2021 Blaze Sweep Steve’s Sports in Championship Series in 25+ Gold Division of Cleveland MSBL

Cleveland MSBL, 25+ Gold Division

Blaze 5, Steve’s Sports 4 (Game two in best of three series sweep)

Submitted by Brendan Borkey, Blaze manager

Blaze made its way into the playoffs as the second seed with a 13-3 record of the nine-team Gold Division in the Cleveland MSBL.

In the first round of the playoffs, a combined effort by Joe Borkey and Brendon Borkey pitched a 3-hit shutout in a 7-0 win. In the bottom of the third inning, John Nahra’s no-doubt home run over the right-center fence broke the scoreless tie. Marcus Bobb later added a 2-RBI triple to the center-field wall to make it 5-0. In the 8th, Bobb and Nahra again each collected another RBI to make it 7-0.

The semi-final game started a stretch of playoff magic of late-inning heroics to take home the championship. Trailing 7-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, with one out, a Joe Borkey HBP and a John Rowan walk got the inning going. Marcus Bobb started a string of consecutive hits with an RBI single. AJ Strnad’s RBI double off the wall in left field made the game 7-6. Brendan Palm, on a 3-0 count, walked it off with a 2-RBI single to the left-center. 

In the championship, going into the ninth inning of game one against Steve’s Sports, the Blaze were down 5-4. AJ Strnad led off with a double down the third baseline, then TJ Lett followed with a go-ahead 2-run home run. Blaze was not done as Luke Caple followed with a single to center, and Julio Rosales bunted him over to second base. Tyler Bortnick continued with an RBI triple off the right-center wall and John Rowan added another insurance run with an RBI single to make it 8-5.

In game two of the best of three series, with one out in the first inning, TJ Lett doubled to right-center and would eventually score on a wild pitch to make the game 1-0. Blaze was then held scoreless until the bottom of the seventh inning, down three, 4-1. Marcus Bobb singled, AJ Strnad followed with a walk, and a wild pitch put the runners on second and third.  TJ Lett hit a sac fly and another wild pitch one batter later allowed Strnad to score to make it 4-3. In the bottom of the eighth Julio Rosales led off with a walk and Nahra singled to right to put the first two batters of the inning on. John Rowan then came off the bench as a pinch hitter to deliver the biggest hit of the season with an RBI double down the right-field line to make it a 4-4 game. Marcus Bobb would then put Blaze on top 5-4 with a sac fly scoring Nahra. Steve’s Sports would go scoreless in the top of the ninth to seal the victory.

There was not one teammate that carried the weight, as collectively top to bottom each player held a role and somebody each week would step up to deliver big hits and plays. Blaze allowed the second-fewest runs, but the credit goes beyond the pitching staff of Brendon Borkey, Joe Borkey, Matt Palko, and Dominic Edwards. Infielders Marcus Bobb, Tyler Bortnick, Brendan Palm, and Julio Rosales made highlight reel and game-saving plays each week.

The catching trio of Pat Heckman, Luke Caple, and John Novak supplied lockdown defense, exceptional pitch calling while taking away the chance of any running game.

Here are our Statistic Leaders: Batting Average: Luke Caple (.452) Brendan Palm (.415) Runs scored: AJ Strnad and Brendan Palm (16 each) Hits: Brendan Palm (22) Tyler Bortnick, Tom Brandt, and Julio Rosales (21 hits each). RBI’s: Luke Caple (17) Matt Palko and Julio Rosales (13 each) Stolen Bases: Marcus Bobb (10) Brendan Palm (8) Pitching: Joe Borkey (1.93 ERA, 43 k’s, 32 2/3 innings) Brendon Borkey (2.74ERA, 78 k’s, 75 2/3 innings) Matt Palko (3.86 ERA, 49 k’s, 35 innings).

Our championship team consists of: Brendon Borkey, Joe Borkey, Marcus Bobb, Brendan Palm, Tyler Bortnick, Patrick Heckman, John Novak, Luke Caple, John Rowan, Mike Capel, Dominic Edwards, Matt Palko, AJ Strnad, TJ Lett, Tom Brandt, John Nahra, Trevor Durkalski, and Julio Rosales.