Chicago North MSBL, 42+ Division
Blue Jays 11, Red Hawks 2 (Game Two in Best-of-Three Championship Series Sweep)
The 42+ Division Blue Jays, managed by League President Max Reising, got off to a good start in 2023 going 4 and 1 in their first five games. Over the next six games, the Jays went 1 and 5. The next six games they turned it around with 4 wins, 1 loss, and a tie and appeared to be back in the race. But again, things went south as they went 1 and 6 down the stretch ending the regular season with 10 wins 13 losses, and one tie and drawing the number 5 seed in the playoffs.
The Jays drew the 4th-seeded Royals, who had beaten the Jays 2 of 3 in the regular season for the quarter-final best-of-three playoff. The Jays offense, led by Eric Simon, took over and the Jays won game one, 17 to 13, and game two by a 9 to 3 margin for the sweep. The Royals were the 2021 Champions and always a top-tier team.
The semifinal series pitted the Jays against the number 1 seed and 2022 Champion Woodpeckers (18-6), who also beat the Jays 2 out of 3 in the regular season.
In game one, the Jays took the lead but gave it up in the fifth inning, losing 5 to 4. Down a game with their backs to the wall, Reising handed the ball for game two to Oscar Samano, veteran catcher and utility player. Oscar did not disappoint. He held the Woodpeckers to one run and five hits going the distance while the Jays’ offense put up eight runs over the final three innings for the victory evening up the series at 1 and 1.
Game three, the rubber match, was another great game. On four days rest Reising once again gave the nod to Samano was even better than in game two, going the distance giving the lone Woodpecker run in the sixth on six hits going the distance for the ‘W’ again.
The Jays scored one in the first and after six, the game was tied at one each. In the top of the seventh, the Jays scored twice and then held in the bottom of the seventh for the victory advancing to the Championship series.
The number 2 seed, the 17-6-1 Red Hawks (2020 Champs), had played the Jays tough in the regular season, beating the Jays twice with a tie. For game one on three days’ rest, Reising went to the well one more time with Samano. Once again, he would be up to the task! Another complete game on the mound limiting the Red Hawks to three runs over seven innings en route to his third straight win giving up five runs over 21 innings.
The Jays offense once again drew first blood scoring one in the first, one in the second, adding six more in the third, and three in the sixth for the 11 to 3 game one victory. Offensive stars were many with Doc Nieznyecki leading the way with a double, two singles, and three Rbi. Eric Simon also had a double and two singles with a walk, driving in three runs.
Game two was all Blue Jays as they finished off the Red Hawks by a score of 11 to 2. Samano did not get the ball but caught and called a masterful game. Brian Kovar, the workhorse of the staff with 56 innings during the regular season, got the nod for the start. He went four innings, giving up two runs, with Mike Johnson closing out the final three. The Jays offense scored early and often, putting the game out of reach.
The Jays won their first 42+ Title in their 20th season!