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Atlanta Tarheels Post Magnificent Year in Atlanta MABL 18+ American Metal

Atlanta MABL, 18+ American Metal Bat Division

Team pictured at David Whitley's daughter's recent wedding with their "Heel Babe's".  Left to Right: Austin Lark, Ryan Raper, Dallas Groves, Ty Whitley, Nick Galeotti, Coach David Whitley, Taylor Bowles, Matt Allen, Jay Felger, Drew Griswell, Zach Smith, Pat Merkling 

Submitted by David Whitley, manager 

The 18+ Atlanta Tarheels ended their 2017 Summer Metal Bat season with another trip to the championship round, for their fourth trip in six years.  This is the Tarheels sixth year in MABL and plays in not only the Spring and Summer Sunday league, but also the Midweek Wood Bat league as well as the current Fall League.  In most years, the "Heels" will play 45 to 50 games and have tallied six total championships in those years. In those six years, the Heels have amassed a record of 229 wins and 38 losses. 

The "Heels"are led by long term team members Matt Allen, Taylor Bowles, Ben Eidson, Dallas Groves, Austin Lark, Jay Felger, Zach Smith, Drew Griswell, Clay Remole, Ty Whitley, Jared Gilleland, Paul Solorzano, Nick Galeotti, along with Pat Merkling and Alex Murfin

The "Heels" finished the regular season with a record of 16-2 and another division championship.  Both losses came to the ultimate champion Atlanta Giants by scores of 7-5 and 9-8.  The Heels took the first game of the season series against the Giants with a 6-5 win. 

In the first round of the playoffs, the Heels cruised to a comfortable win in a one game series versus the Hurricanes, which set up a best 2 of 3 series with the always tough Southside Blue Jay's.  Game one went to the Heels 4-0 behind a dominant pitching performance by Pat Merkling, and stellar defense by Matt Allen and Taylor Bowles.  Game two was a 10 inning thriller with lead changes the entire game.  The Heels got down quickly by a score of 5-1, only to be reignited by a grand slam off the bat of Dallas Groves to tie the game.  Regulation play ended in a 6-6 score and concluded with a 10th inning walk off by the Blue Jays.

In the Game three rubber match, the Heels pulled out a tough 8-5 win behind the gutsy pitching of Jay Felger who is coming off of labrum surgery.  Jay's innings have been limited in his comeback but was clearly ready for the challenge and pitched a complete game for the win. 

In the championship round, the Heels once again faced the Atlanta Giants, who had shared the regular season lead all year.  The Giants are an extremely good team with many talented players who are tough every time out.  These games would prove no exception.  After a very close first four innings, the Giants blew the game open with a 6-run inning, moving on to a 11-1 win.  Game two proved to be a back and forth affair with each team counter punching the others scores.  As the game drew to a close and the Giants up 11-7 in the bottom of the ninth, the Heels loaded the bases with a chance to win and force a Game three.  However, a great play in the infield to force a runner at home and a strike out ended the game.  All credit to the Giants on a great season and championship!

We now move on to Fall League play, and hopefully, another championship.  As I am certain is true for many teams, the best thing about the Heels is that at its core, it's a group of friends who just happen to be really good baseball players.  The camaraderie built over many years extends beyond the playing field, and everyone pulls for the other guy.  Together, this makes coaching this group, some of whom played in youth ball together, truly special.  They are a great group of young men, as well as great ball players as well.

We can't wait for next season!

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