Superior caps spectacular surge with record-tying sixth world championship!

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.

A 3-9 ballpark HR roll off Clayton Kershaw, featuring a '2' roll on 1-4 chances, provided the walkoff winning margin.

A 3-9 ballpark HR roll off Clayton Kershaw, featuring a ‘2’ roll on 1-4 chances, provided the walkoff winning margin.

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

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Never happened in MLB, but it’s happened in Strat: 5 HRs by…

Giancarlo Stanton slugged a record 5 homers in a 23-4 win. (Photo by Corn Farmer/Flickr)

Giancarlo Stanton slugged a record 5 homers in a 23-4 win. (Photo by Corn Farmer/Flickr)

It’s never happened in the history of major league baseball, and certainly not in the 37 years of the I-75 Strat-O-Matic League. But in their May series against the Dyersville Treblemakers, the South Grand Prairie Warriors’ Giancarlo Stanton had a historic accomplishment as he cracked a record five home runs in SGP’s 23-4 rout.

Stanton clubbed an eighth-inning grand slam in his sixth at-bat of the game to cap the epic performance that saw him rack up 10 RBIs. The Warriors stroked nine homers in the blowout en route to a 12-8 record in May.

Stanton bashed three homers off Dyersville starter Wade Miley, going deep in the first inning (solo), second (two-run blast) and fourth (two-run shot). Then with Vidal Nuno on the hill in the eighth, Stanton hit both a solo homer and grand slam as part of an eight-run inning.

In his other at-bat, Stanton struck out in the fifth inning.

Paul Goldschmidt also had a strong game, with a 4-5-3-5 line that included two homers. The game was played in Fenway Park, a Warriors home game on a night the weather was rated ‘bad.’

Sixteen major league players have had four homers in a game, most recently Josh Hamilton for the Texas Rangers in 2012, but no one has ever had five.

“It was a crazy game for sure,” said Warriors manager Garth Lewis.

Longtime league observers could not recall a four-homer game taking place in the league. Gary Sheffield had a three-homer, 12-RBI game for the Michigan Drifters in a July 1997 game against the Bismarck Bombers.

[1]BOXSCORE: 2016 Dyersville Treblemakers At 2016 S Grand Prairie Warri 5/9/2016

[1] Treblemakers        AB R H RBI AVG       Warriors                AB R H RBI AVG
A.Eaton RF                    5  0   1    0   .220       D.Lemahieu 2B     4   2  3    1    .311
S.Piscotty LF                 1  0   0   0    .286       C.Santana DH       5   3   2    2   .214
A-J.Gallo PH,LF          2  0  0   0    .333         P.Goldschmidt 1B  4   5   3    5   .401
F-A.Sanchez PH          1   0  0   0   .000         G.Stanton RF      6   5   5   10   .277
K.Wong 2B                   5   0  0   0    .253         C.Gomez CF           6   2   3   1   .389
J.Abreu 1B                    5   1   3   1    .281         D.Valencia 3B        3   1   0   0   .136
K.Seager 3B                  3   1   1   0   .265         D.Norris C              5   2   1   2   .258
M.Kemp DH                 4   1   2   0   .229        G.Blanco LF           4   1   1   1    .206
B.Swihart C                  4   1    2    2   .333       D-M.Scherzer PH  1   0   1   0  1.000
G.Polanco CF               3   0   0   0   .244        E-A.Ethier LF        0   0   0   0   .250
A.Simmons SS             3   0   1   1    .232         A.Russell SS           2   0   0   0   .197
B-P.Gosselin PH         0   1   0   0   .273
C-M.Duffy SS               2   1   0  0   .293
— — — — — — — —
[1] Totals                     36   4   10   4                   Totals                     42   23   19   22

A-Pinch Hit For Piscotty In 3rd Inning
B-Pinch Hit For Russell In 5th Inning
C-Subbed Defensively (SS) For Gosselin In 6th Inning
D-Pinch Hit For Blanco In 8th Inning
E-Subbed Defensively (LF) For Scherzer In 9th Inning
F-Pinch Hit For Gallo In 9th Inning

Treblemakers…. 0 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 –  4 10 3
Warriors……..      4 3 0 2 6 0 0 8 x – 23 19 1

[1]Treblemakers (11-33)          IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA SCORESHEET
W.Miley LOSS(0-4)                   5 13 15 14   4    4    6    8.16   A1 D5
V.Nuno                                          3  6   8   8   3    3    3    9.00  D6
[1]Totals                                        8 19 23 22   7  7    9

[1]Warriors (27-17)                   IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA SCORESHEET
J.Hammel WIN(5-2)                 5  6    1   1     2    4    1   4.31 A1 C3
M.Estrada SAVE(1st)                4  4   3   3    2    4    0    4.61 C4
[1]Totals                                       9 10  4   4    4    8    1

ATTENDANCE- 26,081 DATE- Thursday, May 9th 2016 TIME- Night WEATHER- Bad
T- 3:36
LEFT ON BASE- Treblemakers: 9 Warriors: 3
DOUBLE PLAYS- Treblemakers: 2 Warriors: 1
ERRORS- K.Wong, A.Simmons, V.Nuno, G.Stanton
DOUBLES- B.Swihart(1st), C.Gomez(1st)
TRIPLES- B.Swihart(1st), D.Lemahieu(1st)
HOME RUNS- J.Abreu(5th), P.Goldschmidt-2(10th), G.Stanton-5(13th), C.Gomez(1st),
D.Norris(6th)
RBIs- J.Abreu(19th), B.Swihart-2(2nd), A.Simmons(15th), D.Lemahieu(16th),
C.Santana-2(30th), P.Goldschmidt-5(44th), G.Stanton-10(28th),
C.Gomez(2nd), D.Norris-2(20th), G.Blanco(11th)
CAUGHT STEALING- M.Kemp
SACRIFICE FLIES- D.Lemahieu
WALKS- J.Gallo, K.Seager, G.Polanco, A.Simmons, D.Lemahieu, C.Santana,
P.Goldschmidt-2, D.Valencia-2, P.Gosselin
STRIKE OUTS- A.Eaton, J.Gallo-2, K.Wong, J.Abreu, B.Swihart, G.Polanco,
A.Simmons, P.Goldschmidt, G.Stanton, C.Gomez, D.Valencia-2,
G.Blanco, M.Duffy
GIDP- K.Wong, C.Santana, D.Norris
WILD PITCHES- W.Miley

A look back at Expansion Era, Chapter One

With the conclusion of the 2015 regular season, we close Chapter One on the 15-team Expansion Era of the I-75 League.

Next year we begin Chapter 2, with reshuffled divisions, so let’s look back at the four years since we ballooned from 12 to 15 clubs.

Quick quiz: Only two teams made the playoffs all four years. Can you name them?

Not Chatfield. Although the Choo-Choos won three division titles with 100-plus-win-seasons, and had the most wins of any club over the four-year span with 387, they also posted a clunker in 2013, winning just 55 games.

Actually, 11 of our 15 teams made the playoffs at least once. Three of the four who didn’t were expansion teams (English/Destin, Michigan, Satellite Beach).

And then there’s Hickory.

The Nuts last cracked the postseason in 2011, when they won the World Series, but since have hit the skids, due in part to a series of high draft picks that have either been injured or haven’t realized their potential (Wil Myers, Michael Pineda, Gregory Polanco).

The team with the second-most wins in the Expansion Era might be a surprise. It’s Applegate, with 358, thanks to two division titles sandwiching two mediocre years.

So who could it be? Four straight playoff appearances and not among the top two in wins over that time period?

How about never-seems-to-be-rebuilding Savannah? Ding! The Scorpions are one of the two clubs that made the playoffs all four years, and had the third-most wins with 353. The Scorps in fact have made the playoffs in six of the last seven years, and the one year they missed (2011) was only due to a Game 161 tiebreaker loss to Applegate.

OK, give up on the other club?

Continue reading

In our 36th season, our first perfect game: Applegate’s Tim Hudson whitewashes Hickory

Applegate’s Tim Hudson hurled what is believed to be the first perfect game in the 36-year history of the I-75 League, holding Hickory without a baserunner — or even a close call — in a 6-0 victory July 3.

Hudson struck out nine and retired all 27 hitters he faced, striking out pinch-hitter Javier Baez to close the contest. Tim_Hudson_14Hickory had three split roll chances at singles, all at 1-10 odds or less, and missed all three.

Hudson, a 4e15 pitcher, also fielded a Pitcher (X) roll cleanly with one out in the ninth. Hudson, who improved to 7-5 on the year with a 3.18 ERA, was making his first start since May, having been inactive in June.

“I wasn’t even really aware he had a no-hitter going until about the sixth inning,” said Paperclips manager Gary Kicinski. “We grabbed an early lead and got our defensive guys in there early, and I noticed in the sixth Hudson hadn’t allowed a hit, but I couldn’t really remember if he’d walked a guy or not.” Continue reading

1992 Convention: The Uncut Video

Our longtime managers are quite familiar with one of the most remarkable moments in I-75 League history, that being the no-hitter that Nolan Ryan pitched for the Tropical Heat against the Ansbach Angels at the 1992 convention — a moment caught on tape and preserved for the ages.

We uploaded that video to YouTube in 2010, tagged it “Strat-O-Matic” among other things, and to date it has amassed more than 3,000 views.

Today we present the uncut, unedited, 24-minute version of the video from that convention, which marked the start of our 13th season. We were blessed to have a full turnout of all nine managers that year.

The video shows, among other things:

* Softball action, and batting practice with a young David Hart. His dad captures a popup of David’s with a nifty behind-the-back catch at the 3-minute mark.

* Off-the-wall predictions from each of our nine managers.

* Early-season Strat action, including that no-hitter tilt between managers Jamie Turner and Steve Hart. (Note that it’s after 1:30 in the morning and Steve Hart is still awake.)

* A Steve Bizek headstand.

* And lots of other condo scenes.

Enjoy.

A look back at our 2012 expansion

Part I of a five-part series looking back at the 2012 expansion draft.

“And with the 217th pick in the 2012 Draft, the English Pigdogs select…. Nathan Eovaldi.”

History does not record whether anyone proclaimed, “Good pick!” or cursed and muttered, “I was just looking at him.” More likely, most of the league had stopped paying attention since they were done drafting. After Eovaldi, only five picks remained.

Nathan Eovaldi

Nathan Eovaldi

Yet Eovaldi is notable as one of just 19 players among the four expansion teams who was selected or acquired prior to the 2012 season and remains with his original club as our 2014 season winds down. That’s 19 out of 145 players — just 13%. Eovaldi was the latest player chosen to hold that honor.

That’s right. In less than three full seasons, 87% of the players who were originally drafted or acquired by the four expansion teams prior to Opening Day 2012 already have been cut or traded.

In this five-part series, we look back at the league’s expansion plans at the time and examine the status of each of the four clubs that came into being that year — the Iowa Cyclones, Michigan Moneyballers, Satellite Beach Brawlers and English Pigdogs, now known as the Destin Beach Bums.

If the goal of the structure of the expansion draft was to allow the clubs to build for the future, the player turnover seems to indicate either a flaw in the plan or an impatience on the part of the new franchise GMs. But does that even matter?

Continue reading

Draft countdown: 7 days remaining

As 2012 draft fever builds, we reach into the archives for this photo of what appears to be the winning team in one of our annual softball clashes. Can you name the team members — and the year???