Game 1: Tuesday, September 17th @ 8:30
Southside 5 - Simpson Club 3
In a game that was lacking offense but featured very effective pitching by both sides, Southside takes game one when they plate three late runs.
The Simpson Club opened the scoring when they took advantage of a couple of miscues and got a timely hit by Matt Savage, 2-0. Southside responded in the bottom of the third when lefty Sam MacDonald hit another one of his line drive doubles to right center, 2-1. MacDonald then scored the tying run on Miguel Dupree's (3 hits, 3 RBI) single.
Simpson Club regained the lead in the fourth when Scott Simpson led off with a double and was chased home by Mike Garland's single, 3-2. The boys in white then loaded the bases and had the top of the order up. However, pitcher Javy Lopez weasled out of the jam by producing an infield pop up and a routine fly ball out. The lack of additional runs in this spot would come back to haunt the Simpson Club.
The game moved to the bottom of the fifth with Simpson still clinging to a 3-2 lead. Southside loaded the bases for MacDonald but the steady hitter lost the battle to pitcher Mike Garland and hit an infield fly. Now with two outs and the bases still loaded, Miguel Dupree stepped into the batter's box. Dupree ripped a double to left center that scored two but got the trailing runner thrown out at the plate, 4-3 Southside.
In the sixth, things got out of hand as they sometimes do in the heat of the battle. With runners on first and second, Matt Savage hit a grounder to the second baseman that was handled and tossed to second for the force out. However, the shortstop appeared to have dropped the ball but the umpire had called out the baserunner. There was an argument and threats an dmore arguing and more threats. When things finally cooled down the inning came to an end on a routine fly out. With a safe call here the thinking is that Simpson Club would have at least tied the game but who knows as the next batter could have struck out and made it all moot.
In any case, with the feeling that they had been robbed of an opportunity if not at least a run, the Simpson Club gave up another in the bottom of the sixth and then went down 1-2-3 in the seventh. They will need to quickly put this one behind them or face the daunting task of needing to win three in a row.
Mike Lush made an outstanding play in the second inning when he snagged a ball that was hit over his head and beyond his glove hand reach...so he caught it with his bare hand. Outstanding!
Mike Lush sports his "Play for a Purpose"
shirt in memory of Pat Simpson
Game 2: Wednesday, September 18th @ 7PM
Simpson Club 13 - Southside Tavern 4
After a scoreless first inning, the Simpson Club's offense erupted in the bottom of the second inning by scoring seven runs and then coasted to a series tying victory over Southside Tavern.
With one out and bases loaded, Pat Triggs opened the scoring with a hard hit single. Matt Savage then followed with another single that drove in two more runs, 3-0. Chris Flaherty got in the act with a RBI single and then Mark Goodman was walked to reload the bases. At this point, the bullpen was stirring for Southside as MVP pitcher Jason Calnan was getting roughed up on the mound. Before getting pulled Calnan was touched up for two more runs on Mike "Playing for a Purpose" Lush's two run single, 6-0. Taking over was Javy Colon who has been excellent on the mound this year. The former shortstop yielded a run on a fielder's choice then got the next batter to end the inning, 7-0.
Southside cut into the lead in the fourth when Simpson's pitcher, Mike Garland, ran into his own problems. Garland, who has great control, was struggling (9 walks) to find the plate on this night. In fact, he walked the bases loaded and then gave up a run via a walk to Colon, 7-1. With the Simpson Club fielder's getting antsy but with nowhere to turn they gathered at the mound to pick up their burly pitcher. A ground out scored another run but then Garland escaped the jam with a routine fly out, 7-2.
Southside loaded the bases again in the fifth which brought on more anxious moments but Garland minimized the damage by giving up just a run, 7-3. The Simpson Club answered with two runs in the home half of the inning on RBI hits by Scott Simpson and Pat Triggs, 9-3.
Again, Southside loaded the bases in the sixth but couldn't get that one big hit to put them back in the game. Instead, they settled for a single run and wondered what could have been, 9-4. Simpson's offense finally broke through against a laboring Colon (sore knee) in the bottom of the sixth when Garland doubled home two runs and later scored on another Triggs single, 13-4.
Southside went down in order in the seventh and we had a tied series (1-1). The teams will take a break and resume on Monday with a big game three. Simpson Club clearly has the momentum now but the experience of the Southside team can quickly turn that around.
Simpson Club's pitcher Mike Garland and thirdbaseman Pat Sullivan
Game 3: Monday, September 23rd @ 8:30
Simpson Club 19 - Southside Tavern 5
The Pat Simpson Club scored eight runs in the first inning to chase starting pitcher Miguel Dupree, and never trailed as they win easily and go ahead 2-1 in the Lucas finals.
Control issues and a few timely hits were to blame in this one as Dupree lost the ability to throw strikes. With two outs and two Simpson hitters already on by way of walks, Dupree then walked Brian Hurld to load the bases for Scott Simpson. The strong righty waited for his pitch and then lined a double to left center that scored two, 2-0. Another walk loaded the bases for Jeff Kasper. On a team of stars, Kasper doesn't draw a lot of attention but he is one of their talented "under the radar" players. With one swing, Kasper cleared the bases and put Simpson up 5-0. The scoring wasn't complete, another walk followed by a RBI single by Matt Savage made it 6-0. Chris Flaherty capped the scoring off with another timely hit, 8-0 and it was the end of the night on the mound for Dupree.
Championship teams know how to respond when down and that's exactly what Southside did in the bottom of the second. With two runners on base and one out, Gio Colon laced a double to left making it 8-2. An error followed and suddenly the Simpson Club was playing tight. Kevin Ohara made it 8-3 with a single to center, Dupree made it 8-5 with another single as Ohara barked "here we come!"
However, this version of the Simpson Club wasn't about to let the champions off the ropes...at least not easily. In the top of the third, a lead off triple by Chris Flaherty got the scoring started. Mark Goodman then followed with a RBI single making it 9-5. Mike Lush followed with a clutch double and Simpson was back up and feeling good again, 12-5.
Pitcher Mike Garland then retired the side in order in the third and one could feel this was Simpson's night. After a quiet fourth inning with no scoring, Simpson's offense went back to work in the fifth. With the bases loaded, Lush came through with his second big hit of the game when he cleared the fences with a three run home run, 15-5. A double to Bulman and Hurld led to another run, 16-5. Garland brought Hurld in with a sacrifice fly, 17-5. Kasper, Pat Sullivan, and Savage got in the act and before you knew it, the Simpson Club had blown this wide open, 19-5.
Needing three runs to avoid the "12 run mercy rule", Southside managed to load the bases in the bottom of the fifth but couldn't push any runs across as they fell hard in game three and will need to regroup to even the series in game four.
Game 4: Tuesday, September 24th @ 8pm
Simpson Club 4 - Southside Tavern 3
The Pat Simpson Club rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning to win their first M Street Championship that set off a wild celebration and firework display.
The three time defending champion Southside Tavern showed up with their game faces on and were ready to even the series from the outset. In the first inning, Southside took a quick 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Vladi Camacho and Roger Peguero. Pitcher Jason Calnan then took the mound and with a blank stare and determined way about him; retired the side in order. Things were looking very good for Southside through an inning of play.
Simpson Club got on the scoreboard in the second when Mike Garland singled home Mike Bulman, 2-1. With both Garland and Calnan on top of their game, the same score stood until the top of the fourth inning. In the fourth, an error then a clutch two out RBI single by Peguero made it 3-1 Southside. The league officials were starting to make plans for a possible game five.
Garland set the side down in order in the fifth and sixth innings which kept Simpson within striking distance. Finally in the sixth the game took a major turn both on the scoreboard and in the noise level. Calnan retired the first two batters with ease - two infield ground outs but then Mark Goodman saw an opening and went for it. For strategic reasons, Southside had deployed a five infielder defense and went with three outfielders all game long. The outfielders were shifted far left for Goodman, who has been known as a dead pull hitter. With one peak to right, Goodman lined the first pitch he saw to right which went for a triple. As he pulled up to third base the stalky outfielder yelled, "come on, let's go!" Next up was Mike Lush who had been delivering key hits throughout the playoffs. On a 1-1 offering, Lush hit a missle to the left center gap that went for a double and easily plated Goodman, 3-2. With cow bells clanging from the stands and the Simpson Club going wild on the sideline, the pressure was now mounting on Southside and Calnan's shoulders.
Southside halted play and several players gathered at the mound to pick up their pitcher. "I got this, I'm Ok," Calnan reassured his team that he wasn't unraveling and that he felt he could get out of the inning with the lead. Mike Bulman stepped into the batter's box as fellow league official, Jim Sullivan, noted that Bulman is one of M Street's fastest runners. Calnan couldn't find the plate against Bulman and walked him on four pitches. Still up a run with two outs and two men on base, the Southside infielders gathered around their pitcher for another discussion - this one was lengthy. Team captain and brother of the team's namesake, Scott Simpson was the sixth batter of the inning. Simpson took a mighty rip at Calnan's first offering but fouled it off, 0-1. On a 1-1 count, Simpson hit a grounder to the right side of the infield that eluded everyone but was quickly cut off by Vladi Camacho in right field. Lush roared around third and raced towards home as Camacho's throw appeared to be on target. It was going to be close. The throw, arrived a bit high and towards the first base side, which catcher Luis Fonseca quickly snagged and spun around with a sweep tag. However, Lush had slid in head first just before the tag was applied to his back and we had a tied game, 3-3. The crowd was in a real frenzy now. After a brief discussion with home plate umpire Mike Lydon, Bulman was standing at third and Simpson had pulled up to second on the throw.
MVP - Mike Lush begins his slide at home
With Calnan a bit rattled and the Simpson Club going crazy, Southside discussed their strategy again and pitched around Garland to get to Jeff Kasper. Team bull horn/injured pitcher, Jerry Sarro, could be heard on every pitch...shouting encouragement to his batter while trying everything he could to get Calnan to lose his focus. "Get the cow bells going, get the cow bells going," yelled Sarro. Calnan fell behind 3-1 and for whatever reason, another discussion was held on the mound. The next pitch was in the dirt and in five pitches, as dramatic as this game was, Kasper had walked to force Bulman home and put Simpson ahead, 4-3. Calnan then recovered and produced and inning ending ground out and we were on to the seventh inning as it was suddenly last call for Southside.
At this point, Garland and his Simpson Club teammates could feel the championship victory was very near. One they had been searching for since they entered the league in 2016. Garland was on a role as he had retired seven straight batters with the last hit coming in the fourth inning. On the third pitch of the inning, the lefty Camacho lofted a fly ball to short left that looked as if it could fall for a leadoff hit but Goodman raced in and squeezed the out with two hands. Eight in a row. Next up was lefty hitter Roger Peguero, who also hit a fly to left but this was routine and easily handled by Goodman. Nine in a row retired by Garland and one out away from a championship. Javy Colon, who pitched Southside to the finals with his brilliant relief work in the Pirates series, was their last chance and was also a lefty. On a 1-2 count, Colon lifted another ball to left and this one had the same arc as the first out...destined to find grass. But Goodman, who started the rally in the sixth with a head's up triple, raced in and squeezed the final out. Garland had retired ten in a row and the Simpson Club were the 2019 Lucas ("A") champions.
MVP - Mike Garland fires the last pitch of the series
A wild celebration began at third base as relief, satisfaction, purpose, and reflection all poured over the players. The team quickly broke from the celebration to meet with Southside (who were very gracious in defeat) and exchange handshakes. Once that was out of the way, fireworks were set off from the pitcher's mound. Yes, real fireworks folks! Colorful star shells were exploding over the M Street field which was a beautiful site to see. Afterwards, the team gathered at home plate for the presentation of the M Street Cup. The massive 30lb league relic was placed at home plate as the players gathered around for a team photo. It was then announced that pitcher Mike Garland (7-2 in playoffs) and Mike Lush were named MVP's by the league commissioner (yours truly). After all the crazy celebrations were done, Scott Simpson and his parents gathered around the trophy for a photo and an emotional embrace. Tears flowed as they remembered their son and brother, Pat, who was looking down upon them all flashing his proud championship smile.
2019 Lucas Division ("A") Champions - Pat Simpson Club
Front row left to right - Matt Savage, Mike Bulman, Pat Sullivan, and Scott Simpson
Middle row left to right - Mr and Mrs Simpson, Brad Morrill, and Mark Goodman
Back row left to right - Mike Lush, Marc Coppola, Brian Hurld, Chris Flaherty, Jerry Sarro, Andrew Stover, Jeff Kasper, Pat Triggs, and Mike Garland.
Missing from the photo is Brian Goodman
Simpson wins championship 3-1