2015 Tigers Win Title in First Year in Western Mass MSBL

Western Mass MSBL

Chicopee Falls Tigers 10, Springfield Senators 3

‘Conde Leads the Way on the Hill’

Contributed by Jeff Couture, Tigers manager

The Chicopee Falls Tigers stormed into their 2015 Western Mass MSBL inaugural season completing the regular season 20-0 before moving into the playoffs. Andre Conde started the season opener way back on April 12th vs the visiting Agawam Brown Sox. In that tone-setting game, Conde threw the league’s first ever perfect game, defeating Agawam 10-0. The Tigers continued to execute their formula of excellent starting pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting throughout the season before getting past the Senators in the final game of the regular season, 1-0. Close, well played games all season long between the Tigers and the defending Champion Springfield Senators were a prelude to the eventual finals match-up.

Springfield skipper Mike Whatley guided his club past the Phillies in the first round, then the Bullies in the second round to move on to defend their title against the newcomers from Chicopee. The Tigers, fresh off their sweep of the Blizzard following a first round bye, would face the Senators in Game One of the 2015 Finals in a morning match-up at St. Joe’s Ballpark in Palmer. The Tigers would send starting pitcher and holder of a 10-0 regular season record Andre Conde to the mound to face off against starter Jack Ryan and a tough Senators lineup. Both starters pitched well and the defense backed up both pitchers throughout the game. Matt Sullivan got the scoring going early leading off the game with a base hit and eventually scored on a Brandon Seymour single giving the defending champs an early lead. However, like they have all season, the Tigers came back with two more in the second. Paul Winiarski walked and Karl Oliveira singled setting up first and second with one out. Ralph Edwards singled home Winiarski and Tigers skipper Jeff Couture doubled in another run giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Both pitchers held the opposition scoreless in the middle innings including a stretch in the sixth and seventh when Conde struck out four Senators in a row. It wasn’t until the bottom of the eighth when season long contributors John Boozang and Adam Zebian stroked back to back doubles to push the lead to 4-1. Springfield put two on in the top of the ninth, but Conde and the Tigers held them off for a 4-1 victory.

Game Two shifted to McKenzie Stadium in Holyoke under the lights with a confident Senators team ready to stave off elimination. Pete Varley faced off against Tigers’ starter Steve Lagasse. This time it was the Tigers who got off to an early lead when Paul Winiarski drove in Brad Brothers for an early 2-0 lead. The Senators came with three in the third thanks to a long double by Matt Sullivan. The score would hold up until the sixth when the Senators tacked on two more for the 5-2 lead. Karl Oliveira lined his second hit of the game to drive in a run and would later score on a passed ball to make it 5-4, but the Senators would close it out for the victory and knocked the Tigers out of the undefeated ranks and forcing a deciding Game Three.

It was back to St. Joe’s for the winner take all third and final game which saw Conde and Ryan returning to the mound to represent their clubs on the mound. Both teams arrived for the 7:15pm start ready to play with the visiting Senators racing out to an early 2-0 lead with a single by Matt Sullivan and Mike Charizio, followed by a deep gapper by Pete Varley scoring both base runners. Varley would be stranded at second and the Tigers came to the plate in the bottom half of the inning. Adam Zebian was hit by a pitch, then Tim Sigda smashed a deep double to left center to score him. Brad Brothers then hit one high and deep to left center tripling in another run. Karl Oliveira then laced a single to give the Tigers the lead. After an exciting first inning, Conde and the Tigers took the field and sent the Senators down 1-2-3. The eventual Champs came back strong in the bottom of the second scoring four more runs thanks in part to a clutch RBI single by John Boozang and an RBI double by catcher Adam Zebian. The Senators were only able to scratch across one more run thanks to a solid Tigers defense and 10 strike outs by Conde, who finished the season 12-0 with two saves. The Tigers tacked on three more throughout the game finishing with a 10-3 victory. The teams shook hands at home plate as the fireworks flew over head and the champagne popped in typical Tigers fashion.

The Tigers recently left the Full Count League, another local hard ball league in which they won the Championship six out of eight years. “We were really looking forward to joining a solid, well-run league filled with good players. The WMWBL has established itself and we’re happy to be a part of it,” Tigers coach Jeff Couture said. “The Senators have a great team, I can see why they won it last year. I’m proud of our team and the way we played all season.”