7/8 7/12 7/13 7/13 7/13 7/13 7/13 7/27 7/27 7/27 7/27 7/27 8/2 8/3 8/3 8/9 8/9 8/16 8/23
FS 3|3 FS 0|0 HB 0|2 BW 0|4 EL 1|1 ON 0|0 IS 0|13 EL 1|1 IS 0|0 WW 0|0 ON 3|0 KF 6|3 KF 0|1|0 FS 0 BW 1|2 EL 1|2 R★ 2 BW 0 The
WW 0|0 WA 1|1 KF 1|3 KF 1|10 HB 0|0 WA 3|3 WO 11|8 WA 0|2 WA 3|3 ON 3|3 WW 1|1 WO 0|0 EL 4|0|1 BW 2 WA 0|1 BW 0|0 G★ 0 EL 2 Thrill

Playoffs: 1st Round

1 vs. 8
Sunday    August 5th    3 PM    Knockout Park    Manchester, MI
3 Game 1 0
  Commandos forfeit  
3 Game 2 0
  Commandos forfeit  
Game 3 (if necessary)
 Hatt  (10-1) Probable Starters (0-4)  Grant 

The Punchouts ride a 25 game win-streak into the playoffs, and with the elite level of play both hitting and pitching most people do not see that streak ending anytime soon. Bortmas and LaDoucueur are beasts in the batters box: both slugging over .800 with 20 HR a piece and 119 RBI between them. Hatt and Bortmas have similarly been monsters on the mound: 138 and 136 K, 0.95 and 0.94 ERA, and 0.27 and 0.70 ERA, respectively. It has been a hot-and-cold season for the Commandos, tapping into talent of players only to have them unavailable a few weeks later. It is hard to find consistency like that, but Linebrink has been their most reliable player - hitting .260 and slugging .427 with 5 HR. He has also had moments of greatness on the mound. For the Commandos to pull off this upset it will take a few more of those moments of greatness strung together as a team.

2 vs. 7
Sunday    August 5th    5 PM    The Swamp    Trenton, MI
6 Game 1 2
 WP: Pearson  (1-0) LP: Seto (0-1) 
1 Game 2 2
 LP: D. Braden  (0-1) Probable Starters WP: Murtha (1-0) 
2 Game 3 (if necessary) 1
 WP: Pearson  (2-0) Probable Starters LP: Seto (0-2) 

The Ducks seem to have returned to their 2011 champion form, charging hard over the final weeks of the season (going 8-4) to take the Garcia Division title with a 17-11 record. They are still laughing, but the D & D boys are crushing the ball at the plate and delivering on the mound like was expected from them all season. Nagorski and Nick Braden are also supplying good at bats. So long as their defense holds up, they are poised to do well this postseason. The Donkeys come into the playoffs in exact opposite fashion; they have lost the last eight times they took the field and finished the season last in Ringler at 11-17. The Donkeys are also without star player Alex Shore, who had season ending surgery earlier this month. They will rely on aggressive baserunning, and the arms of Seto, Shaw, and Murtha to dig out wins in this series. The Ducks won the season series decisively 2-0.

3 vs. 6
Sunday    August 5th    4:30 PM    Poolside Park    Ottawa Lake, MI
4 Game 1 0
 WP: A. Bischoff  (1-0) Probable Starters LP: Hewlett (0-1) 
2 Game 2 1
 WP: E. Bischoff  (1-0) Probable Starters LP: Cosby (0-1) 
Game 3 (if necessary)
 Hughes  (3-1) Probable Starters (6-6)  Paquin 

The Aces went 4-0 against the Seals this season, but they did so with three 1-0 games and a single 2-1 game. This series should be tightly contested and Poolside Park is the perfect place to play a series where one lucky bounce or good swing can decide the game. The Seals concluded their season with an 18 and 23 inning game, and more long games may well be coming this first round match-up. They did lose two pitchers for game one due to those long games, but Hewlett, the longest tenured Seal, will get the ball in game one and has proven he can go toe-to-toe with pitchers like the Bischoffs. The Aces have lived up to their name throwing 3 perfect games, allowing only 32 runs and 63 hits over 28 games, and striking out 365 (the league high). The prevailing assumption is this series will be won on either a ballsy attempt to go from second to home on a little dribbler, or the first home run of the year to be hit into the pool.

4 vs. 5
Thursday    August 2nd    6 PM    The Drey    Romulus, MI
0 Game 1 1
 LP:  Consanti  (0-1) WP:  Corbett (1-0) 
0 Game 2 1
 LP:  Skinner  (0-1) WP:  Castle (1-0) 
Game 3 (if necessary)
 Consanti  (7-2) Probable Starters (3-4)  Phillips 

A rematch of last year's 4 vs. 5. Belgian took this season's series 3-1. In the most shocking development leading up to this series, Coffee and Buhr inked a deal sending pitcher Craig Skinner to the Squirrels for pitcher Brandon Corbett. The two have similar stats with batting averages near .200 and ERAs below 1.00. Skinner brings more strike outs on the mound, though, while Corbett supplies more extra base power at the plate. The Constanti/Skinner rotation will be very formidable for a Squirrels team that has always been built around pitching; the key to success for them will be giving them run support. Belgian already had two hitters with good power; Phillips and Tomlinson both have six HR and Corbett adds another five, putting together a dangerous lineup to support a strong pitching staff.

Unavailable Pitchers:
  1 Game:   Castle (BW), Linebrink (CC), Shaw (DK), Bullard (FS), Cosby (JM), Bortmas (MP), D. Braden (TD), E. Bischoff (WA)
  2 Games: Phillips (BW), Paquin (JM)

Week 14

 < Week 13

The Wiffle Iron The Swamp Knockout Park Southgate Anderson The Drey The Club The Zoo
7/25 7/25 7/27 7/27 7/27 7/28 7/28 7/28 7/29 7/29
WA 1|0 WA 6|3 KF 0|0 SM 0|0 BW 7|14 TD 7|0 TD 3|7 SM 0|10 BW 0|0 KF 0|0
BW 0|2 TD 7|0 MP 5|5 MP 6|7 SM 0|0 FS 2|1 KF 2|0 FS 4|2 JM 1|1 DK 3|3

To Be Scheduled...
The Zoo Lafayette Park
7/29 7/29 7/27 7/29 7/29
MP 3|3 MP 10|13 BW 2|3 TD 19|5 SM 3|0
DK 0|0 SM 0|0 DK 0|0 CC 4|6 CC 0|3

All hands on deck! It took fourteen weeks, a full season, but we find ourselves in a week with every team playing games for the first time! To celebrate let us do this a little differently this week. We will start it out with a few brief thoughts on some of the series, but then it is up to you to take it from there. We will open up the comments here The comments have not turned back on for some blogger reason, but facebook is there as always, and we want YOU to tell the Wiffle world what you think the most important / exciting / interesting series is this week. After all, you must be tired of us, and we do not hear nearly enough from you. ;)

Well, Wednesday features two series and is going to set the tone and start shaping things up right off the bat. The Wicked Aces (19-5, #19) travel up to face the Belgian Wiffles (10-10) and Thunder Ducks (12-8). The Aces have a 2-0 lead in their season series with Belgian, and are split 1-1 with the Ducks; the scores in both games of each series were 1-0 and 2-1, so you know these will be hard-fought wins. Which is the better Marquee series? Also, a tough fight; both can strategically affect playoff seeding.

Ducks vs. Aces -   This earned the Week 13 Marquee, and much of what was said their still stands. The Aces are essentially on a collision course with number three spot in the playoffs [see the Playoff Watch]. The split over the weekend, however, boosted the Ducks up into the number-two seed as Garcia Champion. If they can split this series again on Wednesday, then they will just about clinch that slot.

Belgian vs. Aces -   Two excellent young pitching rotations. The Aces have three guys with perfect games, and can run out four good arms against you. Skinner and Phillips are an outstanding one-two punch for Belgian, as well, with Skinner also having tossed a perfecto this season. The Wiffle Iron should make for a good showcase of this pitching talent as it is a good test for blue-chip pitchers with its short dimensions, but the Aces are used to that atmosphere already calling Poolside Park home.

Squirrels vs. Ducks -   It may not seem to bring as much excitement around the talent as the above two series do, however, it does feature both All-Star pitchers from Garcia, and (depending on the results from Ducks vs. Aces) can be played to decide the Garcia Division crown! The Squirrels have sucked lately. If they want to have any shot this postseason, they need to get back to early season form. A split in this series keeps their chances alive, but leaves it in the Ducks' hands webbed feet. A sweep by either team puts them in command with the head-to-head tie-breaker. The Ducks have woken up, though, and are seemingly charging in similar fashion to their run last post-season. Look out!

Punchouts vs. the field -   Vegas has the Manchester Punchouts never losing again. It is hard to bet against that, at least for the remainder of the 2012 regular season. Manchester has absolutely pummeled every team put in front of them since Week 4 (including the Ducks, Aces, and Belgian): a 17-game winning streak, while outscoring opponents 116-7. While they may run over the competition in this final week, it could still be compelling sport just to watch them finish the season with a ridiculous twenty-five straight wins, fireballs shooting out of their eyes, and bolts of lightning from their asses.

Unavailable Pitchers:
  1 Game:   Phillips (BW), Linebrink (CC), Shaw (DK), Corbett (FS), Constanti (FS), Paquin (JM), Birotte (KF), Bortmas (MP), D. Braden (TD), Pearson (TD), Nagorski (TD), Hughes (WA) E. Bischoff (WA), Cafe (SM)
  2 Games:  N/A

* Team not active this week. Will carry over to next games.

Week 13

 < Week 11 Week 14 > 

The Zoo The Club Lafayette Park Poolside Park
7/21 7/22 7/22 7/22 7/22 7/22
TD 11|4 MP 7|14 MP 13|17 FS 0|0 SM 1 TD 1|1
DK 4|2 JM 2|4 CC 1|0 WA 1|1 WA 7 WA 2|0

One of the most anticipated rivalry series heading into the season, two of the hardest throwing pitchers in WSEM, and you get the full season series in the final two weeks of the season. How is that for coming down the home stretch? True, neither team is soaring atop their division standings at the moment as predicted, however that does not take away from the potential of what this match-up can be.

After all, the Thunder Ducks (9-7) are still a team that can turn up their intensity and focus when faced with a challenge or when people doubt their ability to perform. The expected 6-6 record attached to the Ducks in last week's playoff watch has lit a fire under at least one seat on the team's bench. Nick Braden scoffed at the .500 prediction and proclaimed the Ducks will easily finish their season 8-4, possibly even rolling into the playoffs with a 10-2 run. If the rest of the team feeds off that drive to prove others wrong and they regain competitive focus, then they are very capable of playing at that level. They have the talent on their roster to charge through a long stretch of games; just look at the 2012 playoffs.

Sure, a lot of that run was on Dennis Pearson's shoulders, and the 2011 Clown Shu winner has seemingly come back to Earth this season (1.54 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 71 K, 29 BB, 26 IP). However, during that playoff run at the plate Dennis was joined by Josh Nagorski with 14 H, Dylan Braden with 9 BB and 8 RBI, and Nick Braden with 3 of his 8 hits for extra bases. When the Ducks roll they do so as a team (and when the roosters are crowing and the cows are spinning circles in the pasture...DUCKS FLY TOGETHER!). This season the team's numbers are down (.193 AVG, 41 R, 14 HR, .378 SLG, .312 OBP). Dylan Braden has been the best performer with 6 HR, 13 RBI, and a .333 OBP, but late in the season is a prime time to get it back in gear. And Whiteford, the team everyone has been saying is better than the Ducks for 9 months) is a choice opponent to spark that comeback.

Whiteford on the other hand has been rolling all season. They jumped out to the top of the league on day one with two perfect games, stayed up there until Week 11, and added a third perfect game. Their success was due largely to proving that their pitching staff is much deeper than Austin Bishcoff. Austin is clearly the ace of the Aces (0.43 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 127 K, and 26 BB), but his teammates are not far behind him: Justin Hughes - 0.62 ERA, 1.12 WHIP 37 K, 10 BB; Joel Crozier - 1.73 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 77 K, 31 BB; and Evan Bischoff in a limited role (8.0 IP) has yet to surrender a run, given up 1 H and 8 BB while striking out 19. None of these tossers have a K/BB ratio under 2.48. That is a stout staff!

The Aces are no slouch at the plate either. They are still atop the league in team AVG (.257), although the Punchouts have taken command in extra base power. Hughes is an excellent set up man (.347 AVG, .396 OBP, .510 SLG, 9 RBI, 9 R); he has been in the top five for average all season, and deserves to be in rookie of the year talk. Crozier and Austin are getting it done, as well: AVG - .283, .272; OBP - .402, .382; SLG - .402, .467 respectively. Austin has been the biggest power threat with 5 HR, some massive shots, and 16 RBI. They have put together this possible 20 win season using nine part-time players, who have played four games or less, which is itself an impressive and telling stat about how their core players play this game.

Vegas odds are in Whiteford's favor for the consistent body of work they have put together this season. However, the potential within the Ducks' to put together a clinical upset could make for a big payday. There is also a wild card at play. Both Austin and Dennis played in the NWLA Tournament in Columbus this past weekend, and riding that high - couple with coming back from that to a 5-2 count and a mound 3 feet closer - could make both pitchers more dominant than ever! This series is bound to be everything that has been anticipated since the offseason.

Elsewhere in WSEM:   The Manchester Punchouts look to continue their thirteen game win streak and scoreless innings streak against the Commandos and Mattseals on Sunday. The Flying Squirrels and Wicked Aces will also face off alongside the Ducks/Aces series on Sunday in Whiteford.

Unavailable Pitchers:
  1 Game:   Phillips (BW)*, Linebrink (CC), Seto (DK), Corbett (FS), Paquin (JM), Birotte (KF), Bortmas (MP), N. Braden (TD), Crozier (WA), A. Crabtree (SM)
  2 Games:  N/A

* Team not active this week. Will carry over to next games.

Week 11

 < Week 10 Week 13 > 

Poolside Park The Zoo The Swamp The Club The Wiffle Iron The Swamp Poolside Park
7/4 7/6 7/7 7/8 7/8 7/8 7/8 7/8
BW 1|0 CC 0|1 MP 4|10 DK 0|1 DK 0|0 MP 1|6 CC 1|1 MP 3|9
WA 2|1 DK 4|2 TD 0|0 JM 9|2 BW 1|1 BW 0|0 TD 3|4 WA 0|0

When these teams first met under the lights in Manchester the Punchouts dealt a decisive blow to the Wiffles. Belgian managed one hit over the two games and was outscored 5-0. Perhaps, fittingly then, these teams are two games apart for second place in the Ringler Division and separated by a run differential of just six, as well. At the core of both of these teams is the same thing: talented pitchers.

Evan Bortmas and Sam Hatt, of the Punchouts, have both been chosen to represent WSEM at the NWLA tournament later this month, precisely because of their pitching talent. They work in opposite ways. Evan's signature pitch comes from over the top, an absolutely wicked "slurve", while Sam's signature is to freeze batters with a tailing riser. Sure, that is limiting their abilities to just their best pitches, but "why pay for the cow...", right?" So far this season their rotation has given up only four runs. Bortmas has a 1.15 ERA, 1.54 WHIP and 31 K. Hatt is delivering a 0.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 51 K.

On Belgian's side, Craig SEYMOUR! Skinner has proven himself to be a stud starter, giving up just two runs in 27 IP. He has a 0.22 ERA, 0.52 WHIP, 58 K, and also already has one perfect game under his belt against the Garcia leading Squirrels. Chandler Bing Phillips and David "Castlehoff" Castle are also excelling in their rookie seasons with the plastic ball. Phillips is sporting an impressive 0.62 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 44 K in 16 IP, while Castle is filling the "number-three" starter role better than many teams' number-one with both an ERA and WHIP of 2.03 and 21 K.

Offensively, these two teams are pulling close to a draw. Belgian has the edge in team AVG by nine points, .238 to .229, while the Punchouts pull ahead in both OBP and SLG: .403 to .384, and .385 to .371, respectively. As a logical jump from those numbers the Punchouts have the advantage in home runs, by a margin of 8 to 5. Similarly, they hold a decisive advantage in total bases in fewer games played: 74 to 53. Do not take the numbers as absolutes, though, both of these teams can hit, and both of these teams can pitch. Given the right conditions, and the right whim of luck, either of these teams can dominate a game.

While many games are still to be played in this waning season, these games will stand as shot across the bow for seeding and standing in Ringler. Belgian would love to sweep this series and gain an even split on the season, while taking just one game and winning the season series will be advantageous for Manchester. There is no doubt Belgian will show better on their home field than they did when traveling out to Manchester. On the other side of the coin, Manchester wants to prove they are a great team no matter where they are playing, so expect them to come out blazing on the road.

Elsewhere in WSEM:   Belgian and Manchester believe the best things come in threes, as both have two more series on the Week 11 schedule: Donkeys and Wicked Aces for Belgian; Ducks and Wicked Aces for Manchester. This week should really begin to shape the playoff picture. The Donkeys (7-7) look to put a stamp on this season with six games this week: two at home versus the Commandos (5-13), and four on the road against the Mattseals (8-14) and Belgian. So far in 2012, they are 2-0 against the Commandos and 2-0 against the Seals. Both teams have come a long way since those early meetings, though, and Belgian is a team in direct contention for a playoff seed. The Wicked Aces (13-2) and Punchouts will also throw their last punches for the top of Ringler as they meet in the finale of their season series on Sunday. They split in their first meeting, with an extra inning special; what will Poolside Park have in store? In addition to the Donkeys, the Commandos will also test out their new roster against division rivals, the Thunder Ducks (7-5), and ace pitcher Dennis Pearson. Grant seems confident with his new metal, and this will be a good test for how far he can ride his new acquisitions.

Unavailable Pitchers:
  1 Game:   Skinner (BW), Mott (CC), Malloy (DK), Corbett (FS)*, Paquin (JM), Birotte (KF)*, Bortmas (MP), N. Braden (TD), Crozier (WA), A. Crabtree (SM)
  2 Games:  N/A

* Team not active this week. Will carry over to next games.