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Dragons Win First Title in 25+ Division of Atlanta MSBL

Atlanta MSBL 25+ Division

Atlanta Dragons 8, Cherokees 2

Back Row L-R: Manager Brett Washburn, James Cooper, Justin Myles, Jonathan Vines, Glenn Harbin, Mike Brown, Brandon Paritz. Front Row L-R:Stef Lollar, Jeremy Duffy, Brendan Pilger, Brian Dermond, Chris Haggard, Matt Bishop

‘Lollar Throws Complete Game Championship Victory’

Submitted by Brett Washburn, Dragons manager

The Dragons and Cherokees matched up in the playoffs for the fifth time in the last eight years. Every series has gone to a game three with the Cherokees coming in as defending champs.

Game One: Dragons 2, Cherokees 0

This game was all about Dragons RHP Chris Haggard willing the Dragons to victory and some big plays made behind him.

After taking an early 2-0 lead on a James Cooper single and Brian Dermond groudout, Haggard controlled the high powered Cherokees the whole game. He got out of a bases loaded jam in the second by striking out the side and cruised the rest of the way until the Cherokees threatened in the sixth. A single and stolen base to start the inning was followed by a single to left. Left fielder Brendan Pilger came up throwing and hit catcher Justin Myles on the fly. Myles applied the tag on a bang-bang play at the plate and lunged to nip the runner and preserve the shutout.

Haggard (8-2, 3 saves) was dominant and in turn became the Dragons season record holder with eight wins on the mound as well as an astounding 0.70 ERA over 64 innings.

James Cooper was perfect on the day, going 2 for 2 with a walk and RBI. The Dragons stranded nine runners over six innings but escaped with the 2-0 win.

Game Two: Cherokees 4, Dragons 2

The second game of the day squared off the power pitching of Cherokees Timothy Jones and Dragons Daniel Sarisky. Both pitchers were dominant and the Dragons caught a break in the top of the fifth when Brian Dermond singled to start the inning and an errant pickoff throw allowed him to get to third with nobody out.  Jones got a strikeout, then walked Justin Myles before Glenn Harbin singled up the middle to break the scoreless tie.

The Cherokees would answer in the bottom of the inning with a walk and a single. An errant pick-off attempt at second base moved both runners into scoring position and Cherokees veteran, Howie Marx, singled to tie the game. Sarisky would leave with an injury to his throwing arm and Eric Swegman took over. After getting a groundout with the infield in, he got the next batter to break his bat and ground to short but the throw home was late and the Cherokees led 2-1 for the first time in the series. A wild pitch and three walks later it was 4-1. The Dragons would add a run on a deep double to center by Brendan Pilger to cut the lead to 4-2. He was stranded there and the Dragons would leave two more on base in the seventh as the Cherokees went on to force a series deciding game three on Sunday.

Game Three: Dragons 8, Cherokees 2

As expected, emotions were high for the series finale with perennial power Cherokees and the Dragons looking for their first title. Lefty hander Stef Lollar took the mound for the Dragons squaring off against the Cherokees power pitching Paul Bacot.

Brendan Pilger got things going for the Dragons with an RBI double in the first scoring Brandon Paritz from first base. Paritz made a great slide to avoid the tag and slip his hand in safely at home. The Cherokees took advantage of a couple errors and got on the board in the second to tie the game 1-1.

In the bottom of the fourth, James Cooper (.326) singled to start the inning and Brian Dermond bunted him over to second with one out. Matt Bishop hit a rocket single to left scoring Cooper and giving the Dragons a 2-1 lead. It would stay that way ‘til the sixth when Stef Lollar singled, Pilger walked, Cooper singled, and Brian Dermond was hit by a pitch to make it 3-1. A Bishop groundout would make it 4-1 and Justin Myles followed with the dagger, a 2 out 2 run double to push the lead to 6-1.

Cherokees slugger, Vince Palmer, homered to make it 6-2 in the seventh but the Dragons immediately answered with two more in the bottom of the inning on back to back RBI singles by Brendan Pilger (.456) and James Cooper.

Stef Lollar (3-1, 2 saves, 1.81 ERA) was dominant on the mound. The lefty scattered eight hits and got some help behind him with two double plays. Lollar struck out three and went the distance to pick up the complete game win and give the Dragons their first league title in their 22 year history!

Dragons manager Brett Washburn got his first championship after 21 years as a player and 16 years as manager.  It took Washburn (224-128-3) 355 games at the helm and his 224th managerial win to finally be able to hoist the trophy.  

The Dragons will be back next year to defend the title and in November, James Cooper will lead the Dragons in the MSBL Fall Classic in Florida, returning there for the third year in a row.

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