…and we’re back-YBLCS Game 3 Preview

AT v SA

Last night the Yawkey League took the night off to participate in YBL HOFer Steve Buckley’s Old Time Baseball Game.  Filling up the coaching staffs were Brian Carey, Mike Powers, Carl Rodriguez, James Greeley, Alex Lee and there was a good amount of Yawkey League talent filling both rosters as well.  All funds raised went toward Boston vs. Bullies.

Tonight we stay at the same venue, St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge (if the game is rained out, it will be moved to the turf at Maplewood), but we are back to working hard to crown a 2016 Yawkey League Champion.  This is Game 3 with #2 seed Somerville Alibrandis holding a 2-0 lead over the #1 seeded Al Thomas Athletics.  We know there will be offensive heroes tonight as these two potent line-ups have no fear of a field with 320′ dimensions all the way around, we just don’t know who they will be.  That said, let’s get to the wings.

Both teams have depth on the mound, so there are plenty of fresh arms available, especially with the two built-in off days this week.  ATBC will start Bobby Freeman who may be their hottest hand.  Freeman is already 2-0 this postseason after a fantastic 6-1 record during the regular season.  A true “ball-in-play” guy, he will rely on the very capable ATBC defense.

Alibrandis will counter with Chris Costa who had a breakout year for the Red Army this year leaving the bullpen behind for a spot in the starting rotation.  After starting the year 4-0, he has lost his last 2 decisions overall.  Is that the jump start that ATBC needs to get themselves going in this series?

The alumni for both teams are excited, the venue is perfect and this is the match-up that we have been waiting for all season.  Pack a cooler, call Armando’s Pizza 617-354-8275 and get down to St. Peters Field at 7:30pm to catch the best amateur baseball action you’ll find anywhere.  For those of you watching remotely, Matt Grimes and I will be playing the part of Kenny Blankenship and Vic Romano via the Yawkey League Facebook page.  Buckle up, this is the YBL Championship Series, Game 3!!!

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YBLCS Game 2 Recap

Billy Karalis Pic  Will Brennan Pic

The debate has gone on for decades…some players treat a playoff game like it’s just a regular season game (see Tom Brady’s nap before SuperBowl XXXVI), other folks say the playoffs are a different animal altogether (see Michael Phelps’ Face in Rio).  Somerville Alibrandis seems to have hit that extra playoff gear that they have been known to show in August almost every year.  On the strength of 8 extra base hits, including 6 doubles and homers by 2015 YBL Playoff MVP Billy Karalis and Will Brennan (both pictured above), the Red Army took a 2-0 series lead.  Every Alibrandi starter recorded a hit including multi-hit games from Mike Maguire, Ted Dziuba, Bobby Barrett, Karalis, Brennan, Jimmy Ricoy and Mark Addesa.

The aging Alibrandis pitching staff can’t completely shut down an Al Thomas offense that scored the most regular season runs of any team in YBL History, but the Red offense is certainly taking the pressure off so far this series.  ATBC had multi-hit games from Freddi Carrera, Tom Trull and Mike Hicks as their offense is never out of any game.

Alibrandis takes its 2-0 series lead to St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge for Game 3 on Friday night at 7:30pm.  The bandbox of a field should allow these offenses to trade punches once again as no lead is safe.  Each pitching staff will be challenged to hit every spot all night long to stay away from big innings.

If there is one team that can swing big and get back in the series, the 2016 Athletics is that team.  Can they get swinging while cooling down the Somerville bats?  Can Bernie put together a solid line-up without Littman and Ricoy in Cambridge?  Will Chris Costa, Jon Morse and Lamarre Rey ever see the mound?    Stay tuned tomorrow…

Tonight we pause Yawkey action to honor our commitment to YBL HOFer Steve Buckley in support of his Old Time Baseball Game.  This year’s game will feature several Yawkey baseballers and will raise funds for Boston vs Bullies (http://www.bostonvsbullies.org/) to help keep bullying out of our schools.  I hope to see as many YBL guys there as is possible.  St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge, 7pm start.

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…and we’re back-YBLCS Game 2 Preview

James Katsy Pic Will Brennan Pic Freddi Carrera Pic Ted Dziuba Pic

After a one night hiatus the YBL returns to Adams Field in Quincy at 7:30 tonight for Game 2 of the YBL Championship Series.  Somerville Alibrandis is off to a 1-0 series lead as the Al Thomas Club looks to even things up.  We won’t go into too much detail about two of the deepest and most powerful offenses that this League has ever seen, so let’s go right to the guys getting the ball.

The visitors will go with YBL Veteran Chris Foundas in this one.  Foundy went 4-1 with a sub-3.00 ERA this regular season and is coming off a CG win in his only 2016 postseason start.  His strikeouts are down and his base runners allowed are up, but he has been in big games before.

The home team will counter with Pat Bresnehan after a 6-0 regular season in the YBL, while already 1-0 in the playoffs.  2016 marked Bresnehan’s return to the YBL after a stellar college career at Arizona State University and a professional career that spanned 2006-2012 with both Independent ball and Pittsburgh Pirates organization.  Expect ATBC to have a fully rested arsenal in the bullpen after a night off as well.

Best of luck to both teams!!!  O/U 11.0.

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YBL Championship Series-Game 1 Recap

Bobby Barrett Pic Sean Sullivan Pic

*Photos courtesy of Craig Henry (craighenry@mac.com).  For more from Game 1…

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hq2xgo7qd4ol0sj/AAD-xF0QcmznbLTzavAtXisxa?dl=0

As has been very common this post-season, home field advantage has been quickly stripped from the higher seed.  I’m sure this doesn’t matter to teams like ATBC and Alibrandis as they are equipped to pitch, hit and play defense anywhere, anytime.  Game 1 saw the #1 Al Thomas Athletics get out to a 1-0 lead in the 3rd which only started a night of two heavyweights standing in the middle of the ring going toe to toe trading punches.  Alibrandis tied it in the 4th and ATBC would quickly take the lead once again.

Alibrandis would score late runs in bunches which has been the rule lately, putting up 5 in the 5th.  RBI doubles by Teddy Dziuba and Will Brennan would be the key run scoring hits while Bobby Barrett would continue his torrid pace chipping in with 3 more hits.  The story on the mound for the Red Army was the Red Ace, Sean Sullivan.  He limited the vaunted ATBC offense to 4 hits and 2 runs, one earned.  He kept his defense busy all night and they made the plays.  He moves his career post-season record to 13-0.

ATBC played a nice mix and match game with their multi-faceted bullpen, including the return of playoff stud Willie Archibald, who threw a scoreless inning with one strikeout.  Their RBI were knocked in by 2016 YBL MVP favorite Freddi Carrera and Mike Hicks.

Alibrandis takes Game 1 by a final of 7-2.  Game 2 is at Adams Field in Quincy at 7:30pm on Wednesday 8/24.

 

 

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

AT v SA

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

SA v RR

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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