ last game of the year in the Championship Tournament. This year in 34 innings of work, the tall righty has already surrendered six home runs . . . Another Yak, Adam Milsted, flew under the radar on Saturday but was arguably the second most valuable player of the tournament. Milsted threw 15 innings for the Yaks, won two games, and lost a third on total bases to pitch his team into the playoffs . . . Best wishes to Milsted and Connor Young who celebrated birthdays this past week . . . How did Soup follow up his 26 innings of shutout ball on Saturday? By pitching 6 more against ERL teammate Dan Whitener in Palisades on Sunday . . .  The Barrel Bruisers' season long struggle to pick up victories continued on Saturday but there are some continuing positive signs. Chris Owen continued to be difficult to hit when he was over the plate, Jerry Hill looks better on the rubber every single tournament, and Tony Manelli continues to collect his hits no matter the pitcher . . .  The Lemon Heads used all four of their players on the flat hill this past weekend. If he can cut down the walks, Matt Cripse looks like a viable option for the Lemon Heads for pool play duty in a less competitive field. Also rumor has it that the team is already looking outside MAW to shore up their 2019 roster . . . It appears as if the Yaks will be without their captain, Nick Shirey, for the remainder of the season. Shirey is expected to undergo surgery later this month to repair a torn labrum he suffered at the Fast Plastic NCT nearly a decade and a half ago . . .Their two meetings on Saturday were not the first times members of the Longballs got an up close look at Soup's stuff. Young recently stopped by the Lot in Ridley Park to play a pick up game with some of the league's players.

Championship Tournament Update

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With one regular season tournament remaining, the Championship Tournament field is nearly in place. Three teams – ERL, Stompers, and Yaks – have clinched a spot with four other teams vying for the final three spots. That is without mentioning the potential shakeup that could occur should a team outside of that group win in Canonsburg. For a more thorough account of where things stand going into the last tournament of the season, click here.

Up Next

Members of the NWLA Tournament champion WILL Waves will compete in MAW's next tournament in Canonsburg, PA on the 18th. Pictured here are Waves players Jake Davey (foreground) and Mike Graziani.

Members of the NWLA Tournament champion WILL Waves will compete in MAW's next tournament in Canonsburg, PA on the 18th. Pictured here are Waves players Jake Davey (foreground) and Mike Graziani.

The season is down to its final tournament! MAW debuts in the Pittsburgh area next Saturday with the Canonsburg Classic. A competitive field is expected, including several teams hoping to improve or solidify a playoff spot. There are still slots available and registration will remain open to the end of the week. Don’t miss out on the last to compete in an open entry MAW tournament this summer!

After Canonsburg, all attention will turn towards the Championship Tournament on September 8th back in York. Not only will the second Mid Atlantic Champion being crowned on the day, the six teams involved will all vie for $2,500 in cash prizes! More information on this major tournament and how you can follow along from home in the coming weeks.

Quick Championship Tournament Update

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The final tournament of the season is just two weeks away and the Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament picture is coming in to focus. However, there are still plenty of moving pieces and potential spots up for grabs in Canonsburg, not to mention the Auto Bid that goes to the winning team of that tournament.

To recap, the top two teams in the point standings after the 18th will receive a bye to the semi-finals of the Championship Tournament. Seeds #3 through #6 will compete in a modified double elimination tournament (i.e. no final game between the winner’s bracket champion and the loser’s bracket champion) for the other two semi-final spots. The semi-finals and finals will then be best two-out-of-three series. Click here for an example of the Championship Tournament format.

After Backyard Brawl, there is a new name atop the leader board. For the first time this season, a team other than the Stompers occupies the top position. My Name is ERL made up a 10-point difference in one tournament by finishing first while the Stompers sat inactive. Both the Stompers and ERL have clinched a spot in the Championship tournament but both teams will be on action on August 18th. The Stompers have a lot of work to do – and will need some help – to regain the top position.

Mathematically, the Yaks could still overtake the Stompers for the coveted second spot but as of this date are not expected in Canonsburg. The Yaks have clinched the third seed in the Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament. None of the other teams currently in the top six – the Barrel Bruisers, Longballs, G€M or the Lemon Heads – have clinched a spot.

The biggest shake up to the Championship Tournament could occur if the winning team in Canonsburg is a team other than one of the seven listed above and that team accepts their auto bid. Under that scenario, the Lemon Heads and/or G€M would find themselves on the outside looking in if they are inactive on the 18th. Similarly, there could be some movement among the final four seeds depending on what happens on the 18th.

The season is going to go right down to the wire. Which teams will be tempt fate and which ones will try to take matters into their own hands in Canonsburg? We will find out in two weeks!

Backyard Brawl (August 4, 2018) Tournament Preview

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Backyard Brawl – the last 2018 regular season tournament at Shi Wiffleball Park – is this Saturday. This seven-team field is wide open and has been difficult to predict as any MAW tournament this year. What does each team look like? What are some keys to success for each squad? What’s at stake? We go team-by-team later in this preview to attempt to answer those questions and more.

If you are not in York on Saturday, make sure to follow along on our social media accounts. In addition, we will stream several games on Facebook Live during the tournament (the games will include commentary). As always, game times are subject to change.

10:45 AM ET - My Name is ERL vs. Longballs
1:45 PM ET - Jersey Lemon Heads vs. York Yaks
5:00 PM ET - Semi-Finals
6:00 PM ET - Championship Game

Like our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/midatlanticwiffle) to be alerted the moment we go live.


Barrel Bruisers

2018 MAW Record: 3-11 (1 TB loss)

Projected Roster: Jerry Hill (L), Chris Owen, Tony Manelli

Pitchers: (1) Chris Owen (R); (2) Jerry Hill (R)

2018 vs. Rest of the field: 0-1 vs. Lemon Heads; 0-1 vs. Longballs; 0-3 vs. My Name is ERL (1 TB loss); 1-1 vs. Yaks

Keys to Success:

* Bats Coming Alive? – The Bruisers’ bats have been on life support for most of the season – excluding games against the InHumans – but have shown signs of life recently. Hill has reached based in 11 of his last 30 non-InHumans plate appearances dating back to the June tournament. Manelli had one of the better days of any hitter against the Lemon Heads’ Ray Lutick at Wiffle Bash as he hit a solo home run and drew a pair of walks. Owen reached base in all four of his team’s games in July. It was a step in the right direction and one the Bruisers will need to build on this Saturday.

* A Big Day from Chris Owen – After an impressive two-game pitching performance in June, Owen seemingly took a step back in July. He struggled mightily against My Name is ERL and allowed twelve walks in just two innings of work. Owen rebounded somewhat against GCM. He couldn’t solve Ben Stant – although nobody could on that day – but he struck out seven over three innings while allowing four runs. Perhaps Owen was just shaking off some rust after missing the June tournament. Chris regaining his command of the strike zone would be huge for the Bruisers on the 4th. When he throws the ball over, he has been able to limit the damage and keep his team in games.

What’s at stake:

If the Championship Tournament were today the Barrel Bruisers would be in but they have yet to clinch. A top four finish at Backyard Brawl would all-but-ensure that they will still be playing come September.

Prediction:

Owen pitches the Bruisers to one win upset win but with easily the most difficult schedule in the field, the team fails to advance to the elimination round.

Jersey Lemon Heads

2018 MAW Record: 3-2 (1 TB loss)

Projected Roster: Matt Crispe, Ray Lutick, Tim Beck

Pitchers: (1) Ray Lutick (R); (2) Tim Beck (R)

2018 vs. Rest of the field: 1-0 vs. Barrel Bruisers

Keys to Success:

* Relief for Lutick – The Lemon Heads rode Lutick hard at Wiffle Bash and again a week later in Tennessee. The hard throwing righty pitched every game for his team at Wiffle Bash and six out of seven in Tennessee. Thus far, Ray’s arm has held up just fine, although he did understandably seem to tire late in last month’s tournament. Rumor has it that Beck will get the ball for at least a game in pool play this time around. The Lemon Heads seem confident that Tim can relieve some of the pressure from their ace. A fresh(er) Lutick late in the tournament could spell trouble for the opposition.

* Consistent Offense – It was an uneven day at the plate in July for this Jersey squad. The Lemon Heads offense handled the Barrel Bruisers and Wyld Stallyns with ease while struggling to push runs across against the Stompers and Giants. They hit well in Tennessee and will try to carry that over in the return to the Mid Atlantic. With a three-man squad this time around, each Lemon Head will have plenty of opportunities at the plate. We know Lutick can shut down opposing line ups so if the Lemon Heads can find a way to score runs off the Soups, Bulls, and Bingnears of the world, they will be in excellent shape.

What’s at stake:

Could the Lemon Heads make a late charge at the Championship Tournament? A fourth-place finish would place them on a bubble while a tournament title could have them sitting pretty heading into the final tournament of the regular season.

Prediction:

Beck gives the Lemon Heads one game, but otherwise they ride their ace hard yet again. Lutick is up to the task and the Lemon Heads make it to the final four and – perhaps – even farther than that.

Longballs

2018 MAW Record: 2-3 (1 extra inning, play-in game loss)

Projected Roster: Dylan Harshaw, Sean Bingnear, Colin Pollag, Tyler Nachbar

Pitchers: (1) Sean Bingnear (R); (2) Colin Pollag (R); (3) Dylan Harshaw (R); (4) Tyler Nachbar (L)

2018 vs. Rest of the field: 1-0 vs. Barrel Bruisers

Keys to Success:

* Getting the most from their pitching depth – The Longballs boast the most pitching depth of any team in the field. The key will be how they use it. Bingnear is their clear ace and in an ideal world, he would be kept relatively fresh for the elimination round. Of course, the Longballs need to get their first. For that to happen, they will need to get the most they can out of the other three arms. Pollag has the most MAW experience and has pitched moderately well against tough competition (two games versus the Stompers and one versus the Yaks). When he is over the plate enough to tempt hitters into swinging, his two different risers make him difficult to square up on. One would assume that the Longballs will try to get at least one start from Colin. Harshaw has pitched well in the RPWL this year, but only one has started a game once. Including that start – coming in his latest appearance - Dylan has not allowed a single run over his last 12 2/3 innings. In Harshaw, the Longballs may have something not often seen in tournament wiffleball – a late inning relief weapon. Both Pollag and Nachbar are prone to losing command for long stretches of time. The option of using Harshaw for an inning or two in those scenarios might be an appealing one for the guys from Ridley Park.

* Use the Long Ball – The Longballs – and their splinter teams – have struggled to consistently score in MAW competition. That has resulted in narrow 1-0 losses with their ace on the mound to teams like In the Box, Cloud9, and New School Risers. The members of this Longballs squad have done well reaching base but the big hit has been elusive when they have needed it the most. If they make a deep run on Saturday, a timely home run or two will help. They certainly have the players to make that happen. Nachbar has legitimate home run power from the left side of the plate with three home runs in MAW this season. Harshaw hit a couple out at the NWLA Tournament and Bingnear has arguably been the most consistent hitter for the Longballs in MAW competition. A timely long ball could turn one of those frustrating shutout losses into a big win.

What’s at stake:

The Longballs have had a disappointing season from a results standpoint and would love nothing more than to erase that with a tournament victory at Backyard Brawl. A strong tournament on Saturday would make a big statement about the future of this talented group and set them up for a spot in the MAW Championship Tournament.

Prediction:

The Longballs navigate their way through pool play in solid but not eyepopping fashion to reach the elimination round. Once there, they pick up their biggest MAW win to date and make it to their first tournament title game.

My Name is ERL

2018 MAW Record: 12-6 (1 TB win, 1 TB loss)

Projected Roster: Connor Young, Joe Schlindwein

Pitchers: (1) Connor Young (R); (2) Joe Schlindwein (L)

2018 vs. Rest of the field: 3-0 vs. Barrel Bruisers; 4-0 vs. Yaks

Keys to Success:

* Soup’s Rubber Arm – It has been a while – almost a year in fact – since we last saw Connor throw all day at a tournament. After essentially pitching every inning for ERL last year, Soup has gotten some much appreciated help from Blake Hoffman and Dan Whitener this summer. With those two unavailable on Saturday, word has it that Connor is planning to go take the ball all day at Backyard Brawl. Between his knowledge of the competition, pitching acumen, and rubber arm, Soup is well-suited to throw all day at this tournament.

* Joe’s Bat – Joe is having a solid season at the plate, reaching base 28 times in 64 attempts with a pair of home runs to go along with it. Playing as a two-man, he will have a lot of opportunities to add to those numbers. Connor has spoken at length that Joe could stand to be more aggressive in the box. This tournament – where he is sure to receive a lot of chances – might be the perfect place to let it fly a little more. If Joe and Connor have a couple of games where they are simultaneously in a groove at the plate, ERL has a chance to put up some crooked numbers and take some of the pressure off Soup’s right arm.

What’s at stake:

First place heading into the final tournament of the year is what’s at stake for ERL. With the Stompers inactive and only ten points separating the two teams in the standings, ERL can force a two-way tie with a fourth-place finish or take sole possession of first with a third place or higher finish.

Prediction:

ERL gets their final four finish to overtake the Stompers in the season standings. However, Soup’s arm tires late and ERL falls short of the tournament title.

The Revolution

2018 MAW Record: N/A

Projected Roster: Tony Joseph, Tony Joseph, Gino Joseph, Alan Andrews, Jim Miller, Tim Maine, BJ Patterson

Pitchers: Unknown

2018 vs. Rest of the field: N/A

Keys to Success:

* Understand the Competition Level – Nobody really knows what to expect at their first wiffs tournament – and what should be expected of course varies tournament to tournament – but it always helps to have a sense of the skills needed to compete going in. We saw earlier this year how a team new to the scene like The Naturals can make an immediate impact when the team has prepared themselves for the competition they are about to face. That includes – among other facets – coming prepared with tournament caliber pitching. I have been told The Revolution have done their research into the organization. Having an idea of what it takes to compete from before the first pitch is thrown is always a good first step for a new team.

* Use their opponent’s unfamiliarity to their advantage – While it behooves The Revolution to have a sense of how good their competitors might be, their opponents not knowing their strengths and weaknesses can also be a significant advantage. Nobody knows the makeup of this team which makes it difficult – if not impossible – to game plan for them. Even after the first game is played, its tough to get a read on a team that is still learning as they go. That mystery component will often yield better-than-anticipated results, assuming the team has the on-field skills necessary to take advantage of it.

What’s at stake:

The Revolution have signed up for the Canonsburg tournament later this month. They would like to get off to a good start in their tournament debut, follow it up with another strong tournament on the 18th, and perhaps position themselves for a run in 2019.

Prediction:

Your guess is as good as mine. Based on no actual information, The Revolution bats show potential, but their pitching lags a bit behind, causing them to finish outside the top four.

Shortballs

2018 MAW Record: N/A

Projected Roster: Joey Van Houten, Ryan Drecher, Frankie Campanile, Nate Smith, Vinny Albanese

Pitchers: (1) Ryan Dresher (R); (2) Nate Smith (R); (3) Frankie Campanile

2018 vs. Rest of the field: N/A

Keys to Success:

* Get off to a quick start – The Shortballs roster is – well – short on proven, veteran players. An early win would be a huge momentum booster for this young but talented squad. It won’t be easy – not with the Yaks and Longballs on their schedule to open the day. If the Shortballs can come away with a win in one of those two games, they have a shot at a 2-2 record and possibly advancing onto the final four.

* Win the winnable games – That sounds like common sense advice – and it is to an extent – but it is doubly important for a bubble team like the Shortballs. If or when the Shortballs find themselves with a competitive advantage on Saturday, it will be important for them to take advantage of it. For example, if they face a second or third pitcher on the opposing team, trying to go for the win with their best pitcher – Ryan Drecher – on the mound is a reasonable strategy. In a very even field, the Shortballs could be on the nice side of some pitching match ups and taking advantage of those opportunities is key for them.

What’s at stake:

The Ridley Park Wiffleball League is deep on talent. A good showing by their secondary squad at Backyard Brawl will further drive home that point.

Prediction:

The Shortballs play well, losing one close game and winning another, but falling short of the final four.

York Yaks

2018 MAW Record: 6-11 (1 TB loss)

Projected Roster: Dan Potter, Jarod Bull, Nick Shirey, Jordan Reichard

Pitchers: (1) Jarod Bull; (2) Dan Potter; (3) Nick Shirey

2018 vs. Rest of the field: 1-1 vs. Barrel Bruisers; 1-0 vs. Longballs; 0-4 vs. My Name is ERL

Keys to Success:

* No Mercy – Down a couple of arms, the Yaks could use a ten-run route – or two – during pool play. Bull has averaged a tick over two games per tournament this season and while he can handle more than that should the Yaks reach the elimination round, they would not doubt like to limit his innings early in the day. One way to do that is to end games early via the ten-run mercy rule. The Yaks’ lineup can put up some runs. Any line up that has Potter in it is a dangerous one. The Yaks don’t have any obvious mercy rule opponents on their pool play schedule – for that matter, there are not necessarily any of those teams in the field – but should the opportunity arise, they’d benefit greatly by winning a game or two after a couple of innings. The more bullets Bull has in his arm later in the day, the better off the Yaks will be.

* Can Potter Find the Zone? – Another way the Yaks can accomplish that same goal is to steal a win with someone other than Bull on the mound. With Shirey’s arm in even worse shape than usual, that onus will likely fall on Potter. The strike zone has been a mystery to the veteran this season. Almost 48% of the batters Potter faced this spring and summer have reached via walk. When he throws the ball over, he at least gives himself a chance to wiggle his way through a line up. If Potter – just for a game – can regain some semblance of control and maneuver his way through a lineup, that will give the Yaks a huge leg up.

What’s at stake:

Realistically, the Yaks are not going to be able to improve their Championship Tournament position no matter what they do here. The good news is they are also unlikely to drop a spot, barring the Lemon Heads, Longballs or GCM showing up in Canonsburg.

Prediction:

The strike zone continues to elude Potter, but he eats some innings and Bull picks up a pair of pool play wins to give the Yaks a play-in-game’s chance of reaching the elimination round.

Wiffle Bash (July 14, 2018) Tournament Recap

By: Paul Cooke

A Giant Statement

The Giants (Ryan & Tim McElrath) went a perfect 6-0 at  Wiffle Bash  to win the tournament title.

The Giants (Ryan & Tim McElrath) went a perfect 6-0 at Wiffle Bash to win the tournament title.

At 3:00 AM early Saturday morning – a time and day when most are either fast asleep or still going strong from the night before – Tim and Ryan McElrath woke up and hit the road on a 250-mile trek from their home in Kingston, New York to York, Pennsylvania. Their destination? Shi Wiffleball Park, the site of Mid Atlantic Wiffle’s Wiffle Bash tournament.

For the brothers, the cost of enduring a long car ride at such an ungodly hour was worth it for the opportunity that lay ahead. Competing almost exclusively in Palisades WBL for much of this decade, Tim and Ryan have established themselves as two of the premiere players in what is currently the country’s premiere league. Despite their significant accomplishments in Palisades, the McElraths have felt overlooked in discussions of the game’s best teams and players. Competing at Wiffle Bash provided an opportunity to prove themselves against high calibre competition in a tournament setting outside of their home base.

We kinda had to make a statement,” Tim wrote on Sunday, addressing his team’s motivation after the fact.

Statement made. Emphatically.

Saddled with one of the more difficult pool play schedules in the field, the Giants went a perfect 4-0 during that portion of the schedule. It was far from a cake walk, however. The Giants were tested early and often throughout pool play. In what is becoming somewhat of a trend in MAW tournaments, the first game of the day – when players on both sides are completely fresh – nearly became a trap game for one of the tournament favorites. In this situation it was the upstart Jersey Lemon Heads who threatened to throw a wrench into the Giants’ tournaments plans. The Lemon Heads picked up a couple of early opposite field hits against Tim McElrath while the Lemon Heads’ ace, Ray Lutick, kept the Giants’ bats in check. The game made it through five innings with no score and a total base deadlock. In the 6th, the Giants broke the total base stalemate to squeak by with a narrow but important early tournament win.

The Giants were still trying to find their groove – or perhaps were still feeling the effects of their early wake up call – when they met G€M on Buffalo field for their second game of the day. Ben Stant sawed through his former Palisades teammates in the early going, striking out nine of the first ten batters he faced with a one out walk to Tim in the third blemishing an otherwise perfect record. In the bottom half of the third Stant hit a solo home run off Tim, who was already on his ninth inning of work before 11:00 AM. Having failed to score a single run all morning and now with a one run deficit to make up, things looked grim for the McElrath brothers. Like many great teams, however, the Giants do some their best work with their backs against the wall. Ryan led off the top of the fourth inning with a single and Tim immediately cashed in with a two-run bomb to left field. Following back-to-back strikeouts that got Stant within one out of escaping with limited damage, the McElrath’s went on one of their patented hitting tears. The brothers used four straight singles and one walk to get across two huge insurance runs. In the bottom of the fourth, G€M threatened when John Magee and Stant reached to start the inning. This forced the Giants to summon Ryan into the game to close things out. The 2017 Palisades MVP and Cy Young award winner quickly shut the door to end the game and propel his team to a 2-0 start.

Tim McElrath GIANTS concept art hue.png

The fourth inning of the G€M game seemed to jumpstart the Giants for the remainder of pool play. They made quick work of Nick Shirey’s Wyld Stallyns team and then jumped over Jarod Bull early and often on their way to a 6-0 victory over the Yaks. The way the Giants made relatively easy work of the Yaks sent a clear message that they were going to be difficult to stop. As the Stompers’ Nick Schaefer mentioned on commentary for the Facebook Live stream of the game, Bull pitched a far better game then his lopsided line would indicate. The McElrath’s bats, however, were just too much to handle. It wouldn’t be the last time in the tournament that the brothers blindsided a top tier pitcher with their relentless offensive attack.

At 4-0, the Giants locked up the top seed in the four-team single elimination round. The Giants were joined by – in order – the Lemon Heads, Stompers, and My Name is ERL, making the fourth seeded ERL their first-round opponent.

In a stark contrast from what we are used to seeing from ERL, Connor Young made it through pool play with an [almost] fresh arm. ERL – one of the few regular teams out there that can boast having two left-handed pitchers – got two games apiece out of their southpaws on Saturday. Joe Schlindwein picked up his first MAW win while Blake Hoffman carried the heavier load against the Yaks and Stompers, winning one and taking a hard luck loss in the other. With his arm rested and ready to go for the semi’s, Young rolled the dice with a two-man, Giants-inspired lineup consisting of Joe and himself. The potential benefit to that configuration – which the McElraths enjoyed all tournament long – is getting to see the pitcher more often and quickly learn his tendencies. The downside was the loss of extra fielders on defense, but Soup felt confident that he could limit the number of balls the Giants put into play to mitigate the absence of a third defender.

For the first few innings, Young’s plan looked genius. Coming up to the plate for the third time in just 1 1/3 innings, Soup deposited a ball over the 105-foot mark in straight away center on Sheff. The solo shot gave ERL an early advantage that looked as if it was going to stand up. Young kept the first ten batters he faced off the bases while recording eight of his first ten outs on strikeouts. Of course, nothing is ever over with the Giants, who are always just one plate appearance away from flipping any game on its head. In the semi-finals that moment came with one out in the 4th inning. Ryan McElrath – seeing Connor for the sixth time in about twenty minutes – returned the favor from earlier with a solo shot of his own. To his credit, Soup did not allow the Giants to go on an immediate charge right after the big hit. Young escaped of the inning with two straight K’s to limit the damage.

Sitting in on commentary for the finals later in the day, Connor spoke to feeling that he  only delayed the inevitable by working out of the fourth inning. It was a feeling that only grew stronger when Joe booted a ground ball with one out in the 5th. Sure enough, that error opened the floodgates and the McElraths belted out four straight singles to end the game and ERL’s tournament.

Awaiting the Giants in the finals were the familiar faces of the Stompers. For the third time in four tournaments, the Stompers found themselves in the tournament title game. They handed the ball to Jordan Robles, who was coming off an all strike out perfect game against the Lemon Heads in the semi-finals. Robles entered the tournament with a rare several-week break from fast pitch competition and the benefit of his rested arm had been evident all tournament long. His stuff was sharp and he maintained his effectiveness late into the day despite being forced into action earlier in the tournament than anticipated. The on-field familiarity between Robles and the McElraths only added to the intrigue of the day’s final game.

The game was scoreless through the first 1 ½ innings, but it was evident that would not last long. The Stompers picked up one double in each of the first two frames courtesy of Sarno and Robles, respectively. For their part, the Giants took strong cuts against Jordan in the first. Based on the early quality at bats from players on both sides, it was only a matter of time before someone broke through. That breakthrough came in the second inning, in a major way.

Ryan McElrath GIANTS concept art hue sideways.png

All day long it seemed that once the Giants picked up one hit, a half dozen more followed. When Ryan opened the second inning with a single and Tim followed up with one of his own, you could already sense that Robles and the Stompers were in trouble. Like clockwork, Ryan homered in his next at bat – a prodigious shot that landed well into the trees overlooking Sheff field – putting the Giants ahead 3-0. The McElraths were not done yet – not by a long shot. Tim got his team started all over again with a single, Ryan added a double, and then Tim clobbered a pitch for the Giants’ second 3-run blast of the inning. In total, the Giants pounded out six straight hits – including a pair of home runs – before a single out was recorded in the second inning. The offensive fireworks seemed to stun all the players still in attendance, who are not used to seeing Robles hit around in such a manner.

Jordan – in a testament to his own abilities and makeup – found a way to keep the Giants off the scoreboard the rest of the tournament, largely by serving the McElraths a healthy dose of change ups. Unfortunately for the Stompers, the damage had already been done. Jordan – who had as much success as anyone against Ryan on the day (3 walks, triple, home run) – broke up the shutout with a one out home run in the fifth. The Stompers picked up another run later in the inning thanks to a Sarno double and a Nick Schaefer RBI single, but Ryan snuffed out the attempted comeback by striking out the next batter to end the game.

The Giants grew stronger and stronger as the day went on and finished with a perfect 6-0 record. For their efforts, they took home the $540 first place cash prize. Even more importantly, the brothers left York having made the statement they set out to make. There is no doubt – not as if there should have been before – that the McElraths are two of the best players in the entire game and a force to be reckon with whenever and wherever they step on the field.

No Shame About Ray

Ray Lutick (Lemon Heads) worked every inning for his and allowed just two runs at  Wiffle Bash .

Ray Lutick (Lemon Heads) worked every inning for his and allowed just two runs at Wiffle Bash.

It would have been nearly impossible for any player to outdo the individual performances of Ryan and Tim McElrath at Wiffle Bash, but the Jersey Lemon Heads’ Ray Lutick came awfully close. The power right-hander mowed down opposing hitters all-tournament long, starting with six scoreless innings against the Giants in his team’s first game. Lutick allowed just two runs the entire day – solo shots to the Stompers’ Sarno and the Barrel Bruisers’ Tony Manelli – while pitching every inning for this team.

Ray showed plus velocity and was able to maintain it throughout the tournament. His already strong velocity played up a little bit more thanks to a compact overhand delivery. He relied heavily on a hard overhand drop pitch that resembled a power baseball sinker more than a traditional Wiffle Ball dropper. Only occasionally did Lutick break out the side arm riser that he used liberally in his first MAW tournament last summer. If he can find a complimentary pitch and keep his arm in one piece, Lutick has the chance to be a special pitcher.

Behind Ray, the other Lemon Heads fielded well and had strong at bats throughout the tournament. The Lemon Heads’ offense should improve rapidly with additional tournament experience. On the carpet, they already have a bona fide ace in Lutick but the addition of another pitcher might become a necessity at some point. A 3-2 record against the calibre of competition the Lemon Heads faced at Wiffle Bash is incredibly impressive. Perhaps even more indicative of this team’s bright future is that they were in no way satisfied with their fourth-place finish. These guys are hungry for success and have the talent necessary to get where they ultimately want to be.

Pool Play Classic

Jordan Robles (Stompers) entered in relief against My Name is ERL in the 7th inning and finally closed out the marathon game in the 8th.

Jordan Robles (Stompers) entered in relief against My Name is ERL in the 7th inning and finally closed out the marathon game in the 8th.

Mid Atlantic has not lacked for memorable championship games during its limited existence. From Nick Schaefer outdueling Ryan Doeppel in the very first MAW tournament last April to the 10-inning classic between ERL and Cloud9 this June, the final game of the tournament is often also the best of the tournament. At Wiffle Bash, however, the tournament’s best game occurred much earlier in the day.

For the third time this season and the sixth time overall, the Stompers and My Name is ERL met in an MAW tournament. The Stompers entered the day leading the all time series 3-2, but both clubs have undergone drastic changes since their three 2017 meetings. A better gauge of the current rivalry would be the games ERL and the Stompers played in April and May of this year. The former saw the Stompers eek out a 1-0 victory behind their newest addition, Chris Sarno, while the latter game was taken 1-0 by ERL thanks to a dominant pitching effort from the debuting Dan Whitener. The talent gap between the teams is razor thin which almost guarantees a nail-bitter every time out.

The game – as expected – was a scoreless pitching duel through the first three frames. Blake Hoffman – facing the Stompers for the first time – pitched a perfect top half of the fourth while Sarno stumbled some in the bottom half for the Stompers. The Stompers’ hard throwing right-hander walked Young to open the inning and allowed an unlucky one out single on a playable groundball to Tim Cooke. Although Sarno got out of the inning without allowing either runner to score, the base runners were significant because they put ERL ahead on total bases by a count of four to three. The Stompers needed a base runner to stay alive, which they got right off the bat thanks to a Robles’ walk. Cooke then redeemed himself with a double off Jim Linhart’s hands to give his team a two base advantage.

Thus began a four inning stretch where the Stompers got at least one runner on base every single inning only for ERL to answer right back in innings five, six, and seven. After Paul Cooke walked in the 7th to put the Stompers up by one base, Jordan Robles asked for – or perhaps more accurately, took – the ball from Sarno to try to close out the game. He almost did just that, until Young – one of the more clutch hitters in all of Wiffle Ball – delivered with a two out single right back up the middle. In the 8th, Sarno delivered a double off of Hoffman to put the Stompers ahead by two bases. The second time was the charm for Robles, who worked around a two out walk in the bottom of the 8th inning to put the Stompers in the win column.

It is not often that a 0-0 game could be described as exciting or epic, but this one might just fit the bill. The total base lead changed hands six times and was tied four different times. There was no room for error on either side – which first became apparent in the third inning – and that lent even more importance to every hit, ground ball, and taken pitch. Look for a full, edited version of the game to hit the Video on Demand section of the MAW website in the near future.

Here and There

Bent Stant (G€M) delivers a pitch as teammate Marcus Lee looks on.

Bent Stant (G€M) delivers a pitch as teammate Marcus Lee looks on.

The Stompers championship game loss to the Giants was their first loss of the season on Sheff Field. The team’s prior three defeats this year all occurred on Buffalo . . . Where’s the run support? ERL’s Blake Hoffman threw 13 innings over two games, struck out 32 batters, allowed no runs, and served up just three hits but came away with only one total base win to go with one total base loss . . . Last summer, Connor Young became the first MAW pitcher to strikeout 200 batters in a season (including the Championship Tournament) when he set the single season record at 213. After Saturday, Chris Sarno is sitting on 142 strikeouts for the season. Red is not expected to be in action on August 4th, which may hurt his pursuit of both the 200 K mark and Soup’s record . . . The closer role has not taken hold in competitive Wiffle Ball the same way it has in baseball. At Wiffle Bash, however, there were two instances of teams turning to their ace to finish off games. Both the Stompers (Robles against ERL) and the Giants (Ryan McElrath against G€M) switched pitchers late in games to close the door on a victory . . . When asked if he ever remembers throwing that many change ups in a game as he did against the Giants, Robles shook his head 'no'. "I had to try something to get them out," the 2017 MAW post-season MVP conceded . . . Has a new player entered the Mid Atlantic MVP conversation? Bent Stant has played in just two of the four tournaments so far this season but is nonetheless among the leaders in most hitting and pitching categories. Will the voters overlook his relatively minimal playing time to reward him for what have been clear MVP-level performances when he's been on the field? . . . 500 miles away from Wiffle Bash, a pair of leagues with MAW ties fared well at the NWLA Tournament. Ridley Park stumbled going 0-2 in the elimination round but rebounded to win the weekend’s consolation tournament while also representing well in Friday night’s All-Star game and home run derby. Wiff is Life League started the weekend strong with Jordan Castelli winning All-Star game MVP honors and finished even stronger, outlasting the 16-team field on their way to capturing the tournament championship. Congratulations to both leagues on their achievements and we look forward to seeing both groups very soon . . . The Jersey Lemon Heads hope to continue the “trend” of MAW affiliated teams faring well in outside tournaments when they travel to Tennessee to play in an eight-team tournament this weekend. Based on what we saw at Wiffle Bash, it would not surprise anyone to see the Lemon Heads make a deep run . . . MAW officials continued the slow process of integrating an interview area and process into the York tournament experience. Look for some of the pre-tournament interviews recorded at Wiffle Bash on the website . . . Adding to the great tournament experience this past Saturday was the Barrel Bruisers kind generosity in supplying and grilling hot dogs and hamburgers for every player. Thanks Jerry, Chris and Tony!

Championship tournament Update

The York Yaks - currently third in the standings -  have a spot in the Championship Tournament all but locked down (L:R Jared Laird, Adam Milsted).

The York Yaks - currently third in the standings -  have a spot in the Championship Tournament all but locked down (L:R Jared Laird, Adam Milsted).

With just two tournaments left to be played, the Championship Tournament race is heating up. The top three spots are set in stone, although ERL is well within striking distance of the Stompers for the top seed. G€M and the Barrel Bruisers have a strong grip on two of the final three sports, although there are several teams that could still overtake them. The auto qualifier spot for the Canonsburg Classic looms as a complete wild card at this point. There is no guarantee that a team outside the top six will win the tournament - or that the winners will be able to accept the bid - which means that six spots based on total points could still potentialy be up for grabs. For teams like the Lemon Heads or Longballs Red, a Championship Tournament spot could very well be in their sights with one more strong finish, regardless of the outcome in Canonsburg.

MAW officials have passed along the latest payout projections for the Championship Tournament. Based on current projections, the first place grand prize is estimated to be $2,000 with an anticipated purse of $500 to be split among the top three runners up.* If your team is on the bubble, now is the chance to make a move and ensure your chance to play for big money on September 8th!

  1. Stompers (MD)                   56 pts.
  2. My Name is ERL (NJ)        46 pts.
  3. York Yaks (PA)                    32 pts.
  4. G€M (DE)                             20 pts.
  5. Barrel Bruisers (VA)           18 pts.
  6. Giants (NY)                          16 pts.

Teams in Contention: Naturals (14), New School Risers (14), Jersey Lemon Heads (10), Cuban Raft Riders (10), Longballs Red (7), In the Box (7) **

* Assuming a six team Championship Tournament field.

** Cloud9 (16) and Ridley Park Longballs (8) are currently ineligible for the Championship Tournament as members of these played for points on different teams in subsequent tournaments (Giants and Longballs Red, respectively).

Up Next

It is hard to believe, but we are already on the home stretch of the 2018 summer season!

There are just TWO open entry tournaments left to go, beginning with Backyard Brawl on August 4th at Shi Wiffleball Park in York. This tournament is shaping up to be wide open with some MAW regulars either not expected to compete or expected to compete with short-handed rosters. There are a couple of spots still open and with Championship Tournament slots still up for grabs, this is an excellent opportunity for several teams to make a late run at the post-season.

Two weeks later, MAW rolls into Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, home of the NWLA Tournament champions Wiff is Life League! In partnership with WILL, the Canonsburg Classic will be an MAW style tournament complete with a first place cash prize. In addition, participating teams will receive points towards the Championship Tournament and the winning team will receive an automatic bid to the MAW Championship Tournament on September 8th. The Canonsburg Classic is expected to include a mix of MAW regulars, WILL regulars, newcomers, and more! Register today to take advantage of what promises to be a unique and exciting tournament.

Wiffle Bash (July 14, 2018) Tournament Preview

The Yaks' Adam Milsted (left) and Jarod Bull (right) will be on the field together for the first time this season at   Wiffle Bash  .

The Yaks' Adam Milsted (left) and Jarod Bull (right) will be on the field together for the first time this season at Wiffle Bash.

When the York Yaks added veteran Adam Milsted to their roster over the winter, they envisioned a one-two punch of Milsted and Jarod Bull pitching them deep into the day tournament after tournament. And perhaps that is exactly what would have happened, if only the Yaks could get their top two starters out on the field at the same time. In April at Opening Day, Milsted played with his non-MAW team – Way Too Beautiful – while Bull was available to the Yaks for only 1 ½ games due to prior commitments. In May, Milsted made his long awaited Yaks’ debut while Bull sat out to nurse a sore shoulder. Bull was back on the mound for the June tournament but this time it was Milsted who was absent thanks to an outside commitment. Now at long last, both Milsted and Bull are expected to toe the rubber for the Yaks in the same tournament at MAW Wiffle Bash.

Just how significant is it for the Yaks to have their top two pitchers available in the same tournament? MIlsted and Bull have combined for a 1.66 ERA in 29 innings pitched for the Yaks this year while all other Yaks pitchers have pitched to a 9.77 ERA in 17 2/3 IP. If that duo puts up similar numbers on the 14th, the Yaks have an inside track to the final four.

Another team thrilled to be back at (near) full strength is the Barrel Bruisers. Jerry Hill was left to go at it (almost) alone back in June and performed admirably, winning one game and dropping a close one to the WILL Waves by a score of 2-1. Jerry won’t have to shoulder nearly as much of the workload this Saturday as the Bruisers will have team ace Chris Owen back in the fold. Last time we saw Chris, he turned in his best single tournament in Mid Atlantic by holding the Yaks and My Name is ERL to two runs over eight innings at Torneo de Wiffs in May. The Bruisers are on a mission for playoff points as they look to solidify a spot in September’s Championship Tournament.  A .500 pool play record will be a big step in the right direction. To get there, the Bruisers must find a way to pick up a one win in one of their three non-InHumans games.

Like Owen, ERL’s Blake Hoffman is making his return to action after missing Wiffle Wars in June. Blake is itching to get back on the carpet and continue his rookie campaign after taking a month off. The question is, how much will we see of him on the rubber this weekend? For a variety of reasons, the left-hander has been used sparingly thus far. In April, Blake worked one round robin game after ERL had already been eliminated from contention and in May his only start was a loss in the semi-finals. For those two tournaments, ERL captain Connor Young chose to hold his rookie pitcher back for the games later in the day. Soup might not have the same luxury this time around, not with Dan Whitener reportedly done for the rest of the summer due to collegiate baseball commitments. Is this the tournament where we finally see what one of the game’s most promising young hurlers can do over multiple appearances? After using a stripped down three-man lineup in June, ERL will be carrying five on Saturday. Young and Gerard Fitzgerald form a potent combination in the middle of ERL’s lineup.

While Owen and Hoffman are making their returns after a one-tournament layoff, it has been even longer since we last saw Ben Stant and the boys from G€M. On Opening Day back in April, Stant guided his inexperienced but talented squad to a final four appearance. G€M ended their impressive debut tournament with a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to The Naturals in the semi’s. The team was led by their talented captain – Stant - who picked up wins against the Yaks and Cuban Raft Riders in pool play while also hitting three home runs. G€M has drawn arguably the toughest pool play schedule in the field with games versus the Giants, Yaks, Stompers, and Barrel Bruisers. To compound matters, Ben is scheduled to pitch in GSWL Yard League the very next day and may want to control his innings on Saturday. Look for G€M to try and steal a win early in the day against the Giants or Yaks, turn to another pitcher to try to get past the Bruisers (as they did with John Magee back in April) and see if they can’t work themselves into the elimination round without overtaxing their captain’s talented right arm.

G€M’s early day meeting with The Giants promises to be one of the highlights of the morning from a pure competition standpoint. The matchup also comes with a little bit of history. Stant was briefly part of the 2017 Giants squad that won the Palisades WBL championship. In one weekend worth of action for the Giants, Stant fared well. He reached base in 4 out of 11 plate appearances and struck out 14 batters during a 5-inning 1-0 loss. Stant suited up for the Giants again, but did not see any additional game time for the eventual Palisades champs. This winter, the Giants unloaded him in a trade with the Expos. While there are not necessarily any hard feelings, Ben will nonetheless have an opportunity this Saturday to show the Giants what they missed out on.

For their part, Tim and Ryan McElrath are coming to York to further prove what many already know to be true – that the Giants are one of the best teams in the sport and that Ryan is among the best players in the game. Ryan had arguably one of the top regular and post-seasons in Palisades league history last year, the Giants won the MAW Winter Classic back in February (albeit, with Jordan Robles as their third) and we all saw first hand how good of a hitter Tim can be last month when he played with Cloud9 at MAW Wiffle Wars. Despite all of that, the McElraths feel they don’t always garner the level of respect that they certainly deserve. With that ever-present chip on their shoulder, the brothers are looking to make a statement this Saturday at Wiffle Bash. It won’t be easy, as rumor as it they might have to go at it without a third player. The key will be how many innings they can squeeze out of Tim’s banged up right arm in pool play. If the answer is “eight” – and at least four of those come in a win – the Giants are almost certain to be factor late into the day

Left to Right: Ryan and Tim McElrath after winning the 2018 MAW Winter Classic in February.

Left to Right: Ryan and Tim McElrath after winning the 2018 MAW Winter Classic in February.

Among teams looking to play spoiler are a pair of local squads– the Wyld Stallyns and those loveable underdogs, the InHumans. The InHumans are still in search of that allusive first win. Their best chance to do so on Saturday would appear to be against the Stallyns in a late pool play meeting, although even that won’t be easy. The Stallyns are captained by Nick Shirey who – as he is want to do – will temporarily split from the Yaks for a chance to pitch. Shirey will be joined by J.R. from Bacchus and a third player making his MAW debut.

While the realistic best-case scenario for the InHumans and Stallyns is to play the role of spoiler on Saturday, this next team is staring at a higher ceiling. Last August, an unknown team from the Jackson Wiffleball League arrived in York for the fourth tournament of the season. In their first game the newcomers upset an undermanned Stompers squad and then dropped a pair of close games to My Name is ERL on the way to a top four finish. Sporting a new team name – Jersey Lemon Heads – the guys are back and looking to build off of their sold debut of a year ago. These Jersey boys have a manageable schedule and a real chance to be alive late in the day. If you want a player from Lemon Heads to watch, keep an eye on Ray Lutick. The pitcher impressed fellow players last August with a side arm riser that – when he keeps it out of the middle of the plate – rates as an above average offering.

Finally, there's the Stompers. The team’s impressive streak of tournament titles – four straight – came to an end in June at Wiffle Wars. While a semi-final loss to one of the game’s best pitchers hardly qualifies as disappointing, there is a sense that the club is eager to “bounce back” after missing out on the finals in June. The Stompers will have all three of their pitchers – Jordan Robles, Chris Sarno, and Nick Schaefer – available once again, although it will likely be the last time that happens this (regular) season. As usual, that wealth of pitching depth gives team captain Tim Cooke much to ponder. The Stompers’ pool play matchup with My Name is ERL will be another chapter in a classic MAW on-field rivalry. The Stompers lead the all-time series three games to two.

The Mid Atlantic Wiffle Facebook page (www.facebook.com/midatlanticwiffle) will once again stream several games throughout the tournament. All game times are subject to change, so we suggest checking in twenty minutes or so early to make sure you don’t miss any of the action. Live commentary from a rotating cast of players will be provided when possible.

  • 10:00 AM – Giants vs. G€M
  • 2:00 PM – Giants vs. York Yaks
  • 4:00 PM – My Name is ERL vs. York Yaks OR Barrel Bruisers vs. Lemon Heads
  • 5:30 PM – Finals (TBD)

As always, follow MAW on Twitter (@midatlanticwiff) and on Instagram (midatlanticwiffle) for updates throughout the tournament. Check back next week after the tournament for full coverage including the tournament recap, video highlights, and much more.