Saturday night’s showdown between two of the top teams in the Premier League Wiffle was a matchup fans had been waiting the whole season for. The first place Ones took on last season’s regular season champion the Sandvipers in a 3 game set in primetime. The Sandvipers swept the series season vs The Ones last year going 6-0 against them. The Ones had to have a good feeling about flipping the script on the Sandvipers having started the season 18-3, sitting in first place with the top two pitchers in ERA and a pile of studs in the lineup. But would the Sandvipers have anything to say about it and continue their dominance of The Ones? Let’s get into the action.
Andrew Ledet started Game 1 of the series for The Ones and promptly walked Adam Tanic to lead off the game. Tanic has proven to have the best eye in the league and just does not swing at bad pitches. It wasn’t the start Ledet was looking for. He appeared to settle in as he struck out Nick Hamelin next but then walked Tom Gannon and it was a quick outing for Ledet after those two walks in the first. Rookie Justin Spurrier came in to try to eat up some innings and limit the damage. Spurrier handled Casey Herzog easily but a bloop opposite field single from Buck Burner pushed the first run of the game across. That brought Tanic backup with two on and two out but he grounded out to Adam Koutz and Spurrier successfully limited the damage to only one run. Tanic took the ball to start the game for the Sandvipers and was looking to have a good outing after being unable to pitch in their last series due to a minor injury. Tanic got Scottez Dobbins and Ryan Chen to pop up for the first two outs. Adam Koutz, hitting from the left side vs the righty Tanic, hit a tricky popup to shallow left that dropped in for a hit. Justin Spurrier came up next and popped up to short and it was 1-0 Sandvipers after 1. Spurrier clearly settled down well on the mound as he got a 1-2-3 2nd inning as did Tanic in the bottom. Burner walked to lead off the 3rd and that brought up Tanic with a chance to drive Spurrier out of the game with a walk as well. Patient as always he forced Spurrier to throw strikes and he couldn’t do it. Two on, nobody out as Adam Koutz took the hill. Koutz struck out Hamelin but Tom Gannon came up next and hit a spinning ground ball to first that couldn’t be handled by Ryan Chen and the bases were loaded for Herzog who struck out on two pitches and left it up to the rookie Burner to try to do some damage. Koutz looked to have the upper hand getting ahead in the count 1-2 but Burner battled for a few pitches and finally got the one he wanted and smoked a 3-2 pitch off the container for a bases clearing triple barely missing a grand slam. 4-0 Sandvipers going to the bottom of the 3rd. Tanic continued pitching well, giving up a 2 out double to Adrian Gutierrez but left him stranded on 2nd after getting Dobbins to ground out to end the inning. Nick Hamelin made his presence known leading off the top of the 4th when he crushed an opposite field home run for his 2nd career PLW blast in his first 4 games. The next three batters went down in order and it was 5-0 heading to the bottom of the 4th. A quiet bottom half for The Ones again as Tanic continued to cruise and we moved to the 5th. Tanic walked again to lead off the inning but was stranded there and he took a 5-0 lead to the mound looking to finish this one off. Hamelin knocked down a sharp line drive off the bat of Dobbins and Tanic picked it up to throw him out for the first out. Chen and Koutz both managed to walk which forced Trench Picone to come in to try to end it. Spurrier worked a full count but flew out to Gannon in left and Gutierrez grounded out to 3rd and the Sandvipers improved to 9-4 on the season and 7-0 against The Ones lifetime.
Ryan Chen took the mound for The Ones to start game 2 of the series looking to put his team on his back. Unsurprisingly, Tanic worked a walk to start the game and put some pressure on The Ones right out of the gate. Hamelin followed suit and walked as well and Chen was out of the game after two batters forcing Justin Spurrier in. Gannon popped out in foul territory and Herzog walked and the bases were loaded for Buck Burner. With a 3-RBI triple in game 1, Burner was looking for the same but this time would settle for a hard hit single off of Koutz at short and knocked in a run and brought up Tanic with them loaded with one out. Tanic took a hack at the first pitch and hit a high fly ball that Dobbins ranged over from left center and tracked it down. Hamelin had his shot now to drive in some runs but stared at strike 3 from Spurrier and the damage was minimal and it was 1-0 going to the bottom of the first. Tom Gannon took the ball for the Sandvipers in game 2 looking to follow up Tanic’s game 1 performance with a beauty of his own. Dobbins popped up, but then Chen ripped a hard single to left followed by Koutz with a single to right and it was runners on the corners with 1 out. Gannon got Ledet looking and that brought up Cody Schmidt for his first AB in nearly a month. The rust showed as he went down swinging and it was 1-0 Sandvipers after one. Gannon started the 2nd with a shot that looked like it was leaving the ballpark but was knocked down in right field before going out holding him to a long single. Herzog poked a single the opposite way and the Sandvipers were threatening with 1st and 3rd and nobody out. Spurred walked Burner and that brought up the dangerous Adam Tanic with bases juiced and nobody out and forced Adam Koutz in to face him. Tanic smacked a ground ball up the middle and plated two to push the lead to 3-0. Hamelin grounded to first and The Ones turned a much needed double play but that allowed the runner from 3rd to score and made it 4-0 Sandvipers heading to the bottom of the 2nd. Gannon got the first two batters but then Adam Koutz crushed a ball to deep center to put The Ones on the board for the night. 4-1 Sandvipers after 2. Burner crushed a ball down the left field line with one out that looked gone but just creeped to the left of the foul pole and then struck out looking for out number two. Koutz got Tanic waving at a pitch outside and got the 1-2-3 inning his team badly needed. Gannon managed to do the same in the bottom half and it was still 4-1 after 3. Hamelin led off the 4th hitting a deep fly ball to left center but was tracked down by Justin Spurrier. Gannon went down swinging and Herzog hit a weak grounder to the mound and The Ones we’re looking to get back in this game. Gannon continued his dominance though, and got Ledet to pop up, and got both Spurrier and Gutierrez swinging to breeze through the 4th. Burner continued to hit the ball hard and led off the 4th by narrowly missing a home run and hitting a line drive triple off of the container. Tanic nearly drove them both in but his deep fly ball to center got hung up just a bit and was caught. Hamelin grounded out to the pitcher and Gannon walked, forcing Koutz out and that brought in Cody Schmidt to mop up. Herzog took the first pitch he saw from Schmidt and hit a hard line drive to left and made it 5-1. Burner hit yet another ball hard and found a single up the middle and made it 6-1. Tanic up with two on and two out looked to put the game out of reach but he saw nothing to hit and gave Hamelin a shot with them loaded. A nasty 2-2, 55mph pitch from Schmidt caused Hamelin to stare at strike 3 and The Ones now needed 5 in the 5th to tie it. Chen looked to fire up The Ones leading off the 5th with a hard double to left and a tough play up the middle off the bat of Koutz gave the runners on the corners with nobody out. Gannon bared down though and got Ledet swinging and Spurrier to pop out to shallow center. But Gutierrez poked a single up the middle and pushed their second run across and it was 6-2 with first and third and two outs for Ryan Chen. Manager Adam Tanic brought in Trench Picone to deal with Chen. After falling behind 0-2, he worked a walk and that brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Adam Koutz. Koutz took a hack at a breaking ball up and away but bounced it to short for the final out and the Sandvipers took game two 6-2 and improved to 8-0 lifetime vs The Ones.
Cody Schmidt took the hill in game 3 for The Ones, making his first start in 4 weeks, and looked to right the ship. Tanic greeted him nicely by hitting a tough ground ball to the left side that got by Adam Koutz at shortstop. Hamelin introduced himself as well, firing a line drive to the right side of second and moved Tanic over to 3rd for Gannon with nobody out. A ground ball to Koutz allowed him to take the double play himself and get two outs but not before allowing the runner from 3rd to score. Herzog roped a double to left on the first pitch and Alonzo Valencia struck out looking and the Sandvipers jumped out ahead again and it was 1-0 going to the bottom of the 1st. Trench Picone got the start for the Sandvipers looking to finish off the sweep for the night. Justin Spurrier led off the first with a fly ball to left and a diving effort from Gannon came up short and they had their leadoff man on. Ryan Chen hit a hard fly ball to left but this time Gannon got under it to secure the out. Koutz ripped a single on the first pitch he saw and The Ones had a real threat early in this one. Gutierrez up next and he popped out to short. Two on and two out for Spencer Barrack and he drove the first pitch he saw up the middle for a two out, bases clearing double and gave The Ones their first lead of the night, 2-1. Quick hook for Picone and Gannon took over. One pitch to Justin Spurrier as he hit a base hit up the middle and it was 3-1. Chen popped out on the first pitch and The Ones took a 3-1 lead into the 2nd. Tanic hit a ball hard up the middle and off the pitcher’s bucket sending it to the left field corner netting him a double. Nick Hamelin up next and he hit a hard ground ball that hit the bucket again! Now runners at the corners for Gannon who hit the first pitch to center that just went off the hands of Spurrier and it was 3-2 with two on and nobody out. A very unlucky sequence for Schmidt for sure. Herzog drove a pitch deep to straight center but it just didn’t have enough and was caught. Valencia grounded out and Tanic had a chance to drive some runs in with two outs. He rapped a base hit up the middle and The Ones lead didn’t last long as it was 3-3 now. Hamelin went down swinging, stranding two runners but the Sandvipers let The Ones know that they’re still hungry. Barrack led off with a double right down the right field line and The Ones were looking to take their lead back. First pitch double from Spurrier to center and it was 4-3 two pitches into the bottom of the 2nd. Chen with a deep drive to left center that looks like it’s gone but Tanic leaps and knocks it down! He comes up holding his elbow but looks okay and stays in the game and it’s 5-3 now. Koutz goes down swinging for the first out and Gutierrez grounds out back to the mound. Barrack goes down swinging too and it’s 5-3 The Ones after 2. But hold the phone. There’s some commotion over by the scorer’s desk and appears to be some kind of confusion. The Ones batted out of order! Spencer Barrack wasn’t supposed to lead off the inning. He was ruled as an out and the run he scored was taken off the board and the score became 4-3. Tom Gannon takes the first pitch he sees and hits a deep fly ball to left but it’s caught near the wall. Herzog keeps up his strong night by smacking a triple of the container. A first pitch groundout back to the pitcher by Valencia brings Tanic up with a runner on 3rd and two outs. Full count to Tanic and he swings and misses and The Ones cling to their one run lead. Leadoff walk by Spurrier and Chen flies out to left. Koutz pops out to Herzog in shallow left and a walk by Gutierrez forces Gannon out of the game. Tanic comes in and gets Barrack to line out to shortstop to end the threat. Hamelin works a leadoff walk and Gannon grounds into a fielder’s choice. Herzog does down swinging and Valencia gets caught looking and The Ones hold their 4-3 lead to the bottom of the 4th. Tanic gets Spurrier dancing out of the way on a 3-2 breaking ball but it finds the zone for strike 3. Chen hits a rocket to short but Hamelin makes a diving stop, flips it to Tanic who throws to the backstop to get the out. What a play! Koutz grounds out to Valencia and the Sandvipers are down to their final 3 outs to tie this game up. Tanic hits a fly ball to start the inning but it’s tracked down by Spurrier. Schmidt finds the outside corner to get Hamelin looking and Tom Gannon is the last hope of the night for the Sandvipers. He hits a fly ball to the right centerfield gap that is run down and The Ones take game 3.
The Sandvipers continued their winning ways over The Ones taking two out of 3 games. The Ones showed heart in all 3 contests though, and found a win in game 3. These teams will play 3 more in the regular season in primetime again on Saturday, July 17th and fully expect nothing but high quality ball out of both sides. Both The Ones and the Sandvipers are playoff bound for sure and I think fans are certainly rooting to see these two squads battle it out when the stakes are even higher.