Masquerading as a different team than the buzzsaw that won 40 games over the course of 2013 (regular season plus playoffs), this year’s Alibrandis took longer than usual to get in sync. Two-thirds of the way through the season, Somerville had posted a respectable 14-7-1 record yet found themselves amongst a group of teams vying to break away from the pack. In early July, Manager Bernie Driscoll must have administered a healthy dosage of wedgies and purple nerples, because the Red Army has gotten back to business by winning their last 10 games to lock up the top seed in the YBL.
On the other side of the chalk, and clinching the 8th playoff spot with only a couple games left in the season, Manager John Griffith’s Black Sox fought through a grindstone year by doing what a playoff team is supposed to do…..beat the teams they should beat. Griff kept his squad in the mix all the way despite a constantly changing lineup, and was rewarded in the form of a series with the most dominating franchise in recent YBL history.
Somerville took all 3 matchups between the teams in 2014. But if the Black Sox can build off the most recent 2-1 tilt, this series will be more interesting than most may anticipate.
Players to Watch
The Black Sox offense boasts some quality bats in Adam Sudbeck (.311avg and 15rbi) and Bill ‘throwing it back to ’09’ Reichmann (.351avg with 34hits). But it can be argued that the Black Sox’ offensive tempo rises and falls with Kurt Beulke. In his rookie campaign, Beulke has handled YBL pitching to the tune of a .363avg, terrorized defenses with swift base running (14sb), and turned center field into a place where hits go to suffer a supple, leathery death. On the bump, the Sox will trot out a pair of veteran YBL workhorses in Ross and Nicholson, who have compiled 8 wins and 106 strikeouts between them. Rounding out the playoff rotation is rookie Joe “Raspberry” Shebertes, who has sliced his way through hitters while amassing 58 strikeouts in 31 innings to go along with a sparkling 1.13era.
As for the Alibrandis, they always come at you with a lineup that never really gives you a chance to chew some seeds. Typically at the top of the lineup, Mike “Mags” Maguire and Thaddeus “don’t call me Thaddeus” Dziuba are both having MVP-caliber seasons. The freshly assimilated Kevin Salines shares the YBL lead in runs scored (31, tied w/Dziuba), and there is no shortage of production throughout the line with Logan Gillis, Stan DeMartinis, and the never-aging Doc DesRoches. On the mound, count on an heaping helping of Morse, Foundas and McKenzie who will gladly hand the pill to The Tanguy for an inning every night.
Sean Sullivan – if the series goes to a game 4, the Alibrandis will likely turn to Ol’ Yukon Cornelius who has seen limited work due to injuries in 2014. He’s been a studly ginger for Somerville since 2009, does he still have the playoff goods?
Will Cousins – the Black Sox will need contributions up and down their lineup, and this rookie infielder can be the guy who keeps the lineup moving. Can regular season success turn into playoff success?
X-Factor – The Somerville Basketball twins always lead the Red Army fan base and can get into the heads of anyone that dare step onto the sacred Trum battlefield.
While it may be easy to predict a blowout, you can’t go to sleep on these Black Sox. Smart money is on the Red Army, but don’t be surprised if the Sox paint it Black and make a series out of it. Quality pitching and solid defense is the recipe for taking down the consensus YBL Championship favorites. If they can play clean baseball and refrain from giving Somerville too many free passes, they have the pitching to make this a good series.
Somerville in 4