Indiana Adult Baseball League, 18+ Division

War Eagles 4, Orioles 1

‘Vogt Takes Charge on the Bump with 19 K’s’

Submitted by Hobs Donovan, War Eagles manager

The 2020 season for the Indiana Adult Baseball League always starts a little later than expected, typically due to weather. Obviously, this year created new challenges and none of the teams would have been able to play without the efforts of John Decosta, League President. From finding umpires, fields, times, and then dealing with teams, John took on a lot this season and was able to make the season happen! I think it goes without saying that everyone in the league is grateful for the time and effort he put into making the 2020 IABL season a success. 

This was the fourth season for the War Eagles and their best one since their inaugural season in 2017, when they also won the Championship. In 2017 the War Eagles were one of the top scoring teams in the league averaging 7.4 runs per game along with a deep pitching staff that only allowed 2.6 runs per game. This 2020 season would be a little different. 

The 2020 season saw the War Eagles finish in the bottom half of the league in runs scored with 4.9 runs per game, but were able to maintain the season average only allowing 2.6 runs per game. This was due in large part to Greg Vogt, who joined the team in 2019 after I coaxed him out of retirement. Greg truly shined in 2019 and continued his success in 2020 where he put the team on his back coming up with big strikeouts in key situations throughout the season. In the playoffs when he was needed the most, he threw 25 innings, giving up only 10 hits, one earned run, while adding 41 strikeouts. In the semi-championship he had 15Ks and really turned it on in the championship with 19Ks. Greg finished the 2020 season with an amazing 0.49 ERA and 95Ks over 55 innings pitched.

As the War Eagles opponents were having trouble adding to the scoreboard, they too struggled at times. Runs were not always easy to come by, but discipline at the plate led to key opportunities and big innings. They finished with the least amount of strikeouts and drew the most walks in the league while finishing second in OPS. Getting on base with clutch hitting led to the War Eagles finishing at the top of the league during the regular season and carried them through the playoffs.

Leadoff hitter JB McCallum seemed to always find a way to get on and team RBI leaders Jeremy Shelmadine (led the league in HRs), Ryan McPike, Reid Pittard, Andrew Eiler and me drove him in. The second half of the lineup, or the self-proclaimed “Trash Bats”, were instrumental in turning the line up over and wearing down the opponent’s starting pitcher. Self-appointed King of the “Trash Bats”, James Brashaber, was a significant contributor to the team, hitting .346 and an OBS of .496. Success of the team was found also here with key contributors Colton Fang, Noah Niswonger and Andrew Quinn, who pulled off a walk-off drag bunt after hurting his shoulder. 

Along with pitching, the War Eagles defense was second to none. Austin Nickol was a rock behind the plate all season and always called a great game. Rarely did a ball get by him as kept runners in check when they got on. In the outfield Andy Crooks and Jon White were like Bald Eagles going after a salmon. Nothing was ever out of their grasp and rarely did anything drop for a hit. 

In the championship game all of this game together. The very first run of the game in the third inning came from a 10+ pitch drawn walk by JB McCallum, followed by a first pitch triple by Tasker Strobel. The Orioles answered in the top of the fifth with a run of their own. In the bottom of that inning, the War Eagles answered, scratching two more after big hits from the “Trash Bats”. With 19ks the defense didn’t have to do too much, but with runners on, Andy Crooks was able to prevent any scoring after tracking down a line drive in the gap. In the seventh they added one more run and Greg Vogt so fittingly sealed the deal striking out the last Oriole batter in the ninth. 

In February of 2020, the War Eagles lost long-time fan and sponsor of the team Harry Donovan Jr. Harry played basketball and graduated from Auburn University and when the team was founded in 2017, it was named in respect of his alma mater. The team would like to dedicate this season and championship win in memory of him.