They led wire to wire, leaving no doubt that 2016 was their year to shine. And shine they did, as the Tom’s Market Pirates last week clinched the 2016 Minor League Championship, finishing with an overall record of 10–2, two games ahead of the defending champion, Yellow Springe Chiropractic Indians.

The Pirates opened last week’s play with a resounding 16–2 defeat of a depleted Indians squad on Monday, July 11. The Pirates’ hitting was one of their strongest performances of the season, as 12 of 13 players had at least one hit. They put up ten runs in the first three innings to put the game away early, finishing with 25 total hits, 19 of which, along with 14 RBIs and 14 runs came from seven players. J.P. Anderson, Dylan Reed, and Malik Royalston all had a perfect three-for-three day at the plate and three RBIs. Shawn VanHoose also finished three-for-three with three runs scored and two RBIs, while Hazen VanMeter also went three-for-three on the day with one RBI and a pair of runs scored. The Indians were missing several key players and struggled at the plate. Rookie Lilly Kibblewhite knocked in both of her team’s runs, the first on a second-inning ground out scoring Anthony Mascola and the other on a fourth-inning RBI single to score Josephine Zinger.

The Tom’s Market Pirates and Peach’s Reds split a pair of games last week, with the Reds seizing a 5–2 victory on Wednesday, July 13, and handing the Pirates only their second loss of the season. The Pirates took a 1–0 first inning lead after Derek Reed tripled and then scored on Brother Dylan’s RBI single. But the Reds responded with two runs in their half of the first thanks to RBI singles by siblings Ben and Scout Espinosa. The Reds infield defense played one of their best games of the season, holding the Pirates to only one more run, a third-inning Derek Reed RBI single that scored Joslyn Herring. The Reds then broke a 2–2 tie and took the lead in the fourth inning on a Ben Espinosa centerfield double, scoring Sam Miller. Scout Espinosa’s infield single sent her brother across the plate and she then scored on Ashley Anadell’s outfield single just before the game was called. The Espinosa brother-sister combo each finished with a pair of hits and as many RBIs to lead the Reds to the win.

The teams met again on Saturday, July 16, in an offensive battle that saw a combined 20 runs before the Tom’s Market Pirates prevailed in an 11–9 victory over the Peach’s Reds. The Pirates wasted no time, grabbing an early 5–0 lead in the first, starting with Hazen VanMeter’s triple, which  he managed to score on thanks to a Reds fielding error. Quinn Creighton’s RBI single then scored Shawn VanHoose, Joslyn Herring’s RBI single plated J.P Anderson and Teddy Horvath’s RBI double scored Herring. The Reds scored three times in the first two innings, a Scout Espinosa RBI single to score Gabriella Perkins in the first, followed in the second by Ashley Anadell scoring on Roddy Luckie’s RBI double. Luckie then scored on a Ben Espinosa RBI single. The Reds exploded for five more runs in the third to take an 8–5 lead thanks to Ben Espinosa’s two-RBI single and Mateo Basora’s two-RBI infield hit, which the Pirates struggled to field. Luckie then added another RBI with a base hit to score Ashley Anadell. But the Pirates tied the game at 8–8 with three runs in the next inning, along another three in the final frame before holding the Reds to only one and sealing the win. Derek Reed and Hazen VanMeter led the Pirates, going 3–3 at the plate, along with Teddy Horvath’s 2–2 performance and three RBIs. Meanwhile Ben Espinosa also went 3–3, a pair of singles and a double, along with three RBIs and one run scored.

Saturday’s second game was also a battle of the bats, as the Yellow Springs Chiropractic Indians and Sam and Eddie’s Open Books Dragons combined for 31 hits and 21 runs that saw the Indians take a come-from-behind 11–10 win. The Indians trailed 10–7 going into their last at-bat in the bottom of the final inning. Aiden Scavone’s triple ripped to center put the tying run on and scored both Josephine Zinger and Hope Danis, both of whom had base hits to lead off the inning. Gabriella Kibblewhite then beat out the throw to first after her infield hit to put the winning run on first. Scavone then tied the score at 10 when he crossed the plate on Max Lugo’s single to center. A Dragons’ overthrow to the infield then resulted in Kibblewhite breaking for home to score the winning run to finish an exciting and well-played game by both teams. Antonio Chaitin led the Dragons with a 3–3 day at the plate and two runs scored, while Kellen Scott contributed a single and a double in as many trips to the plate that resulted in three RBIs. The Indians’ Max Lugo had a 3–4 day at the plate resulting in three RBIs and two runs scored, while Regan Dunn and Aiden Scavone both went 3–3 on the day, scored two runs each and combined for three RBIs.

The Minor League post-season tournament will conclude this Saturday with a 6 p.m. championship game on the Major League field in Gaunt Park. See the league website at http://www.ysbaseball.org for the details of the teams who will be playing.

Meanwhile, despite dropping their last game of the season, the Sunrise Cafe Indians successfully defended their title and are the 2016 Major League champions. They finished with a 7–5 record, just one game ahead of the 6–6 Winds Cafe Reds, who led much of the season, and just two games ahead of the HarkenWard Solutions Cubs who came on strong with a pair of wins in the last week of play to finish at 5–7.

The Sunrise Cafe Indians picked up their final win of the season and clinched the season title in a 14–12 victory over the Winds Cafe Reds on Monday, July 11. The Reds opened a lead early with six first inning runs, to which he Indians responded with four of their own in the bottom of the inning. After a scoreless second, the Reds crossed the plate three times in the third, only to see the Indians respond with four of their own to pull within one. A pair of strikeouts in the fourth helped hold the Reds to only a single run in the fourth. Then the Indians went on a tear and put the game away by crossing the plate six times. Jake Ortiz-Thornton, Vaughn Hendrickson, Blaine Baker, Jeremy and Jaymon Lange, Matt Duncan and Phillip Diamond all scored twice with Tyson Housh adding one run. The Reds’ DeAndre Cowen led his team, smashing four doubles in five plate appearances and scoring four times.

The HarkenWard Solutions Cubs finished the season with a pair of wins, the first in a 7–5 victory over the Winds Cafe Reds on Wednesday, July 16. The teams exchanged runs in the first, then the Cubs defense held the Reds scoreless in the next three innings, thanks in part to five strike outs, while adding one in the second and three more in the third off a DeAndre Cowen double and base hits from Deena Green and Noah VanHoose. Then the Reds defense stiffened and retired the Cubs side in order with three strike outs. The Reds then rallied, tacking on a pair of runs in the last two innings but fell short thanks to four strike outs thrown by VanHoose in the last two innings and the Cubs adding another pair of runs in the fifth. At the plate, VanHoose finished the day with a pair of hits, two RBIs and a run scored. The Reds’ Eamonn Cary had a pair of base hits and three RBIs while Finn Bledsoe and Jackson Bleything both went three-for-five at the plate and scored two runs.

The season finale on Sunday, July 17, saw the surging HarkenWard Solutions Cubs record their second win of the week with a 12–6 victory over the Sunrise Cafe Indians. A strong Cubs defense held the Indians to a single run through three, while putting up a run in the first, three in the second and five in the third to go up 9-1 after three. They never looked back, adding three more runs in the fourth despite a three-run fourth inning from the Indians, along with one more in each of the last two frames. Sean Adams recorded three RBIs and a run scored, while Krishan Miller, DeAndre Cowen and Ethan Knemeyer all scored twice for the Cubs. RBIs were added by Miller, Will Morris, Emmett Cipollini and Noah VanHoose. Jake Ortiz-Thornton went two-for-four at the plate for the Reds with an RBI and a run scored, while Eamonn Cary went two-for-three, scored a run and knocked in one other.

All players, parents, coaches and other volunteers are encouraged to attend the all-league awards picnic on Saturday, July 23, immediately following the Minor League Post-season Championship game that starts at 6 p.m. at Gaunt Park. Please bring a covered dish to share and help us celebrate and recognize player accomplishments of the 2016 baseball season.