The fall 2016 major division championship series paired two of the more successful teams in recent history. With the CBA Tigers, fresh off a championship loss in the 2016 spring season, and the Platoon, who won the PCBL's version of the Black Sox scandal last year, the weekend was sure to be full of great baseball.
Saturday marked game 1 between the #2 seeded CBA Tigers and the top-seeded Platoon. It was a perfect day for baseball, sunny with a light breeze at Conejo Creek, and both teams were ready to go.
With David Lira set to start for the Tigers, their offense got things started in the top of the 1st against Platoon's Bobby Martinez. Ivan Gonzalez led off with a hit by pitch, and Jorge Villalobos followed 2 pitches later with an rbi double, giving the Tigers an early a 1-0 lead.
Platoon responded in the bottom of the 2nd. Steve McGrath led off with a hit by pitch. Robert "Boots" Reeves Jr walks, and McGrath eventually scores on Anthony Gallo ground out, tying the game at 1-1.
From there, both Lira and Martinez settled down and put up inning after inning of no-run baseball.
The Tigers threatened in the top of the 4th. After 2 quick outs, Jamie Dorado and Danny Vega each singled, and
Carlos Ochoa reached on an error to load the bases. But Platoon got out of it with a ground out to third, leaving the score tied 1-1.
The Tigers finally broke through in the top of the 8th. Tony Cabrera reached on an error to start things off. Jerry Perez Jr. doubled and Danny Vega walked to load the bases, setting the stage for a hero. Carlos Ochoa liked that idea, and doubled in all 3 runs to take a late 4-1 lead.
The Platoon tried to make a game of it in the bottom of the 9th. Steve McGrath walked and Boots singled. McGrath scored on a ground out, but that's all the offense Platoon would put up and the Tigers win game 1 by a score of 4-2.
CBA Tigers 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 4 8 1
Platoon 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 5 2
Ivan Gonzalez - 2-4, R, HBP
Jerry Perez Jr. - 2-4, R
Danny Vega - 1-3, R, BB
Jorge Villalobos - 1-4, RBI, BB
Tim LeSuer - 1-4
Jeff Bezjian - 1-3, SACB
Steve McGrath - 0-2, 2R, BB, HBP
With rain looming in the forecast, Sunday had a completely different feel than Saturday. Despite the damp conditions, El Cariso was in good condition for the second day of the championship series.
This time, Platoon got things going early against the Tigers' Victor Banuelos. In the top of the 1st, Chad Avena walked and Sean Proni singled. Steve McGrath singled home Avena to take an early 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Tony Cabrera singled off Platoons' Kyle Raskin, but is erased by a Jerry Perez Jr's fielder's choice. J.C. Barker doubled home 1, and Angel Vega walked. With 2 outs, Jamie Dorado singled home another to take a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the 4th, J.C. Barker doubled and scored on Jamie Dorado's 2-out single, extending the Tiger lead to 3-1.
With their backs against the wall, Platoon needed to score some runs to keep their season alive. In the top of the 5th, Eddie Knips doubled and Kyle Raskin doubled him home. With 2 outs, major-division MVP Tim LeSuer singled home Raskin to tie the game 3-3.
Fast forward to the top of the 8th, when the Tiger's brought veteran hurler Mike Soto in. This was the break the Platoon were looking for, and the middle of their lineup came through. Four straight singles by Tim LeSuer, Sean Proni, Steve McGrath and Sal D'Angelo plated a pair of runs. Boots grounded into a fielder's choice, and Jeff Bezjian doubled home 2 more. Eddie Knips hit a ground ball to short and reached on an error, bringing home another, and Anthony Gallo doubled him to 3rd. The Tigers finally managed to stop the bleeding, but not before 5 runs scored and Platoon took an 8-3 lead.
With the momentum clearly in Platoon's favor, they held on to even the series at one game a piece and force a winner-take-all game 3.
Platoon 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 5 0 8 15 3
CBA Tigers 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 1
Tim LeSuer - 2-5, R, RBI
Sean Proni - 2-4, R, BB
Steve McGrath - 2-4, R, 2RBI, BB
Sal D'Angelo - 2-5, RBI
J.C. Barker - 3-4, 2R, RBI
Tony Cabrera - 3-4
Jamie Dorado - 2-3, 2RBI, SB
Victor Banuelos - 7IP, 3ER, 5H, 4K, 4BB
With cold temperatures and a steady light rain hanging over the field, game 3 would belong to whichever team could beat both their opponent and the weather man. As expected, it would be another pitcher's duel.
With Jonathan Boersma on the mound for Platoon, Jerry Perez Jr singled to lead off the 2nd inning. With 2 outs, Angel Vega singled him to 3rd, but the Platoon escaped the jam. Boersma settled down and started cruising after that.
Meanwhile, Tony Cabrera was throwing a gem for the Tigers. Platoon managed only 4 hits against him through the first 6 innings.
In the top of the 6th, the Tigers' Ivan Gonzalez reached on an error, and Carlos Ochoa sacrificed him to 2nd. With 2 outs, Tony Cabrera singled to center, but Platoon's center fielder threw a strike home to nail Gonzalez at the plate and keep the game tied 0-0.
The Tiger's went to their bullpen and brought in Ivan Gonzelez in the bottom of the 7th, and just like in game 1, the Platoon attacked quickly. Steve McGrath and Sal D'Angelo led off with back-to-back singles. Boots walked to load the bases, and Jeff Bezjian singled home the game's first run. Anthony Gallo singled home a pair, and Kyle Raskin put down a perfect sac bunt for home another. Chad Avena and Tim LeSuer knocked in 2 more on back-to-back singles, and after Sean Proni singled to load the bases again, Steve McGrath knocked in one last run with a fielder's choice. With 6 outs to go, Platoon held a commanding 7-0 lead.
CBA Tigers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 6 0
Tim LeSuer - 4-4, R, RBI, SB (Series MVP)
Sal D'Angelo - 2-4, R, SB
Anthony Gallo - 2-4, R, 2RBI
Steve McGrath - 1-3, R, RBI, BB
Tony Cabrera - 2-4, R
Angel Vega - 2-4, RBI
Jorge Villalobos - 1-4, RBI
Robert De Santiago - 0-3, R, BB
Tony Cabrera - 6IP, 0R, 4H, K, 0BB