Around the Horn

BABL playoffs began on Friday night and ran all day Saturday until we crowned three new championship teams. Along the way we had pitchers duels, walkoff homers, and plenty of drama across all three divisions. Emotions were high, and players gave their all throughout all our games, but in the end we could only crown one team per division. And these teams earned it! Congrats to our BABL champions:

 

A – Mashers (coach Josh Kidwell)

AA – Splitters (coach John Paseur)

AAA – Launchers (coaches Noah Sherman & Donato Bucci)

 

Congrats again to our champions, and thank you to all our teams for a great season. This was one of the best fall seasons we’ve ever had here at Koa, and that doesn’t happen without parents and coaches who care, and players who give it their all every week. We hope you enjoy the ensuing time off, and are looking forward to seeing you back for the winter and spring!

 

Two of our travel teams also had end of season tournament pool play games this weekend too, but most were rained out. The travel season will continue next weekend with more NVTBL End of Season Tournament games, while the 13U team playing in the Ripken Experience Walk-Off Tournament up in Aberdeen, MD – an event I’ll be traveling up to cover in person. Good luck, fellas!

 

Here are the highlights from BABL playoff weekend:

 

BABL A

 

Sluggers @ Bombers

Sluggers 6

Bombers 7

Let’s jump right into the good stuff! This will go down as perhaps the greatest game in BABL history, given the playoff setting and the manner in which this one ended. The Sluggers came into this game looking to pull off the shocking upset, while the Bombers came in looking to take care of business and move on to the championship game. The Sluggers got the early jump on the Bombers taking a 3-1 lead by the third inning, on the heels of solid games from Teddy B. and Luke L., but the Bombers came back and tied it in the bottom half of the inning. With no runs scored in the fourth inning, the game went into extra innings. The Sluggers again took the lead, 6-3, and looked ready to pull off the upset. But then, the incredible happened. After recording two quick outs on the Bombers in the bottom of the fifth, the next three hitters all reached base, loading them up. Matty S. did the rest, when, with a full count, he demolished a WALK-OFF GRAND SLAM (!!!!) to send the Bombers to the next round! You can’t make this stuff up! Both teams could not have picked a better game to showcase their very best.

 

Homers @ Mashers

Homers 7

Mashers 19

The Mashers and Homers battled it out for a chance to play in the Championship game Saturday afternoon. Both teams came out strong on offense, putting up six runs each in the first inning. It was all tied up heading into the bottom of the third when the Homers started struggling on the mound. A few walks and a few hits by the Mashers gave them a strong lead going into the fourth inning. Oliver H. came in to pitch a strong inning to close out the game and secure a championship bid for the Mashers! Oliver also led the offensive charge, reaching base four times and scoring four runs.

 

Mashers @ Bombers

Mashers 11

Bombers 8

The top two seeds in BABL A met in the championship round after two exhilarating games set up the matchup. And we got yet another great game here in the championship round! Both starting pitchers did an excellent job at keeping the runs to a minimum. It was 7-6 heading into the fourth inning, but the Mashers took advantage of the Bombers pitching changes and started racking up the hits, including two each from Alex E., Nathan Z., and Leo P. Leading 11-6 heading into the bottom of the fifth, Luca P. managed to get two quick outs after loading the bases early on. Leo came in to close out the game and did just that by forcing a pop-up to third base for the final out of the championship game! Matty S. followed up his heroic game against the Sluggers with another home run (!!) – this one a two-run shot – and a single, while his teammate Jae P. scored twice as well. It was a hard fought battle by both teams, but the Mashers came out on top!

 

BABL AA

 

Factory @ Splitters

Factory 4

Splitters 5

Coming off their only loss of the regular season last weekend, the top-seeded Splitters weren’t looking to make that a trend. They came in as heavy favorites over Baseball Factory. The game was not the blowout they anticipated – there were a total of three hits between the two teams, and the Splitters had only one of them. The Splitters took a one run lead in the bottom of the first, but good defense and pitching from kept the game low scoring until the third inning, when Factory jumped out to a 4-1 lead. The Splitters answered with two runs of their own in the third. In the top of the fourth inning, Luke R. took the mound and put the brakes on Factory’s offense. The Splitters would add the game-tying, and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the fourth on their only clean hit of the day off the bat of Tommy D. Luke returned to the mound and earned the win in game one, striking out four. It’s not about how you win, it’s about how many you win, and the Splitters managed to win ugly and advance to the semi-finals.

 

Curveballs @ Fastballs

Curveballs 6

Fastballs 7

In a back-and-forth battle, the Fastballs trailed twice against the underdog Curveballs – falling behind 0-3 and 4-6 at different points – but rallied to tie the game in the third . A scoreless fourth on both sides set up one of the greatest hits in BABL history! Not to be undone by the Bombers’ heroics in their game against the Sluggers, Stephen W. of the Fastballs had his own flair for the dramatic on Saturday as well. With two quick outs in the bottom of the fifth, Stephen stepped up to the plate and absolutely DESTROYED the next pitch  off the top of the tall fence in CF. If the fence on Cabin John Field #4 is about 15 feet high, the ball hit off the 12 foot mark. Stephen motored around for a walk-off HR to nail the epic win! On the day, Stephen went 3-4 with a triple, that home run, and six stolen bases. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Curveballs, who gave the Fastballs all they could handle right up to the end.

 

Changeups @ Screwballs

Changeups 5

Screwballs 9

The Changeups had their eyes set on upsetting a favored Screwballs team, but the wheels came off late, allowing the Screwballs to advance. Logan Z. and Joey K. combined to limit the damage on the mound for the Screwballs, with Joey in particular doing a tremendous job in his two innings of work. Lance H. and Timmy L. had three hits each for the Screwballs, with Will M. driving in three to lead the team. Jackson F. hit a two-run home run for the Changeups, and Jonah S. pitched his heart out and kept the game close, but unfortunately for the Changeups, too many late errors – both physical and mental – doomed them.

 

Sliders @ Movers

Sliders 0

Movers 2

The fourth-seeded Movers and the fifth-seeded Sliders played a pitchers duel in the early afternoon, with the winner advancing to play the Splitters, who looked vulnerable after a narrow win over Baseball Factory. Wells T. started for the Sliders and was in complete control, striking out eight in three innings without allowing a hit. However, as the game dragged on with little else going right for the Sliders, they went to the bullpen. Maybe a new pitcher would ignite a spark under them offensively. Maybe it could be the turning point for the game. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, as the bullpen bended just enough for the Movers to sneak through with the only two runs of the ballgame, courtesy of a clutch single by Marcus H. following some good at bats. Robert B. matched Wells on the mound, going four innings and allowing no runs or hits.

 

Movers @ Splitters

Movers 5

Splitters 7

After each team won their first game, the Movers faced off with the Splitters in the semi-finals. The Splitters sent Will F. to the mound, and all he did was pitch four innings, striking out eight with 14 first-pitch strikes. While the Movers did have some stinging hits on the day, most notably off the bats of Shrey A. and Aidan W., Will proved to be too much. It was a back-and-forth game, especially early – the Movers scored one in the very first inning, but that was answered by three Splitters runs immediately thereafter. The second inning was the same as the first, with Splitters adding four instead of three, including a pair of RBIs from Ben C. A scoreless third inning provided some gold-glove caliber plays in the infield and outfield. After 3, the score was 7-2 Splitters. With a 7-2 lead, and Will on his last legs after letting up two, Luke R. took over in the fifth inning. Luke gave up a run, but held off the Movers’ bats, striking out three, and earning the save to send the Splitters on the championship game!

 

Screwballs @ Fastballs

Screwballs 16

Fastballs 2

In what looked to be a good matchup on paper, the Screwballs and Fastballs met for the first time since the two played twice in the opening week (once on the first Saturday, then again on the first ever Monday Night BABL game). This game was a laugher, though. In the only real blowout in BABL AA, the Screwballs put up six runs in the top of the first inning and never looked back. The bottom of the order came up big for the Screwballs, as Joey K., Charlie R., and Kevin Z. each recorded two hits from the final spots in the order. Even with the game out of hand early, the Screwballs managed to score multiple runs in every inning, punching their ticket to the championship game! The Fastballs managed only two hits on the day and couldn’t find enough consistency in their pitching and defense to keep the game within striking distance.

 

Screwballs @ Splitters

Screwballs 4

Splitters 10

The championship game came down to the best team all season, the Splitters, and the team coming off a two touchdown margin of victory in their previous game, the Screwballs. Both teams returned to their game one pitchers, with Logan Z. and Tommy D. each looking to improve on their earlier starts. Tommy held the Screwballs scoreless in the first 3 innings, allowing only one run in the fourth. He finished with five strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP in the game. Logan pitched well, holding the Splitters scoreless in the first, but quality at-bats, a patient approach, and timely hitting from Will F. and Luke R. broke the game open for the Splitters in the bottom of the second, plating seven runs. The Splitters would tack on another run in the third to make it 8-0. The Screwballs scratched across a run in the top of the fourth, only to be counter-punched for a run in the bottom half, making it 9-1 Splitters after four. The fifth inning featured Luke taking the mound for the third time on the day. While he was not lights out, he was the right man for the job, allowing one run the fifth inning and two in the sixth. The Splitters won the BABL AA Championship by a score of 10-4! Congratulations, Splitters!

 

The BABL AA champion Splitters!

 

BABL AAA

 

Dingers @ Slammers

Dingers 5

Slammers 10

MLB has the wild card games, where two wild card teams battle for the right to advance to the next stage or the playoffs. BABL AAA had its own wild card game on Friday night, under the lights at Povich Field, between the Dingers and the Slammers. The winner lives to see tomorrow. The loser sees their season end abruptly. You couldn’t ask for a better way to kick off the playoffs. It was a battle of aces for both teams, as Stevie J. and Oree Y. took the bump for the Dingers and Slammers, respectively. The Dingers jumped out to an early lead, thanks in part to Stevie’s own RBI single. But the tide started to shift by the third inning. Leading 5-3, the Dingers’ defense and pitching started to fade. The Slammers got runners on base, and eventually took the lead for good on a two-run double from Aiden K., making the score 6-5. The Slammers put on four more insurance runs in the fourth inning, with singles from Benjy E., Oree, Thomas A., and Robby D. Roan D. pitched two innings of scoreless relief, and just like that, the Slammers were moving on, while the Dingers were going home.

 

Wreckers @ Launchers

Wreckers 6

Launchers 11

The first BABL AAA game of the day on Saturday pitted the Wreckers up against the Launchers. The Launchers controlled this game from the start in large part due to the work on the mound of Cody P. Cody went most of the game on the mound, ceding later as his pitch count began to climb. The Launchers had a few good hits from Alex V. and others, but they mainly utilized a patient approach against the Wreckers’ staff. The Wreckers fought hard and were able to battle back in the late innings but unfortunately could not get the win. Ricky R. pitched a great 3 innings for the team. He kept the team in contention by throwing strikes and getting outs even when the team was down. Peter L. ripped a single to left field in the late innings to start a rally as well. The Wreckers fought hard all season long, and their tenacity and unwillingness to give up was great to see. But in the end, only one team could advance, and that team was the Launchers.

 

Slammers @ Blasters

Slammers 16

Blasters 2

Fresh off a win the previous night, the Slammers weren’t just happy to be there on Saturday – they wanted to move on and play in the championship game. But they faced a tough road on paper to get there, needing to beat the top seeded Blasters in order to make it there. That proved to be easy, as they handled the Blasters with ease, 16-2. The Slammers were beneficiaries of some shaky Blasters defense, as the home team kept shooting itself in the foot on defense. That said, several Slammers still shined at the plate, putting balls in play that the defense couldn’t hope to stop. Chief among them was Sammy K., who ripped two big doubles early in the game, and Roan D., who had several hard hits. Will S. pitched a complete game, allowing only two runs on three hits with four strikeouts. Michael S. received his All-Star game MVP trophy after the game, and the Slammers prepared for the championship game against the Launchers.

 

Slammers @ Launchers

Slammers 15

Launchers 18

Very few people expected the Slammers to make it as far as they did. They were playing with house money, so to speak, and they jumped out to the early lead over the Nico C. and the Launchers. Nico had plenty of velocity, but his command was shaky, which led to plenty of early scoring opportunities for the Slammers. Oree Y., Robby D., and Roan D. all recorded hits off of Nico, and it helped the Slammers take a big 10-3 lead early. Will S. and Oree combined to pitch the first three innings, but the wheels came flying off after that. Larry B. came in for the Launchers and was dominant on the mound and at the plate starting in the middle innings. Larry struck out nine Slammers in relief and added a booming triple that went all the way to the wall at Povich Field. The Launchers slowly chipped away at the game until they took a late lead. The Slammers’ final inning had a couple of runs cross the plate, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. Alex R. came in and pitched around trouble to shut down the game and secure a championship for the Launchers!

 

Travel

 

Koa 10U vs. Falls Church Copperheads 10U/Mt. Vernon Patriots 10U

Game 1: 7-6 loss

Game 2: 9-2 win

A split for the 10U Green Wave on Sunday, as poor defense led to them losing their first pool play game, but a defensive turnaround led to them taking their second game. In game one, Koa jumped out to an early 6-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third, but couldn’t manage another run thereafter. Meanwhile, Falls Church made a strong comeback bid in the third and fourth innings to get the lead, and managed to hold it as the game winded down. Andreas J. and Alex C. had a pair of RBIs each. In game two, the defense turned around and played much better. Reed S. started for the Green Wave and did not disappoint. He only threw two full innings before the game was called in the third inning due to weather (don’t worry, the win still counts!), but those two innings were good ones, as he allowed no earned runs. The bats were active in game two, with Evan K. and Drew J. notching two hits each, and Tyler R. and Jacob E. driving in two each as well.

 

Koa 12U vs. Metro Senators 12U/Virginia Bombers 12U

Game 1: 7-7 tie

Game 2: 1-0 win

The first pool play game for the 12U Green Wave was a strange one, but the second game had one of the best pitching performances of the season from any Koa baseball team, BABL or travel. The first game, which ended in a tie, had nine total runs scored in the second inning. Koa’s second inning rally was led by singles from Mason R., Jay W., and Andrew L. Down by three in the bottom of the last inning, the Green Wave rallied to score exactly three to tie the game before it was called due to time. Game two saw Andrew take the bump – a place he’s been familiar with this season – and he pitched the game of his life. Andrew threw a complete game no hitter against the Virginia Bombers, striking out five and walking only one. 39 of his 52 pitches were strikes – good for a 3:1 strike-to-ball ratio that looks as dominant in the stat sheet as it does in real life. Andrew is Koa’s Pitcher of the Week for his efforts, and for good reason. Congrats, dude!

 

Koa 11U, 13U, 14U, and JV

 

Rained out

 

“And when your fears subside

And shadows still remain, oh yeah

I know that you can love me

When there’s no one left to blame

So never mind the darkness

We still can find a way

‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever

Even cold November rain”

 

Next Week:

Koa 10U at the NVTBL End of Season Tournament

Koa 11U at the NVTBL End of Season Tournament

Koa 12U at the NVTBL End of Season Tournament

Koa 13U at the Ripken Experience Walk-Off Tournament

Koa 14U vs. West Springfield Vipers 14U

 

Player of the Week

Matty S. – Bombers

2 HR (walk-off GS & 2-R HR!) in two games

 

Pitcher of the Week

Andrew L. – 12U

No-Hitter! – 6 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 75% strikes thrown

 

BABL Playoff Recap

BABL A

(1) Bombers over (4) Sluggers

(2) Mashers over (3) Homers

(2) Mashers over (1) Bombers

BABL AA

(1) Splitters over (8) Baseball Factory

(2) Fastballs over (7) Curveballs

(3) Screwballs over (6) Changeups

(4) Movers over (5) Sliders

(1) Splitters over (4) Movers

(3) Screwballs over (2) Fastballs

(1) Splitters over (3) Screwballs

BABL AAA

(4) Slammers over (5) Dingers

(2) Launchers over (3) Wreckers

(4) Slammers over (1) Blasters

(2) Launchers over (4) Slammers

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