The last time the Applegate Paperclips won a world championship, Bill Clinton was president, Macarena was the top song of the year, and Phil Roselli had hair.
But now, the Clips own a second world championship, having upset the Chatfield Choo Choos in five games for the 2012 title.
In our first season of expansion to 15 teams, Chatfield and Applegate each captured divisional crowns and earned a bye into the semifinals, but Chatfield went into the finals as a heavy favorite, having smacked the Paperclips around in 9 of their 10 regular-season games on its way to a spectacular 121-win season.
But after splitting the first two games in Chatfield, Applegate reeled off three consecutive victories at home to capture the crown. A staunch bullpen, in which six of their seven relievers posted 0.00 ERAs, and a 13-7 advantage in homers made the difference for Applegate. Sergio Santos, a middle reliever, allowed just 3 hits in 8 1/3 innings of work while striking out 12 to collect series MVP honors.
“Everything just came together,” said Paperclips manager Gary Kicinski. “Chatfield had a better team, but we managed to hit our split rolls when home run chances came up, and we were able to dent their dynamic bullpen. And on the other side, our bullpen was phenomenal. With every game a nail-biter, the bullpen performance proved to be key.”
Applegate advanced to the finals by defeating longtime rival Bismarck in five games, while Chatfield took six games to eliminate Margaritaville.
Bismarck had surprised Springfield in six games in a first-round series, while Margaritaville had turned back Savannah in five games in its first-round series.