LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Week one of the Premier League Wiffle® spring season is in the books, and the opening week of games did not disappoint. Some teams had to shake off the rust in their first series, while others hit the ground running. The stage is set for the most competitive PLW season yet, and every team likes their chances at this point in the young season. Here’s a rundown of everything you may have missed in week one:
The Ones Take 2 of 3 vs. Bombers
In the first game of the series, the Bombers pitching tandem of Alex and Max Fernandez were able to shut out The Ones, allowing just three hits over six innings. In the fourth inning, Mateo Fernandez hit a two-run homer off summer season Cy Young winner Ryan Chen, and that’s all they would need, as they went on to win game one 2-0. In game two, Max Fernandez opened the scoring with a two-run shot of his own in the top of the first, but The Ones offense would come alive, with Austin “Bird” Bull and Cody Schmidt each hitting three-run homers, and Chen would tack on two more with a home run in the bottom of the fifth, as The Ones cruised to an 8-2 victory in the second game.
The rubber match did not disappoint. Chen hit another two-run shot in the bottom of the first, but Alain “Big Al” Fernandez responded with a solo shot off Schmidt in the top of the second. The Ones would answer with a solo homer of their own off the bat of Adam Koutz in the bottom of the fourth, and Trevor Bauer would hit another bases empty big fly in the top of the sixth, but The Ones would hold on to win 3-2, taking the series. Incredibly, all 17 runs scored in this series were driven in via home runs.
Sandvipers Win 2 of 3 vs. Vaderz
The always patient Sandvipers lineup was able to walk out fall season Rookie of the Year Tanner Roundy in the second inning of game one, and they put up three runs against Vaderz rookie Scott Burley to take a 4-0 lead after three.
Tom Gannon threw a complete game for the vipers, allowing just two hits, but one of them was a home run off the bat of Ethan Ibarra in the bottom of the sixth to prevent the shutout, and the vipers took game one 4-1. Game two was an absolute pitcher’s duel between Sandvipers manager Adam Tanic, and Vaderz starter Billy Santiwan. Neither pitcher allowed an earned run, and Santiwan allowed just two hits, throwing a complete game shutout against the defending champs.
The Vaderz would walk it off in the bottom of the sixth on a rare error from gold glover Trench Picone to set the stage for a rubber match. Picone would take the ball in game three, and Nate Stepna would toe the rubber for the Vaderz. Stepna would walk out before recording an out, and the vipers pushed a pair of runs across in the first inning.
Picone shut down the Vaderz for the first two innings, but they were able to manufacture a run in the third, and Ibarra hit his second home run of the series to tie the game in the fourth. Picone would answer with a two run shot in the top of the fifth, and the Sandvipers would take the series with the 4-2 win.
Night Owls Sweep Legends
The Night Owls were without their two out of town stars, Randy Dalbey & James Stein, on opening night, but they did have Brandon Maio. Maio threw a complete game shutout to start the season, stifling the always dangerous Legends lineup for six innings.
Barry Hutter hit a solo shot in the second inning to put the owls on top, and that’s all they would need, but rookie Kyle Baker hit an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth to tack on an insurance run.
In game two, the Night Owls went to PLW rookie, and eight year MLB veteran Josh Towers, while the Legends gave the ball to Jason Stephenson. The Night Owls only recorded three hits off Stephenson, but two of them were RBI singles from Hutter & Matty Levine, so Stephenson was handed the tough luck loss despite a complete game effort, striking out nine. Towers struck out ten in his PLW debut, pitching around five hits, but allowing just one run in the top of the sixth, as the owls held on to win 2-1.
There was a lot more offense in the third game of the series, as the two teams combined for 20 hits, seven of which went for extra bases. The Night Owls took a 5-0 lead after three innings, and starter Jason Walker would go five innings, striking out seven, but the Legends chipped away in the second half of the game, bringing the score to 6-4 in the final frame, but Towers would get the two out save to complete the sweep.
Warbirds Win 2 of 3 vs. Snappers
The Warbirds were knocked out of the playoffs by the Snappers last season, and they would get their chance at revenge week one.
The birds jumped out to a 2-0 lead in game one thanks to a two-run homer from Shawn Mersiel, and Jim Dodos danced around nine hits, allowing just two runs in a complete game effort. The Warbirds put up three more runs in the top of the sixth to give Dodos some room to breathe, and he would use that insurance, allowing a run in the bottom of the sixth, as they held on to win 5-2.
The Snappers bounced back in game two, scoring eight runs off the Warbirds pitching tandem of Dan Pickering and Peter Mocabee, including home runs from Shane Weber and Brandon Gregg. Dodos hit his first homer of the season on the Warbirds side, but they fell 8-3 in the second game. In the third game the Warbirds jumped all over reigning Cy Young and MVP Taylor Bryner, scoring five runs on six hits, and walking him out in the top of the first inning.
Weber was able to come in and put out the fire, but the birds already had all they would need. Buck Burner also walked out in the first inning, but Matt Petrikas came in, holding the Snappers to just two hits, one of which was a home run from Weber, and the Warbirds would go on to get the 7-1 win.
Cajuns Take 2 of 3 Over Lightning
The first game of the series was a pitcher’s duel between Jayk Purdy of the Lightning & Ryan Reusch of the Cajuns. Both would throw a complete game, allow less than five hits, a single earned run, and strike out ten batters.
It was an unearned run that would lead to Reusch’s downfall, as well as a solo shot off the bat of Bruce Huson that just barely stayed inside the right field foul pole in the top of the sixth to give the Lightning the 2-1 win. Game two was another battle, with rookie Keifer McLendon getting the start for the Cajuns, and manager Chad Phillips taking the ball for the Lightning.
The Cajuns scored a pair of runs in the first inning to chase Phillips from the game, but in the top of the third Purdy hit a solo homer, and Huson hit an RBI double to tie the game. Cajuns manager Andrew Ledet took the ball, and shut the Lightning down after that, and fellow lefty Kyle Loman held the Cajuns scoreless for 4 ⅔, but the Cajuns would win the game 3-2 on the second walk-off error of the week.
Game three featured yet another pitcher’s duel, with the combined efforts of Devlin Daniel, Phillips, and Loman on the Lightning side. The Cajuns leaned heavily on Sashi Bobba, who allowed just three hits over the first five innings. McLendon hit a two-run double in the bottom of the fourth, which turned out to be the only run-scoring play of the game. Ledet came in to close it out in the sixth, but walked out of the game, so Ruesch was able to record the one out save.
Tune in to Premier League Wiffle® LIVE on Twitch Monday through Friday at 6pm PST!