Greater Philadelphia MABL 25+
Muckdogs 6, Comets 0
Contributed by Brian Smith, Muckdogs manager
The Muckdogs entered the season with a roster almost completely intact from the one that went to, but lost, the previous two Greater Philadelphia MABL championships. With Brian Smith back at the helm for his fourth season, the Muckdogs returned GPMABL Cy Young winners Dan Schiffner and Nick Long along with MVP candidates Scott Stanton and Mike Balash, defensive stalwart Kyle Landreth and speedster Shane Freer. The Muckdogs added Junior Lewis, a hard hitting shortstop who played the last few seasons in the Trenton area, and Ryan Pavone, who brought some stability to the bullpen and solid defense at third base. Mark Duffy, a GPMABL all-star and winner of two championships,switched teams to give the Muckdogs the best one-two catching combo in the league. The Muckdogs jumped out early in the standings before falling into a mid season funk in which the bats went quiet in a 3-4 stretch from May 18th to June 15th.
The June 15th Father’s day loss to the defending champion Comets dropped the Muckdogs out of the top spot for the first time all season. The Muckdogs returned the following week against a tough opponent in Penn division rival Colt 45’s. The Muckdogs won the double-header and positioned themselves in full control of the division. From June 22nd to season’s end on July 27th the Muckdogs outscored their opponents 93-14, including 13-2 and 18-1 wins over the Brawlers, along with 11-0 and 17-3 wins over the rival Comets, which would put the Muckdogs back in first place overall. The Muckdogs would end the regular season on a ten game winning streak and claim their second consecutive Penn Division Pennant and the top seed entering the playoffs.
For the season the Muckdogs would finish with the lowest team ERA in GPMABL history at 1.11. Nick Long would finish with the third lowest single season ERA at 0.32 while Dan Schiffner would add another ten win season to his ever growing resume’. Ryan Pavone picked up six saves on the year. The Muckdogs finished the season with the #1 pitching (1.11 ERA), #1 defense (.958 FPC) and #2 offense (.301 AVG).
The Muckdogs opened the playoffs against the #8 seed Brawlers and made quick work of them winning 14-2. In the best of three semifinals, the Muckdogs would square off against the much improved Fighting Irish who entered the playoffs as the #5 seed. Game one was a pitcher’s duel that would have the Muckdogs tied at one in the 6th before Shane Freer would get things rolling with a triple. Ryan Pavone would then knock Freer in with a poke out to right field to make the Muckdogs 2-1 winners in game one. The Muckdogs would then close out the Irish in game two by a 5-0 score to advance to their third straight championship series and third against the Comets. The Muckdogs opened the scoring getting out to a 1-0 lead before the Comets would work their way back and take a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh. With the Muckdogs down to their final three outs, Mark Duffy laced a single. The Muckdogs manager would then turn to speedster Shane Freer as a pinch runner. Freer was advanced to second on a Jack Lenoir sacrifice bunt which set the stage for Scott Stanton. Stanton delivered with a double to the gap which scored Freer and tied the game at two. Mike Balash, who came on in relief in the seventh inning, would retire the Comets in the eighth. Kyle Landreth started the bottom of the eighth with a hard fought walk. Landreth moved into scoring position after Brad Livingston walked. Shane Freer would step to the plate for the first time after coming in to pinch run and scoring the tying run. Freer would make the Muckdogs walk-off winners with a deep double to right center that allowed Landreth to easily score. In the potential clinch game for the Muckdogs in the best of three series, they would turn to Dan Schiffner. The offense gave Schiffner all the support he would need on the day providing him with 6 runs, including three-hit games from Mike Balash, Junior Lewis and Rob Worrell. Schiffner threw a complete game, 82 pitch shutout while recording the game ending unassisted double-play on a liner back to the mound. The Muckdogs would win the game 6-0 and hoist the GPMABL commissioner’s cup for the first time in franchise history and first time in three tries. Dan Schiffner would finish the playoffs 3-0 with two complete game shutouts allowing only two runs over 21 innings. The Muckdogs became the first team in GPMABL history to go 5-0 in the playoffs. The championship was extra special for Brian Smith, Jack Lenoir, Nick Long and Josh Gansky as they are the only four remaining from opening day of the Muckdogs franchise.