AZ MSBL 25+ Central Division
Submitted by Neil Rosekrans, Braves manager
The AZ Braves (15-9-1) finished the 2014 summer season as runner-up in the 10-team 25 Central Division.
The top four teams of each division advance to the playoffs and the Braves regular season record landed a #3 seeding in the double-elimination playoff tournament. The first round paired the Braves against the Mets, a rival that had defeated the Braves in eight consecutive match-ups dating back to June 2013.
The Braves, with several players out of town, once again fell victim to the Mets in a lopsided 12-5 loss. However, Jim Collentro pitched a gem in long relief, allowing just five hits and two earned runs over five innings. This allowed the Braves to preserve pitching for the round two elimination game against the Dukes, who had also lost their initial playoff game.
The Braves prevailed over the Dukes, 12-11, in a high-scoring nail biter. Lyman Hagan jump-started the Braves offense with a solo home run over the right field wall in the bottom of the second inning. Six Braves batters had a multi-hit game and the Braves were able to overcome a three-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth inning and edge the Dukes. Jim Collentro is credited with the game-winning RBI and Kolton Morrison pitched a clean ninth inning for the save.
With the win over the Dukes, the Braves advanced to the next round to face the Mets again in a critical elimination game. The winner would advance to play the Heat in the 25 Central finals. The Braves, with their entire lineup available as well as ace pitcher Chad Simendinger on the mound, defeated the Mets 6-0. Simendinger pitched a complete game shutout, only giving up one hit and striking out 15 Mets batters.
After defeating the Mets, the Braves advanced to the championship game versus the AZ Heat. The Braves, after playing a tough playoff schedule, were running on fumes and lost 15-6.
The Braves entered the men’s league in 2013 and have advanced to the playoffs in both years. The team looks forward to returning to the finals in 2015 and ultimately holding the trophy at the end of the season. The Braves 2014 summer roster: Jeremy Bourque, Jim Collentro, Eric Collentro, Lyman Hagan, Mike Harney, Antonio Huez (2014 All Star), Mark Kaegi, Ari Kalantarzadeth, Mark Lamirande, Dave Lovett, Will McCord, Kolton Morrison, Nathan Niemira, Chad Simendinger (2014 All Star), Dave Tendering, Travis Wilbeck and manager Neil Rosekrans.