Category Archives: Playoff Previews

2016 YBL Championship Round Preview – (1) Al Thomas vs. (2) Somerville


Playoff Review

The big boppers are set to do battle in a final best-of-7 series to crown the 2016 YBL Champions.

In one corner, wearing green, grey and yellow, are this year’s number one seed and owner of the YBL record setting offense Al Thomas Baseball Club Athletics. In the first round they took care of the Black Sox in 3 straight, while the Braves slogged their way through a grueling set with the Sabers. Having a few extra days to rest up, it was assumed that AT would be ready to take it to the Braves who wouldn’t even get a single day off before stepping in the cage with the green machine. But it was the Braves who came out swinging, and jumped out to a 2-0 series lead powered by Alex Joyce and his 6-for-8, 6 run / 6 rbi performance. The Athletics pitching settled down and held Los Bravos in check enough to allow the offense to do what it does best, which is score runs. The A’s outscored the Braves 20-8 over the last 3 games, led by James Katsiroubas (7-for-10 with 5 runs) and 2016 YBL rbi king Matt Rodriguez (7 rbi).

In the other corner, wearing the traditional red and white (with camo), the Somerville Alibrandis are the 6-time defending league champions, and winners of 15 of the last 17 YBL titles. The Red Army took a shot on the chin in game 1 of the first round from East Boston, but 3 games and 35 runs later they had their feet up and were patiently waiting for Revere to outlast the Saints in 5 games. Somerville would go on to sweep the Rockies in 3 straight, but not without any theatrics as they had to come from behind in each win after facing deficits of 1-0, 8-3 and 5-1. In game 1, it was Juan Parra’s 6th inning “inside-the-fenceless-park” grand slam that helped the rejuvenated Chris Foundas get his 16th career postseason win. In game 2, Jimmy Ricoy and Bobby Barrett provided the offense as each went yard with 3 rbi. And game 3 was a team effort with Anthony Del Prete getting the win, and 6 different players scoring runs in the 7-5 clincher.

Projected Matchups

Game 1 – Sean Sullivan (1-0, 5 IP, 2.80 ERA, 2 K’s) vs. Kasey Kirby (0-1, 4 IP, 10.50 ERA, 4 K’s)

Game 2 – Chris Costa (0-1, 6.1 IP, 8.84 ERA, 9 K’s) vs. Dan Gaughan (1-0, 10 IP, 0.70 ERA, 10 K’s)

Game 3 – Chris Foundas (1-0, 8 IP, 0.88 ERA, 5 K’s) vs. Pat Bresnehan (1-0, 0 IP, 1.08 ERA, 13 K’s)

Game 4 – Jon Morse (2-0, 13 IP, 3.23 ERA, 15 K’s) vs. Bobby Freeman (2-0, 0 IP, 4.90 ERA, 2 K’s)

** matchups subject to change

Players to Watch

Both squads are filthy with power up and down the lineups.

With all due respect to Lambert, Trull, Kostas and Rodriguez, the juggernaut that is the Athletics offense is led by 2015 league MVP James Katsiroubas and potential 2016 league MVP Freddi Carrera. A 1-2 punch at the top of the order, the “Ambiguously Grey Duo” sets the tone by looking to rattle opposing pitchers straight out of the gates.

In the Red dugout, look for Barrett, Parra, Lightbody, Littman, Ricoy and Brennan to fill the stat sheets. But Somerville has their own tag-team at the top of the lineup in Mike Maguire and Teddy Dziuba. Sure they share Lunchables, but they know how to win, and frankly have grown quite accustomed to it over the past 6 years.

Keys to the Series

These teams met 3 times in the regular season, with the top-seeded Athletics taking 2 out of the 3 games. This series will be decided by Alibrandi pitching vs. Alhletics hitting. With tenured vets Morse, Foundas, Sullivan, Del Prete and Brian Tanguy, plus young bucks Costa and Lamarre Rey, Somerville has the decided edge on the pitching front. They will have their work cut out for them as the Athletics have averaged over 8.5 runs per game in the regular season, and over 7 per in the playoffs. Carrera, Katsiroubas, Lambert, Trull, Rodriguez, DeGiacomo, Kostas…..a lineup that has no quit and gives the A’s the edge on offense.

Will the ATBC bullpen keep Somerville from scoring late runs in bunches? Will the Somerville rotation turn back the clock and become shutdown pitchers again? Will Coach Kostas’ wife give birth before, during or after the series? Will you dare take the under in any individual game? Will there be any walk-offs? The next week and a half promises to be the most exciting that the Yawkey League has seen in a long time. Everybody has a game plan until he gets hit in the mouth, so put your mouth guard in and enjoy the ride.  See you at the field!!!

Series Prediction

…this series goes 7.

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2016 Playoff Preview – Semifinals – (2) Somerville vs. (5) Revere


First Round Review

While Somerville wrapped up their 3-1 series win over Eastie on Friday, they had to wait for the Braves’ Mike Smith to complete the second leg of his 11 inning complete game win over the Sabers to determine the semifinal matchups. That win sends the Braves at the Athletics, and sets up the Red Army to face off against against the Purple People Eaters. The last time these teams met in the playoffs was the 2013 Championship, a 4-1 series win for Somerville.

Back to 2016……in Round 1, Somerville allowed the Knights to take the first game and raise some eyebrows, but the Alibrandi bats took over the rest of the way, outscoring EB 35-11 over the last 3 games, a shellacking reminiscent of last year’s championship round aside from that EPIC 3rd game. Keeping the mojo flowing after a proficient regular season and a recent injury to one of his tootsies, 2016 YBL batting champ Bobby Barrett showed no signs of weakness as he went 6-for-10 with 5 rbi in 3 games (wins) against the Knights. Normally paced by vets Mike Maguire, Teddy Dziuba and playoff juggernaut Billy Karalis, the Alibrandis have some young bucks on the scene this postseason. Rookie 2b Zach Littman, rookie rf/3b Jimmy Ricoy and 2nd-year 3b Will Brennan provided some giggity as they combined to go 18-for-35 with 7 extra base hits and 16 rbi.

The Rockies had a bigger fight on their hands with the always resilient Saints pushing Revere to 5 games. The teams traded wins all the way through, and after a stellar outing from Stravoravdis (I can actually type that without looking it up now) and his 1-hit shutout in Game 2, Southie was in position to take control in a tight Game 3. But the Rockies received a vintage outing from Chris Sandini who tossed a complete game win allowing only 1 unearned run. That gave the Rockies 2 chances to close the door, where Adam Del Rio did the honors with a complete game of his own in game 5. Aside from Del Rio and his bookend wins in the series, the Purple got some resurgence from Chris Hartery who was 4-for-7 with 3 rbi in 3 games. With a late-season croquet injury to perennial slugger Bobby Foote, manager Nate Laliberte was forced to call his own number as he saw 16 ABs in 5 games after getting 36 all season. And Birdy didn’t disappoint, batting .438 with 5 rbi.

Probable Matchups

Game 1 – Chris Foundas (0-0, 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 K’s) vs. Chris Sandini (1-0, 7 IP, 0.00 ERA, 6 K’s)

Game 2 – Chris Costa (0-1, 6.1 IP, 8.84 ERA, 9 K’s) vs. John Young (0-1, 5 IP, 4.20 ERA, 3 K’s)

Game 3 – Jon Morse (1-0, 7 IP, 3.00 ERA, 10 K’s) vs. *Chris Santosuosso (0-0, 0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0 K’s)

* just a guess

Players to Watch

Game 2 (probable) starter Chris Costa and his breakout 1.46 regular season era will try to rebound from a tough outing in the first round. Speedy Juan Parra was kept in check in the first set, if he’s getting on base with any regularity out of the 9-hole its sure to be trouble. And the Rockies can’t afford to groove a fastball to David Lightbody, owner of the most violent swing in the league. One mistake can open the floodgates.

Andrew Billig has been the caterpillar drive for Revere all season, stealthily reaching base with a .464 obp. A pure contact lefty a la Ichiro, Drew has proven crucial as Revere needed him to fill the chasm left in the outfield with the injury to Alex Wong. Whether he’s setting the table near the top of the order or keeping innings alive towards the bottom, Billig will have to get on base and give the big bats of Hartery, Santosuosso and Tony Iafolla (and Iafolla’s 2 hr in the first round) some extra licks. Also keep an eye on Del Rio at the plate, a career .316 hitter in the YBL who struggled in Round 1. You don’t want to be on the receiving end when the Donkey starts kicking.

Wild Cards

Somerville got through the first set essentially without stud wing Chris Foundas. After all, its common baseball knowledge that getting married will add .50 – 1.00 onto your era and suck the life out of your fastball. But Foundy will be strapping on the feed bag in Game 1, where a dominant performance will go a long way towards setting the tone of the series and another finals berth for the Red.

For the Rockies, their wild card will be their pitching staff. Already down Wong and rookie sensation Pat Shore, barring a week-long monsoon they won’t get more than 1 game out of Del Rio this round which will put the brunt of the workload on Sandini, John Young and Alex Torres. Ian Titcomb and Morgan Gardner should get most of the bullpen work, so short outings from the starters could be very problematic.

Series Prediction

These teams met twice in the regular season, with Somerville winning both games. Both teams have had at least a couple days off to rest and get oh so kinda fresh. If Revere can get to Foundas early in Game 1, they can put a strain on the Alibrandi bullpen which has little depth aside from Anthony Del Prete and All Star closer Brian Tanguy. On the flip side, the Rockies will have to limit big innings from the Red Army, because no team rides the momentum like they do.

Somerville rolls into yet another Championship Series, defeating Revere  3-1 in the second round.

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2016 Playoff Preview – Semifinals – (1) Al Thomas vs. (6) Brighton Braves


First Round Summary

11 innings pitched.  10 strikeouts.  ZERO earned runs.


While the top-seeded A’s were resting up for round two following a 3 games to none sweep of the Brighton Black Sox, the Braves were fighting for their playoff lives in a do-or-die Game 5 matchup that took over 24 hours to complete.  Handing the ball off to the reigning YBL Pitcher of the Year Mike Smith, already on short rest following his Game 1 complete game shutout of the Stoneham Sabres, Smitty turned in an effort for the ages.  Tossing 9 brilliant innings at Rec Park on Sunday night, Smith wouldn’t turn over the ball a day later when play resumed after being halted due to darkness, and tossed 2 more shutout innings to tally his second playoff win of the series, propelling the Braves to the Yawkey League Semi-Finals.

The Braves received some clutch hitting from slugging first basemen Billy Uberti, who swatted a team-high 5 RBI’s in the opening round. Alex Lee notched a team-best 6 hits and continued his torrid pace on the base paths. After leading the league with 22 stolen bases in the regular season, Alex swiped 5 more against the Stals in Round 1.

Waiting for the Cinderella squad is the league’s top franchise in 2016, the Al Thomas Athletics. Up 5-0 in the bottom of the 6th inning in game 1 of the series, the upstart Brighton Black Sox looked to shock the 28-4 Athletics and take the early series lead, but the ATBC bats battled back for a 6-5 walkoff win, and never looked back from there.  Bill Clang turned in the pitching performance of the series in Game 2, scattering 4 hits in 6 shutout innings to help his A’s take down Brighton.  Timely hits from James Katsiroubas and John Kostas gave Al Thomas a leg up before emptying the tank in an 18-6 series clinching drubbing on Thursday night (Freddi Carrera had 3 hits and 4 RBI’s).

Al Thomas swept the regular season series against the Braves 3-0, outscoring the boys from Brighton by a combined score of 32-5.

Probable Matchups

Game 1: Pat Bresnehan (3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 0 ER, 4 K’s) vs. James Greeley (4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 3 ER, 1 K)

Game 2: Bill Clang (6 IP, 4 H,1 BB, 0 ER, 6 K’s) vs. Sam K. Smith (4.1 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 3 ER, 4 K’s)

Game 3: Bobby Freeman (5 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 3 ER, 1 K) vs. Mike Smith (18 IP, 10 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 22 K’s)

Players to Watch

While Freddi, Katsy and Lambert have been the heart of the Al Thomas order for the last few years, it was the contributions of Trull, Rodriguez and Kostas that rounded out an already stout lineup, making the 2016 A’s a force to be reckoned with.  Those three went 16 for 30 with 8 runs scored and 8 RBI in the first round, proving that you can’t catch a breather once you get passed “Murderer’s Row” this year.

The Braves have a core of their own, anchored by Billy Uberti’s career 1.089 OPS in the postseason.  Cambridge’s own Ari Glantz shook off an unlikely down year to crank a team-high 3 extra-base hits and 5 runs scored last series.  Expect Ari to continue pounding out hits in a series that will likely have plenty of them.

Series Prediction

Al Thomas’ arms are rested and fresh.  Their hitters didn’t skip a beat entering the playoffs coming off of their record-setting regular season campaign. We all know what Smitty is capable of, but can the other Braves arms keep the series close before his name gets called once again? The ability of Greels, Lanky, Arms and K-Smith to silence ATBC’s bats and steal a few wins from Al Thomas will be the deciding factor in this series.

If Brighton can keep the train rolling in Game 1 tonight, they just might be able to pull off the upset.  If they can’t keep the ATBC bats at bay, expect a quick series with Al Thomas punching their ticket to their second YBL final in 3 years.

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2016 Playoff Preview – First Round – (2) Somerville Alibrandis vs. (7) East Boston Knights


Season Review

In 2015 they were the top 2 seeds in the YBL tourney and battled in the Championship Round. This year they will meet again, but this rematch takes place in the first round. Once again the #2 seed, Somerville has not been quite the dominant force as we’ve seen over the past decade-plus. But they once again led the league in team pitching with a 2.14 ERA and 242 strikeouts. Offensively, Bernie Driscoll and Cam Lynch’s Alibrandis were second only to the record-setting efforts of the Athletics, scoring 226 runs with a .334 avg and leading the YBL with 88 stolen bases.

After a league-best 25-5 record in 2015, the East Boston Knights stormed into the Finals with high expectations but were swept by Somerville. And while the Alibrandis were able to improve upon their record, 2016 has been a much different year for the Knights. After starting the season 4-1, Eastie lost their next 4 and never again got themselves on the fun side of .500. But Coach Bellavia’s team fought their way through the season and made the playoffs knowing that once you get there, the regular season record doesn’t matter anymore. Everyone around the league knows that you can’t sleep on this team with their offense that can light up the scoreboard at any time. Despite their record, EB still finished the year in the top-5 in both batting and pitching, and they have the talent on the roster to beat anyone in the league.

Probable Matchups

Game 1 –Chris Costa (4-1, 33.2 IP, 1.46 ERA, 43 K’s) vs.  Sam Bennett (1-3, 37.1 IP, 2.25 ERA, 47 K’s)

Game 2 – Jon Morse (7-2, 43 IP, 1.79 ERA, 48 K’s) vs.  Evan Vallera (5-3, 42 IP, 3.33 ERA, 24 K’s)

Game 3 – Sean Sullivan (8-1, 43.2 IP, 3.21 ERA, 45 K’s) vs. Max Ockner (2-3, 32 IP, 3.50 ERA, 30 K’s)

Players to Watch

Somerville has the offense, but they are “Pitching Wins Championships” in real life. A breakout year from Chris Costa (1.46 era / 43 strikeouts in 33 innings) has taken a lot of the strain off of the rotation and the bullpen. Look for YBL stud Chris Foundas to make a difference in relief early, or if the series goes to 4 games. But most important for the Alibrandis will be when the starters turn the ball over to Lamarre Rey and Brian Tanguy late in games. No other team in the league has the late innings covered like the Red Army.

For Eastie, as mentioned above they have the talent. But to get past the defending champs they will need to have all of their big players contributing. Both Marty Dunlap and Mike Oliveira had career years in 2015, but struggled at times this season. Perhaps the biggest boost for the Knights will come in the form of rookie pitcher Adam Somers, who just barely eked out playoff eligibility at the end of the season. Somers has been “effectively wild” in 2016 with a 22:17 k:bb ratio in 14 innings. If he can keep the walks down, he is a strikeout machine who can decide a game or two.

Wild Cards

Gordie Gronkowski can very well be the piece to push Somerville over the top this postseason. Aformer Angels farmhand (a .298 hitter over his professional career), the Alibrandis rookie posted a .351 avg over 18 games with a .942 ops. But many people are waiting to hear on the status of 2016 YBL batting champ Bobby Barrett. Bobbo suffered a foot injury late in the season, and the biggest decision Coach Bernie may make all postseason could be determining when the appropriate time is to reactivate #7.

After only appearing in 5 games last year, Victor LeBron returned in 2016 and had a good, albeit somewhat streaky year (.316 avg with 18 steals). Coach Bellavia will need some LeBron circa 2014 (.450 avg with 47 steals) where he terrorized the league every time he stepped to the plate in order to have a chance to take down the champs.

Series Prediction

While Eastie will likely have all hands on deck for the postseason, the Red Army just has too much offense and pitching. Alibrandis in 4.

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2016 Playoff Preview – First Round – (1) Al Thomas Athletics vs. (8) Brighton Black Sox


Season Review

Sporting the YBL’s most potent and formidable offense, the Al Thomas Athletics enter the 2016 postseason as the league’s top seed on the heels of a franchise record 28-win season. The A’s look to avenge last year’s heartbreaking first round loss to their rival Revere Rockies – a series which had them leading 2-0 at one point in the best of 5 series.   A perennial powerhouse, Al Thomas has no shortage of talent with playoff experience, and many have ATBC pegged as the squad who will hoist this year’s championship plaque.

Sporting their deepest lineup in recent memory, the Sluggers from the South Shore can flat-out hit. Coach McDougall’s veteran squad has terrorized opposing pitching staffs all year long, averaging nearly 9 runs per game, while drawing an unheard of 173 bases on balls – the highest walks total by any franchise since .400Hitter began tracking statistics.  With 7 Al Thomas hitters ranking in the top 13 in the league in runs scored, there is simply no room for error when facing their lineup.

Their bats are buoyed by a solid pitching rotation and deep bullpen. Bolstered by the return of former Pittsburgh Pirates 5th round selection Pat Bresnehan (6-0, 4.46 ERA, 34 K’s), Al Thomas is primed for a deep playoff run in 2016.

Looking to play the role of “spoiler” in round 1 are the #8-seed Brighton Black Sox, who enter postseason play with a 14-18 record. Piping hot out of the gate, the Black Sox rifled off big wins against defending champion Somerville and semi-finalist Stoneham en route to a 10-5 start. Relying on his bevy of veteran arms and a talented, fast, young corps of bats, Coach John Griffith created a winning atmosphere at his team’s new home at Brandeis University.

Then July hit…

First, the Sox lost promising young shortstop Jake McGuiggan to a pro contract with the New Britain Bee’s of the Atlantic Professional Baseball league. Then, the injury bug got hold of the usually sturdy Black Sox staff, with staff ace J.T. Ross tallying less than 40 innings pitched for the first time since 2009.  With a 2016 regular season that was back-loaded with an inordinate amount of July games, the Black Sox did what they could to find pitching wherever they could, with catchers, first basemen and coaches shouldering the load on several occasions. They limp into August on a 4-13 skid, hoping for some postseason magic to aid them in their efforts to unseat the league’s top team.

Probable Matchups

Game 1 –Pat Bresnehan (6-0, 67 IP, 1.78 ERA, 48 K’s) vs.  Matt Nicholson (1-3, 41 IP, 2.39 ERA, 14 K’s)

Game 2 – Willie Archibald (3-0, 36 IP, 1.94 ERA, 39 K’s) vs.  Jared Rooney (4-5, 51 IP, 3.43 ERA, 33 K’s)

Game 3 – Bobby Freeman (6-1, 34.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 28 K’s) vs.  JT Ross (3-3, 39.2 IP, 3.00 ERA, 36 K’s)

Players to Watch

Since the franchise-ruining free agent pickup of Freddi Carrera in 2013, the Athletics have deployed a 3-headed monster of Freddi/Katsy/Lambo to score runs in bunches on a nightly basis. Carrera turned in another MVP-worthy campaign in 2016, leading A’s hitters in batting average (.423) and hits (41).  James Katsiroubas lead the league in runs scored (36) and extra-base hits (16) while Steve Lambert pitched in with 31 runs and 30 RBI’s of his own.  The all-star trio was joined by MVP-hopeful Matt Rodriguez, who paced the A’s with a league-best 40 RBI’s. The speedy Tom Trull turned in a career year, leading the circuit with 22 stolen bases, and a resurgent Jon Kostas finished up 2016 hitting at a .400 clip.  Assuming the bats will remain true to form, the Al Thomas postseason might hinge entirely on which Willie Archibald shows up in August – the record-setting 2014 version who rattled off 5 playoff wins? Or the 2015 version whom surrendered 6 ER in 3.2 IP in a do-or-die game 5 against the Rockies.

Wheaton College standout Apolinar De La Cruz packs a whallop in the middle of the Black Sox order, leading his team in runs scored (20) and extra base hits (9). New addition, Spencer Tonies, turned in a fine rookie campaign with 30 hits and a .390 average. Former Washington Nationals 33rd Round pick Billy Cather has arguably the sweetest left-handed swing in the league and could create some matchup issues for the Al Thomas right-handed starters, along with Apo, Spencer, Rob O’Neil and the other Black Sox lefties.

Wild Cards

Mike Hicks reached base at a .438 clip in 2016 thanks in large part to his league-leading 14 HBP’s. Establishing the inner half on Hicks and teammate James Katsiroubas could be a difference maker for opposing pitchers.

Black Sox catcher Cam Owens answered the call when his team needed an emergency start and he held the defending league champs to 1 run, scattering 5 hits over 6.2 gutsy innings. Griff may hand him the ball to see if lightning strikes twice.

Series Prediction

The fact that the Al Thomas Athletics do not have their name etched on the YBL championship plaque this decade is criminal. They have been too good for too long to go home empty-handed once again.  Griff’s Black Sox have plenty of talent, and have proven time and again that they can not only compete with, but BEAT the best teams this league has to offer…but ATBC lineup is just too deep and they’ll punch an early ticket to Round 2.

Al Thomas sweeps Brighton 3-0 in the first round.


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Playoff Preview: (4) East Boston Knights vs. (5) Stoneham Sabers

Season Review

The East Boston Knights snatched the 4-seed with a second-place finish in the Yastrzemski Division.  Eric Bellavia has led them through a bit of roller-coaster season that saw the Knights (21-10-1) vacillate between the top and middle of the Yaz division.  With a similar style of play as their round 1 opponents, the Knights have no glaring weaknesses.  They have really put up some highly impressive, almost unrealistic statistics with a .426 OBP to go along with 122 steals, a new YBL record (since the inception of 400hitter, only two other clubs have amassed three-digits in steals).  And they back it up with a grocery list of pitchers who could each contribute significantly in the series.

On the flip side, the Stoneham Sabers (22-10) quickly established themselves as the team to beat in the YBL with a big win over Revere and then 2 more over Somerville in the first month+ of the season. There is never an ‘easy’ inning against the Sabers with their solid pitching, tough bats all the way through the lineup and speed all over the place. Player/Manager Angelo Colucci has kept the kids focused and has the comfort in knowing there will be superior defense at the 3 key positions on the field.

Stoneham may have taken the season series 2-0, but they have yet to play EB on one of their many turf fields.

Potential Matchups

Game 1 – Jeff Allison (2-0-1, 18.0 IP, 1.94 ERA, 20 Ks) vs. Chris Dion (4-1, 45.2 IP, 1.99 ERA, 36 Ks)

Game 2 – Jon Shepard (3-1-3, 26.1 IP, 0.53 ERA, 42 Ks) vs. Corey McNamara (6-1, 37.0 IP, 1.51 ERA, 20 Ks)

Game 3 – Branden Eaton (4-1, 31.0 IP, 4.06 ERA, 27 Ks) vs. Sam Cummings (5-3, 48.1 IP, 1.16 ERA, 45 Ks)

Players to Watch

The Knights can march 7 hitters to the plate who hit over .340 (with at least 35 ABs) in 2014, including Marty Dunlap (.375) and Josh Valerio (.352) who both had solid years. Wilson Mercado (.364, 24 RBI) was one of the scarier hitters in the YBL as usual, and Brad Tardugno (.343, 17 RBI) always seems to be lurking on deck when guys get on base.  Shepard and Allison will anchor the starting rotation, and Billy Riggieri (5-2, 31 IP, 2.09 ERA, 39 K) will likely start game 4 (if needed).  Max Ockner (1-2, 1.31 ERA) should get plenty of innings in relief.  But Eastie also has THE guy to watch in the postseason.  Victor ‘the better’ LeBron was lauded with “dude is the real deal” merely a couple weeks into his rookie YBL season.  Since then, his legit-ness has only escalated with a .459 avg, 3 HR and a ridiculous, YBL record 45 SB (surpassing Drew Tambling’s old mark of 37).  If this guy is getting on base with any regularity, stopping Eastie will be like trying to get a bad pie at Santarpio’s.

Stoneham may not have a LeBron of their own, but there is no debating that they are one of the more complete teams top-to-bottom in the league.  Now in his 4th YBL campaign, Mike Robinson (.268 avg, 15 SB) has been a pitcher’s nightmare who brings power and speed in addition to being a top-tier YBL center fielder. And while 2014 has seen a slight regression from mmmRob at the dish, this 3-hitter can break out at any time.  Jake Zelnick (.408 avg, 4 triples) leads the team in hitting, and Travis Adams (.358 avg, 11 doubles) has been among the top 2-way catchers in the YBL. The Sabers also have their own arsenal of wings, to the point where they can play matchups.  Greg Dubela (4-2, 1.78 ERA) and his rubber arm could easily see a start in the first few games, or even be the primary reliever leading up to a potential start in game 4.  One thing is for sure, these guys can play on any of the 11 different surfaces the schedule throws at them.


The Eastie bullpen.  If the starters are able to get through 5 innings with minimal damage, they will hand the ball to either John Tangherlini (2-1, 2.28era) or Max Ockner (1-2, 1.31 ERA) to close the door for Bellavia.  If those 2 are on point, the Sabers could be working uphill.

Colucci – A career .324 hitter, Ang has had a tough 2014 despite logging his 4th consecutive 90+ AB season.  History has shown that he has a certain flair for the dramatic, so 1 big hit can easily wake this hairy, hardball-hammering beast and cause big problems for Knights pitching.

X-Factor – Is there any question?  THE BEACH.  If the weather holds off, Stoneham will get to host the Knights at the most ligament-terrifying field on the eastern seaboard for at least 1 if not 2 games this upcoming weekend.  Are there any 2 fields more vastly different than Rec Park and Maplewood?

Series Prediction

While Eastie was up and down all year and Stoneham hit a bit of a rough patch over the last couple weeks of 2014, both teams have shown that they are perennially among the league’s best.  This series is going to be all about taking it one pitch at a time.  Hits will become outs, and mistakes can quickly turn into chaos.  The combination of pitching and hitting from both squads could lead to a bunch of 2-1 games, 15-14 games, or anything in between.

Stoneham moves on in 5

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