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.
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.
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.
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.