Displaying a finishing kick that would make Usain Bolt proud, the Superior Titans and Manager Mike Renbarger completed their late-summer and autumn dominance of the league with their franchise record-tying sixth world championship, fending off the Springfield Isotopes in six games to walk off with top honors as we concluded the 37th season of play in the I-75 league.
Walk off they did, as catcher A.J. Ellis broke a 2-2 tie with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Springfield ace Clayton Kershaw by nailing a ballpark homer chance on just 1-4 odds, shooting a 2.
The victory gave Superior its third straight win in the series, as it had to battle back from a 2-1 deficit, much as it had to shake some early-season doldrums when it failed to deliver on some pretty high preseason expectations. Despite a superstar-laden lineup that included reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper, plus Miguel Cabrera and Anthony Rizzo, Superior was plodding along with a good-but-not-great 56 wins after 100 games, which at the time landed the Titans in the middle of the competitive Westbound Division, five games off the pace set by John Renbarger’s Boulder Tree Huggers.
Then the Titans caught fire, reeling off 17 wins in August and 14 in September to climb into a first-place tie, and end up winning the division by a seven-game margin following a 14-win October. Superior’s 101 regular-season wins earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
A six-game victory over those Tree Huggers in the semifinals lifted Superior into the finals against Dave LaMont’s Isotopes, who were vying for their first World Championship in their 19th year in the league. Continue reading