Bay Area MSBL, 35+ Division
A’s 15, Seals 1 (Game three of Championship Series)
The 35+ Athletics of the Bay Area Men’s Senior Baseball League (BAMSBL) are champions. Again. For the seventh time in the past nine years, they posed for a team photo following the final game of their season — everyone holding up the number 1, a routine they’ve grown accustomed to over the years. This season, however, was anything but routine.
In contrast to past regular seasons, where they would almost predictably secure 1st or 2nd place and enjoy the luxury of a first round bye, the 35+ A’s found themselves in fourth place heading into this year’s playoffs. They faced the 35+ Mustachios who, as the fifth seed, gave the A’s a powerful and unexpected run for their money. The back & forth game culminated in a highly tense top of the ninth inning which saw the A’s on top 4-3. With two outs, bases loaded, and a 3-2 count on the batter, veteran A’s right-hander, Jonathan (JJ) Jerolimek painted a fastball on the outside corner for strike three. Game over.
The A’s then breezed through the semifinals with a 9-2 drubbing of the 35+ Giants, celebrating their ninth straight trip to the finals in the visiting dugout of Marin Catholic High School’s baseball field.
Game one of the championship series versus the 35+ Seals was a showdown for the ages. With the A’s veteran righty, Jimmy Biernat, going up against the reigning Cy Young award winner and veteran left-hander, Aaron Selix, few were surprised to see the game unfold in a classic pitcher’s duel. With the score 0-0 heading into the ninth inning, the A’s took advantage of a Selix exit at the end of the eighth and scratched across two runs. Biernat took the mound in the bottom of the ninth to finish what he had started. And that he did. While both hurlers dominated their opposing batters, Jimmy stole the show with a jaw-dropping 17 strikeout / zero base-on-balls performance. Veteran catcher and longtime battery mate, Ryan Shallat, called Biernat’s outing “legendary,” adding that his pitcher was “throwing as hard in the ninth as he’d been in the first.”
Game two was payback for Selix, who again took the mound for the Seals. He faced the righty newcomer, Drew Doursette, who seemed to be peaking at just the right time in the season. While Selix was, once again, dominant, the A’s managed to level the game at three in the fifth inning and remain competitive. Biernat relieved Doursette and, while Jimmy pitched well…he didn’t quite have the stuff he showed up with in game one, giving up two unanswered runs over 4 innings. 5-3 Seals. Series tied 1-1.
In the ‘win or go home’ game three of the 2022 BAMSBL championship series, the 35+ A’s appeared to choose the former as they headed into the finale. For the third straight Sunday, Selix took the mound. Biernat, who benefited from some much-needed rest last weekend, returned as the starter and was back in dominating form. He also received an abundance of offensive support not only from guys like veteran sluggers, Craig Huckelbridge, Ron Richard, Kyle McClain, JJ Jerolimek, and Steve Peavler, but from the A’s burly rookie, Connor Freeman, whose power was on display throughout the playoffs.
Biernat, who credits all of his wins to his battery mate, Shallat, was also bolstered by some outstanding defense and uncharacteristically heady baseball by veteran player/manager, Hunter Bergner who, incidentally, deserves a good deal of credit for the ongoing success of this dynastic ball club.
After giving up only one run in five innings, Biernat was relieved by Doursette who tossed what seemed to be a perfect, final two innings of a 15-1, mercy-shortened ballgame. Hats off to the Seals for a fantastic season and championship series. As for the A’s…there they are again, alone on top.