Connecticut MSBL, 25+ Division
Monroe Top Hats 10, Newton Outlaws 4
Submitted by Jason Moss, Top Hats manager
After a solid regular season shortened due to COVID-19, the Monroe (CT) Top Hats entered the playoffs as the #3 seed (out of 12). The league used a double-elimination format for the first time in its history to best accommodate field availability amidst the pandemic.
After hard-fought victories in the first two playoff games, the Hats lost 12-0 to the rival Newtown Outlaws, setting up a tricky path to the championship.
The Hats won their quarterfinal game 4-2 behind dominant pitching from ace Frank Fedak and a walk off 3-run home run by third baseman Jason Moss.
The next day, in the losers’ bracket final, the Hats got solid pitching from “Johnny Wholestaff” and clutch 2-RBI hits from catcher Brian Rojee and Fedak to win 8-2 and qualify for the finals, where they would need to win two games against the Newtown Outlaws in order to secure a championship.
In game one, the Outlaws threw their top pitcher, Miles Scribner, while the Top Hats countered with ace workhorse, Frank Fedak. The Hats drew first blood, scoring in the first inning on an RBI single by Rojee. The Hats added an unearned run in the fourth on an RBI single by Fedak and one run in the fifth on an RBI by Moss, who drove in left fielder Chris Tuba with two outs after Tuba had doubled earlier in the inning.
Fedak was dominant on the mound, throwing a 2-hit shutout to lead the 3-0 game one victory and force a game two.
Both game one starters took the ball to start game two. Scribner and Fedak were up to the challenge as the teams were locked in a 2-1 duel entering the fifth inning. However, the depth of the Top Hats lineup finally wore Scribner down, busting the game open with a 7-run inning. The big blow was a bases loaded, 3-RBI double by the team’s regular season batting champion, first baseman Ron Williams.
The Outlaws added a few runs late, but it wasn’t enough, as Fedak again went the distance and the Top Hats won 10-4 to take home the 2020 CT National MSBL 25+ championship.
Fedak’s double complete game effort was bolstered by 14 innings of great game-calling by catcher Brian Rojee and outstanding defense on the left side of the field from third baseman Jeff Rago, shortstop Hunter Phillips, and left fielder Chris Tuba, with all chances handled flawlessly as Fedak kept the Outlaws hitters off balance, consistently inducing soft contact.
Outfielder Steve Brink and OF / DH Tommy Falduto contributed timely hitting during the playoffs to keep the offense moving. Athletic utility infielder Adam Claire’s move to center field full time early in the season greatly improved and stabilized the defense. Second baseman Bryan Connolly carried the team at times offensively during the regular season. Outfilder Jeremy Meady provided pop and lengthened the lineup. Pitcher Clemente Alvear ate innings and provided veteran leadership. Utility infielder Tommy Banca has now had at least one hit in 55 consecutive seasons of baseball. All in all, the 2020 championship season was a total team effort, and we are already looking forward to next year.
The 2020 championship was the Top Hats’ eighth in 20 seasons of existence and fourth in the last 10.