The Milleteers made history Wednesday night as they became the third PBL franchise in the modern era to win three in a row, joining the Armena and Ryley dynasties. Early on though it looked like the baseball gods had it in for the Milleteers as on the first play of the game the Milleteers lost their starting catcher Shane Gerein as he tripped over the hitters bat throwing to first on a third strike curve ball in the dirt and wrecked his back. Losing the best blocker in the league proved to be a big blow to starter Steven Pahl as it took his big overhand curve out of play. In stepped backup catcher Brad Engel, who played sparingly in the second half of the season due to work and wedding commitments. After a clean first the injury bug would hit again as Engel took a foul tip off his throwing hand in the second. The swelling and disfigurement was apparent immediately, but showing legendary toughness he refused to come out and taped it up and finished the game before going to the hospital to get the break surgically repaired.
Holden used the injuries to their advantage as they didn’t have to worry about the curve in the dirt that had gave them fits all year and they stole second at will as Engel could barely even grip the ball. In the third they capitalized after the number nine hitter lead off with a single and a stolen base. Then a dropped fly ball to right and another stolen base put runners at second and third. Then with the infield drawn in Holden veteran Pat Kawaliuk hit a chopper up the middle to score two. Holden would add to the lead in the fifth as Kawaliuk got another RBI single to put the young Blue Jays ahead by three.
At the dish the Milleteers looked lost early on as they couldn’t figure out surprise Holden starter Maury Micklich. Micklich kept them off balance early as he mixed his pitches effectively. When the Milleteers did hit the ball hard the Holden fielders were positioned well to make plays and when runners got on All Star catcher Dylan Boyko was gunning them out as he went two for two on steal attempts.
With the championship within their grasp the young Blue Jays got a little tight as in the fifth the Milleteers finally broke through after nine hole hitter Adam Pahl got on with an error to the third baseman, then Kelly Landaker hit a deep fly to left the was dropped to put runners on second and third with no out. After an infield pop, Trevor Pahl hit another deep shot to left for a long sac fly to finally get the Milleteers on the board. Then they scratched another one across as a wild pitch scored another run. Then after back to back singles the call to the bullpen was made and Jake Throworsky came in and promptly walked the next guy to load the bases. With Engel and his broken hand up to bat all Throworsky had to do was throw strikes as he couldn’t swing it, and he eventually did after running the count to 3-0, he came back with three straight strikes to end the threat with the lead barely intact.
In the sixth the Milleteers then turned to the bullpen as well as they brought in flame throwing closer Jon Anstey. The Blue Jays would quickly start a rally however as the leadoff hitter stroked a single, then Anstey threw away a sac bunt, but a heads up play by 2B Shawn Brinkworth saved a run as he backed up first and snared the errant throw. Brinkworth was not finished flashing the leather yet as on the next play he made diving over the shoulder catch on a bloop to again save a run. Anstey would then settle in as he K’d the next two batters to keep it a one run game.
Brinkworth continued to lead the comeback charge as he led off the bottom of the sixth with a deep shot to straight away center that looked catchable, but with the CF hustling back it tipped off his glove and Brinkworth rumbled into third. After a safety squeeze from Adam Pahl turned into a base hit to set up first and third with no out the wheels fell off for Holden. After a strikeout a passed ball scored Brinkworth, then a liner off the pitcher set up another first and third. Two more passed balls followed to give the Milleteers a 5-3 lead heading into the seventh.
In the seventh Anstey got off to a good start as he struck out the first batter, but then walked the second. Another strikeout and walk put the tieing run on first with two outs. With the sun going down and the clouds rolling in Anstey got the next batter to hit a weak come backer, but he threw it away again to first, but this time 1B Steven Pahl sensed the wild throw coming and was already off the bag to nimbly snag the throw and slap the tag on to put away the championship.
After a some champagne out of the cup the Milleteers that didn’t have to go to the hospital went down to Leanne’s to drink some more out of the cup and celebrate another championship. Now that the Milleteers have become an official dynasty the pressure will be on to defend again next year as the young Blue Jays will be a year wiser, to go along with the rest of the PBL that will be gunning for them.
The Final Out