After a must win game for the Milleteers on Monday versus the Ryley Rebels on the last game of the regular season, the teams got right back at it on Tuesday and Thursday in the first round of the playoffs.
Game one saw All Star Chad Soucy get the start for the Milleteers, while Ryley countered with veteran Corey Epp. The Rebels would score first after getting a one out walk and a steal, then a clutch single from clean up hitter Craig Koughan, who would be a thorn in Soucy’s side all night.
The Milleteers would finally break through with four singles in the third to plate two, but then that was it for the offense. Epp did a great job of not allowing the clutch hit to break it open and the Rebel defense was solid all night.
The Rebels would finally break through in the sixth as they would string together a bunch of hits to score two, and would add some insurance in the seventh. To add to the mess 3B Trevor Pahl got spiked and would have to go on the DL for the rest of the series.
The Milleteers would surrender meekly in the seventh to Rebel closer Tom Shulba as he nailed down the save and give the Rebels their first ever playoff victory against the Milleteers in seven tries.
Game two saw the same lack luster, low intensity effort from the Milleteers as they put forth in the first game. The Rebels on the other hand kept up their good defense and clutch hitting and it paid off with an easy win.
Steven Pahl and his 11-1 all time PBL playoff record got the start for the Milleteers, while the Rebels countered with emergency starter Shawn Pilgaard as ace Scott Koughan couldn’t make it out.
Pahl got out of the first, but in the second and third innings the Rebels put up five unearned runs as the left side of the Milleteers infield made five errors. The big blow came off the bat of game 1 starter Corey Epp as he laced a double to the gap to clear the bases.
After that Pahl held the Rebels at bay the rest of the way as they got away from the successful strategy of hitting grounders to the left side and the Milleteers defense converted outs the rest of the way.
On the other side of the ball the Pilgaard kept the slumping Milleteers bats in the deep freeze as he put up zeroes through the first five innings. In the sixth the Milleteers finally got a little rally going as they got one back and were threatening for more, but a base running gaffe at third killed all momentum. Rebels closer Tom Shulba came on in the seventh and had another three up, three down inning to send the Rebels to their first finals appearance since 2010.
The loss sends the Milleteers into the off season in an unfamilar place as they will come into next season as contenders, and not champions. With a lineup that has been essentially the same for six seasons it seems to have gone a little stale. It would seem a minor retooling would be in order to inject some intensity and hunger for next season.