MABL of Southern Wisconsin, 17+ Division
Sconnie Bar 3, Epic Bombers 0
Submitted by Ron Gatti, Sconnie Bar manager and coach
Sconnie Bar took home the trophy as 17+ Division champions in the MABL of Southern Wisconsin with a 3-0 shutout of the Epic Bombers in the playoff final at Monona, Wisconsin. Sconnie topped the Division during the regular season in hits, extra-base hits, and team batting average, which went up 58 points over last year.
Sconnie hitters were led by Mitch Kinnunen at .500, with five others over .400. Players returning from seasons 4-5 years ago (Henry Jacobs, Bobby Ehrlich) and new additions (Nick Bulanda, Matt Hanke, both tied for the team lead in triples) all contributed to the offensive surge. Leadoff hitter Kasey Kuchenbecker led Sconnie in OBP and stolen bases.
Pitcher Matt Ohm again was first in the Division for games, innings pitched, strikeouts, and fewest walks/7-inning game. Ohm threw 55 1/3 innings in 11 games, which was 73% of the team’s innings during the season and over twice that of any other pitcher in the Division.
In the post-season playoffs of the top four Division teams, it was pitching and defense that led Sconnie Bar to the title. In the first round, Sconnie played without four of their top six hitters, fielding only eight men due to injuries. They upset the #1 seed (Nightcrawlers) 1-0 in a nail-biter pitching duel, won by Matt Ohm against the Division’s hurler with the lowest ERA, Jesse Barron. Sconnie’s 8-man defense was flawless, and they put together the game’s only run in the sixth on two errors, a double steal, and a clutch RBI single by Tony Everard.
In the final round against the #2 seed (Epic), Sconnie again faced strong pitching, which gave up only one hit while striking out 10 Sconnie batters through five innings. Sconnie’s scoring again happened in the sixth, exploding with all three runs on a walk and clustered hits by Chris Detweiler, Everard, and Kuchenbecker, with Everard again knocking in the winning run.
That, along with perfect defense, was more than enough behind Ohm’s second complete-game shutout of the playoffs. Ehrlich, the team catcher in 2018, caught the championship game when our regular-season catcher was unavailable. In the championship game, Ramon Higareda, who has been the shortstop on this team for 19 years, played his last game before moving overseas…a fitting ending.
This was the second MABL championship for the Sconnie Bar team, who won it all in 2019 as Buckingham’s. They and Epic have faced each other in five of the six playoffs since this Division formed under MABL, with three times being in the championship game. Sconnie is already looking forward to defending their title in 2024!