Playoff / Championship Recap

Pink Penguins Fan Club out in full force
The 2013 HWL Playoffs were an occurrence to remember and blew 2012's playoffs completely out of the water. The 2013 Playoffs began on a promising note on July 2nd as the 1st round and Semifinals got underway. The first place Maroon $quad (21-2) and second place Holy Balls (17-6) received byes in the first round and the bottom four teams were left to duke it out to see who would advance to the semifinals. The Welfare Warriors (2-22) squared off against the Pink Penguins (12-11) one field one in the first round. On field two the Terrorhawks (7-17) were set to do battle with their old nemesis Beaver Fever (11-12). The Pink Penguins would defeat the Welfare Warriors in only 4 innings (see box score) with the final score of 10-0. Thelmer Damron and Ryan Miller hit one home run each but the real story in that game is Brad Koeppen making his first pitching appearance all year and having a one-hit shut out. He also only walked one batter, not bad for his first time. It was a risky move, considering the HWL has no pitcher rotation rules, in order to preserve Thelmer Damron's arm for the semifinals.

Brandon Woolum: 4-6, 3 RBIs, BB, & K
On the other field the Terrorhawks were attempting to stay alive and best their old rival one last time. Up until the last portion of the season the Terrorhawks had performed well against Beaver Fever 3-2 against them all season but only outscored them 35-30. This success was aided by Andrew Hankins who typically pitched well against Beaver Fever. Hankins and Smith would normally do quite well offensively against them and that would be enough to get the win. But Hankins was missing in action in the first round and it would prove to be costly. Smith was left to pitch and carry offense and had what is arguably the best offensive effort of the entire playoffs - hitting .857 and 2 HRs. Jule Meadows also hit a solo HR and hit .500. But in the end it was not enough as Beaver Fever were near full strength. Greg Sowards and Zach Daniels both batted 1.000 and Brandon Woolum went 4-6 which kept the offensive momentum going. The relentlessness of Beaver Fever's offensive was too much for the Terrorhawks to overcome (even in 5 innings). The final score was 15-3 (see box score).

The semifinal game between the Holy Balls and Beaver Fever was an unexpected blowout. Holy Balls showed up with only 3 players: Brent Thompson, Kevin Lawrence, & Todd Ritter. Lawrence decided to pitch and only allowed 3 hits while striking out 2 and only allowing 2 walks. Lawrence really carried his team with his bat by hitting 5 home runs (seriously) during the game and was responsible for 11 of the team's 15 RBIs. Greg Sowards hit a home run and Mike Saxton hit a triple, but other than that Beaver Fever was quite offensively and only scored 2 runs the entire game. Thompson and Ritter would hit a home run each before the game was over and the frustration of Beaver Fever was apparent in the second inning when Holy Balls scored 9 runs. The game would end early in the 3rd inning with a mercy rule and the final score of 15-2, ending Beaver Fever's hopes of a repeat championship (see box score). 

Pink Penguins Fall 3-2 in semifinals
The closest game of the entire playoffs took place in the other semifinal game between the Pink Penguins and Maroon $quad. The Pink Penguins were the first team to ever defeat the seemingly invincible Maroon $quad late in the regular season. Spirits were high for the Pink Penguins as they saved their ace, Cy Wiffle hopeful Thelmer Damron, for the semifinal game. Damron pitched a great game but the Maroon $quad had some hits where it counted. But for much of the game the Pink Penguins had the upper hand and got off to an early 2-run lead in the top of the 1st inning. James Clagg initially struggled to hit the zone in the top of the 1st and walked 3 batters (much higher than his normal), he would walk a total of 4 the entire game. The Maroon $quad did not score until the bottom of the 2nd with a solo home run by Josh Hager. Randy Steele, who normally is one of the best hitters in the league, went 0-3 in the game with a flyout, ground out, and strike out. Ryan Briers also was of no help at bat going 0-3 with 2 strike outs but did manage to reach base with a walk one time. James Clagg did more than enough at the plate to help himself on the mound. He went 2-3 with a 2-run home run. That home run, which came in the bottom of the 4th, would be enough to put the Pink Penguins away (see box score).

Pregame meeting / Q & A
Some predicted that the championship would come down the Holy Balls and Maroon $quad. The Holy Balls forfeited 4 games this season, the most games of any team all season, 3 of which were against the Maroon $quad. Players from other teams who observed the Holy Balls play figured it was only a matter of time before their stellar offense and outfield would get the best of the $quad but 3 of their 5 scheduled matchups never occurred so they had yet to prove themselves as a possible number one throughout the season. The setup for the championship was much more planned out than last year with 3 cameras set up around the field to capture the game from every angle and 2 volunteer umpires (Ryan Miller & Thelmer Damron) to help officiate the game. Greg Sowards, Josh Smith, & Brandon Woolum originally intended to record commentary during gameplay but technical difficulties intervened. Footage of the game along with commentary dubbed over it will be made available some time during the off-season.

Josh Hager hit the game
winning home run
Kevin Lawrence (one of the most successful pitchers in the league) was on the mound for the Holy Balls and James Clagg took the mound for the Maroon $quad once again. Clagg once again had trouble finding the zone and walked 3 batters and gave up 2 runs in the top of the 1st inning. Lawrence also walked the bases loaded but his defense did not let any score. Clagg gained control over the ball throughout the rest of the game and did not let any more runs score for the remainder of the evening. However, it was a different story for Kevin Lawrence, who walked an additional 4 batters and gave up 2 runs in the bottom of the second inning before Tim Dillon came in to relieve him. The game was tied going into the 3rd inning and would remain that way until the 5th inning. The Holy Balls got 2 runners on base but a fielders choice and strikeout ended their attempt to pull ahead. The Maroon $quad looks as if they were not going to fare much better and take the game to extra innings as Randy Steele grounded out. But Ryan Briers took his third walk of the evening and become the possible game winning runner. Finally, Josh Hager appeared at the plate. He hit a slow grounder near the 20' marker that is used to determine if a ball had enough momentum to be fair or foul. The two umpires initially disagreed where the ball ended up and the ball would be ruled foul. Hager's teammates were disappointed with the call and feared that it may end up costing them the game. The very next pitch Tim Dillon threw was hit over the fence much to the elation of Hager and his teammates. The game winning home run made the Maroon $quad the 2013 Huntington Wiffle League Champions! The home run made Hager the obvious pick for the Playoff MVP award that was waiting for him when he crossed home plate.

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