Mid Atlantic Offseason News & Notes #4

Not short on Pitching

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.

By virtue of forming after the Longballs, the Shortballs are technically the Ridley Park Wiffleball League’s second tournament team. The group also skews younger relative to their Longball counterparts by at least a couple of years which gives them a little brother feel. And yes, the odds are strong that the Shortballs will finish behind the Longballs in Mid Atlantic this upcoming season. What the Shortballs certainly are not, however, is a “B-team”. With several high upside pitching prospects and a 6-man roster that has been game-tested for several years, this is a team that should cause trouble for opposing offenses.

On many young teams, there is one flashy prospect or potential breakout player that stands out above the rest. That’s the not the case for the Shortballs where opinions on who their best pitching prospect is varies depending on who you ask. One veteran wiffler and MAW mainstay has been overheard fawning over the future prospects of Ryan “Teddy” Drecher, who allowed just two runs over 16 innings while facing the likes of the Jersey Lemon Heads, WILL Waves, and York Yaks in 2018. Another longtime wiffler with a keen scouting eye sees dollar signs in southpaw Nate Smith. With a deceptive delivery and a quality riser, Smith could be a bad match up for some of Mid Atlantic’s more talented left-handed hitters like Connor Young or Ben Stant. In RPWL last year, Smith thrived in a reliever role which may make piggybacking the righty Drecher with the lefty Smith a tantalizing option for captain Joey VanHouten late in tournaments. Complementing Drecher and Smith on the mound will be right-hander Frankie Campanile. While currently viewed as the team’s third starter, it would not be a shock if Campanile joins his two pitching teammates as a buzz worthy pitching prospect by mid-summer. 

The Shortballs’ weakness is on offense. This past August, the team was shutout in three of their four games and struggled to consistently put runners on base. To address that apparent deficiency, the team added Jack Libero from the Ridley Park Wiffleball League. Libero was among the league leaders in walks in RPWL (42% walk rate between the regular season and playoffs) and showed some power potential with three home runs in 33 at bats. The Shortballs will also look for returning player “Big Sexy” Vinnie Alabanese to carry over his power output from the RPWL playoffs (3 homeruns in 23 at bats) to 2019 MAW competition as they try to find ways to put more runs on the board.

strategies: Bunting

Imagine this.

You are standing in the batter’s box on Sheff and unfortunately for you, Dan Whitener is staring back at you from 45 feet away. You have struck out twice this game already and have little reason to believe this at bat will end any differently. The batter before you managed a walk with no outs and your team’s two best hitters are coming up after you. You would love to get the runner over to second knowing that if you do, this might be your team’s best chance at scoring in this game. You just have to figure out a plan to make that happen.

Your first thought is to hope that the bout of wildness that befell Dan the previous batter will carry over to this at bat. No such luck. You take a first pitch riser that buzzes right by you and clanks off the zone. Now with just one strike to work with, you decide to choke up as much as you can with the hope of ambushing a pitch. You begin your swing before the ball has even left the pitcher’s hand and end your swing while the pitched ball – a changeup – is still spinning through the air. After picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, you return your bench – head down – wondering what if anything you could have done differently. 

If taking a pitch doesn’t work and swinging out of your shoes doesn’t work, why not try laying down a bunt?

In two years, not a single player has attempted to bunt in Mid Atlantic. There is no rule against it in the MAW rulebook and runs are often at a premium, so why has this particular hitting approach remained on the shelf?

The notion that bunting in wiffleball is a cheap play only holds up if one believes that executing a bunt hit is easy. It isn’t. Laying down a successful bunt hit in Mid Atlantic requires eye-hand coordination (to even square up on a ball darting every which way), bat control (to keep the ball fair), and delicate precision (to get the ball past the 12-foot play line but not so far past that it can be easily fielded before coming to a stop). It is a skill and should be viewed as such. 

Despite the inherit challenge in executing a bunt base hit, for some it might be a higher percentage play than swinging away against certain pitchers. For a player who is experienced with the art of bunting and continually sharpens the skill, the occasional bunt against a Whitener, Red, Soup, Lutick, Bingnear, Bush, or Robles might be a higher percentage play than swinging away or attempting to work a walk. It is all about scoring runs by any means necessary within the rules and the confines of good sportsmanship. If you can gain advantage by bunting, why wouldn’t you?

The trickledown impact of more bunt singles would be fascinating.

In the scenario described above, if the batter successfully laid down a bunt during that at bat, the infield – or at least one infielder – would likely draw in the next time he is up. The hitter has given no indication he can get a swinging hit against Whitener but has proven he can lay down a bunt, so the defense would be wise to adhere to the odds. Eventually this batter would have to prove that he can at least put the ball in play against Whitener while swinging away to get the defense to play him at normal depth. If not, the strategy will have a limited lifespan. 

But what if a mediocre or even great hitter started to bunt on occasion? How would the defense react to that? A batter that hits a line drive single in his first plate appearance and follows up with a bunt single in his second would leave the defense with a decision to make. If it’s a three-fielder defense and the batter hasn’t shown to be much more than a singles hitter, perhaps the defense pulls one player in to take away the bunt and places the other two fielders on the infield line on both sides of the rubber. Imagine the chaos that would be caused by a hitter like Jordan Robles if he demonstrated both the ability and willingness to bunt for a single. How does the defense react to that – one player in, one traditional infielder, and one outfielder? Do they play straight away daring Robles to bunt since at least that would limit the potential damage?

The strategic possibilities and challenges that would come from players bunting for singles with some regularity are plentiful and could potentially add a lot of excitement – and maybe a few runs – over the course of the season.

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


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.

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

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.