2013 Champions, Diamond Jaxx
2013 Finalists, Bell Cartage
The 2013 KFL season came to a close on Monday night, culminating with one of the best series in league history. The Diamond Jaxx and Bell Cartage each swept their way to the Finals with relative ease, with the Jaxx disposing of the Smoke and Kings along the way, while Bell knocked off the Classics and Selects. But with the championship on the line, nothing would come easy. The series went the full five games, with two games going to extra innings and all five of them decided by two runs or less.
The Diamond Jaxx drew first blood in a game one pitcher's duel between Doug Hoffman and Dan Martin. After neither team managed to score through seven regulation innings, Jason Farrelly won it for the Jaxx with a walk-off RBI single in the the eighth, giving the Jaxx a 1-0 series lead. Runs would be similarly hard to come by in game two, as Mel Ross threw a complete game shutout and Mike Lorentz stroked a two-run single to beat Kevin Clugston 2-0 and even the series at one game apiece.
Both teams went back to their game one starters for game three, and Bell looked poised to reverse the result, leading 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. But Ryan Ferber had other ideas, hitting an RBI double on an 0-2 pitch to tie the game at one and send it to extra innings. The Jaxx would go on to seize the series' momentum, winning an epic 11-inning battle, 4-3. Ross and Clugston again got the nods for game four, with a similar result - a two-run victory for Bell, 6-4. Derek Martin homered for Bell.
And so it all came down to one game, with the KFL crown and a 2014 ISC berth hanging in the balance. Hoffman and Martin once again toed the rubber and fans were again treated to a pitcher's duel. The game entered the sixth inning knotted at one apiece, before Chad Macqueen went yard to break the deadlock, vaulting himself into sole possession of the 2013 KFL home run title in the process (breaking a tie with Martin, the very man who delivered the pitch). Hoffman closed the door in the seventh, earning his third win of the series and securing the Jaxx their first KFL title since joining the league in 2008.
Congratulations to both squads on tremendous seasons, and best of luck to the Jaxx as they prepare to be one of the host teams for the 2014 ISC World Tournament.
- Mike Brown
The semi-finals ended last week with a pair of sweeps, leaving the Diamond Jaxx and Bell Cartage as this year's KFL finalists. Starting tonight at 8:00, they will do battle to determine who will be crowned as the league's best in 2013, a title that carries with it a berth into the 2014 ISC World Tournament and the distinction of being the event's second Host Team.
#1 Black Division vs. #2 Red Division
Diamond Jaxx (18-3-2) vs. Bell Cartage (16-5-2)
The Diamond Jaxx and Bell Cartage have been on a collision course since the playoffs began, each cruising through the postseason unblemished. After securing their second straight regular season divisional title, the Jaxx arrive on the season's biggest stage having swept the Smoke in the quarterfinals and outscored the Kings 11-1 in the semis. In that series, Doug Hoffman struck out 17 in a game one win, while Will Peirce showcased his defensive skillset behind Kevin Clugston in a 5-0 game two shutout. Ryan Ferber and Warren Williams both went yard in the series, giving the Jaxx five players with home runs in the postseason. They'll need that kind of offensive balance if they're to beat Bell Cartage three times.
In defense of their 2012 title, Bell has looked even more dominant this time around. They've won eight in a row dating back to early August, including comfortable sweeps of the Classics and Selects in which their slimmest margin of victory was 7-1. After clubbing their way past the Classics with 23 runs in two games, the pitching staff carried the load in the Selects series, with Jeff Wise, Mel Ross, and Dan Martin combining to allow just six hits over two games. Martin also went deep twice in the clinching game of that match-up, giving him a ridiculous seven dingers in just nine games played this season.
Only three players in the KFL have seven round-trippers in 2013 and two of them - the aforementioned Martin and Jaxx shortstop Chad Macqueen - represent their respective offense's biggest threats in this series. The storylines don't end there, either, as these squads put up remarkably similar numbers on the season; the Jaxx outscored opponents 113-53, while Bell beat theirs by a 115-57 margin. Their lone meeting of the season even ended in a scoreless tie, with Macqueen and Ross both tossing eight-inning gems. All signs point to an entertaining climax for the KFL's 2013 campaign, as Bell looks to repeat and the Jaxx try to topple them for their first KFL crown.
Playoff history: This marks the fourth playoff encounter between these two teams, with history decidedly in the defending champs' favour. In both 2008 and 2011, Bell dropped the Jaxx in the quarterfinals and, just last year, they beat them two games to one in the semis. This marks the first time the teams will do battle with the championship on the line.
- Mike Brown
With the final quarterfinal series coming to a close on Tuesday night, there are only four teams remaining in the quest for the title of 2013 KFL Champions. Tonight, the semi-finals kick off as we look to narrow the field to its final pairing. At 7:00, the Diamond Jaxx and the Kings do battle, followed at 9:00 by the Selects and Bell Cartage.
#1 Black Division vs. #4 Black Division
Diamond Jaxx (16-3-2) vs. Kings (11-10-1)
Tonight marks the third meeting between the Diamond Jaxx and Kings in under a month, but Kings fans are hoping the script is markedly different than the last two, a pair of lopsided 9-0 late-season wins for the Jaxx. There is, however, one crucial difference about tonight's contest: it's the postseason. In their six-year KFL history, the Kings have lost just two playoff series, compared to nine wins. Already in 2013, they've pulled one notable upset, knocking off the Jays, last year's finalists and this year's overall top seed. The Kings' formula for postseason success is simple: keep the scores low and eke out a run here or there. They executed it to perfection in the quarterfinals, winning 2-1 and 1-0 after dropping the series opener 3-1. Greg Hammell threw a shutout in the deciding game and both he and Nick Laurette will have to keep tossing gems if the Kings are to pull off another upset.
The Jaxx needed fewer theatrics to punch their ticket to the semis, dropping the Smoke in two straight. Their offense erupted late to pull away in a 9-3 game one win and they used home runs from Pat Graham, Chad Macqueen, and Bryan Reeve to complete the sweep in game two, a 4-3 win. Macqueen continues to mash, his latest long-ball giving him seven on the season, and the Kings would be wise to make someone else beat them. Unfortunately for them, plenty of Jaxx are well equipped to do just that. If the offense can produce some runs, Jaxx pitchers Kevin Clugston and Doug Hoffman should be able to keep the Kings hitters at bay, and the Diamond Jaxx may just find themselves in the finals for the second time in their six-year history in the league.
Ultimately, the pressure here is all on the Jaxx. They enter the series as the clear favourites and they possess the firepower to win it convincingly. But the longer the Kings can hang around, the more dangerous they'll become. If the Jaxx aren't careful, someone like Kings' slugger Matt McLaren could end an otherwise successful season with one swing of the bat.
Playoff history: The Kings and Jaxx have one previous postseason meeting and it was a series for the ages. After the Jaxx won the first two games of the best-of-five 2009 A final, the Kings stormed back to win three straight and nab their only A title to date. Neither team has returned to the championship since, a streak that will end for one of them this year.
#2 Red Division vs. #2 Black Division
Bell Cartage (14-5-2) vs. Selects (14-8)
Let's be blunt: Bell Cartage is the team to beat. The defending champs are making their fifth foray into the semi-finals in six years, and they enter it playing their best ball of the season. They've won six straight games, having just manhandled a very good Classics team in a quarterfinal sweep, 12-3 and 11-2. The offense is clearly firing on all cylinders, with a lineup dotted with deep threats like Tim Dubois, Dan Martin, Corey Tinline, and Corey Way. To make matters worse for their opponents, Bell has a deep and talented pitching staff with Martin, Kevin Buckley, Mel Ross, and Jeff Wise.
The unenviable task of toppling the Bell powerhouse falls to the Selects, who bookended a forgettable 7-0 loss with a pair of well-played wins - 4-3 and 4-0 - in their quarterfinal tilt with the Moonshiners. Though they lost their only match-up with Bell this year, 8-3, the Selects have peaked at the right time, winning seven of their last eight. And they're no stranger to fall ball, making their seventh semi-final appearance in the last eight years. To pull off the upset, they'll need Kevin Ryrie to continue his hot hitting - he went 6-10 with three runs in the quarterfinals - and get some support from the rest of the lineup. Shayne Riepert was dynamite in the Selects' quarterfinal victory, allowing just three runs on nine hits in 17 innings, while striking out 24. If he and fellow hurlers Scott Clark and Chad Fink can keep Bell's bats in the ballpark, the Selects will have a chance.
Playoff history: Bell Cartage and the Selects only playoff meeting came in the 2008 semi-final, a tightly contested affair in which each game was decided by two runs or less. Bell won that meeting, two games to one, but if this year's match-up proves anywhere near as compelling, KFL fans are in for a treat.
- Mike Brown
2013 B-Side Champion Razorbacks
2013 B-Side Finalist Predators
In their inaugural season in the KFL, the Razorbacks stormed through the playoffs en route to the B title, defeating the Predators in consecutive games. After winning a 10-9 slugfest in game one, they showed their versatility in a game two that remained scoreless until the fifth inning. Finally, catcher Andrew Mathies broke the deadlock with a three-run home run, his fifth of the season. He then added a two-run triple and Rod Fevreau did the rest, tossing a complete game shutout for the series-clinching 6-0 win.
After losing nine of their first ten, the Razorbacks went 8-3-1 down the stretch – including the sweep of the Predators and a 7-1 win over the Bulldogs in the B semis – to signal that they're a real threat to crack the A side in 2014. Meanwhile, after knocking off the Thunder 3-2 and the Phillies 7-5 to reach the B finals, the Predators will have to settle for falling just shy of the B-side crown for the second straight season. Congratulations to both teams on an entertaining series.
- Mike Brown
Editor's Note: The B-side of the 2013 KFL playoffs are moving right along - so quickly, in fact, that we didn't have a chance to preview the B semis. Here, nonetheless, is a look at the two teams that have survived the unforgiving single-elimination blitz that is the B-side postseason.
#5 Red Division vs. #6 Red Division
Razorbacks (7-12-1) vs. Predators (8-13)
Just one point separated this year's B-side finalists in the regular season, but that point was enough to give the Razorbacks a bye to the semis, where the well-rested squad disposed of the Bulldogs with relative ease, 7-1. That win continues an upward trajectory for the KFL's newest team, following a forgettable entrance to the league that saw them lose nine of their first ten. Since then, they've played very respectable ball, going 6-3-1, including wins over A-side contenders such as the Kings and Bell Cartage. The Razorbacks' success has been aided by the emergence of battery mates Rod Fevreau and Andrew Mathies. Fevreau is a crafty veteran with a deadly change-up and decades of experience in the art of getting hitters out, while Mathies sits on the other end of the age spectrum. In just his second season of men's ball, the young catcher finished in a tie for third among the KFL's long-ball leaders with four round-trippers. If the Razorbacks are to secure some hardware in their inaugural campaign, that duo will likely have something to do with it.
On the other side of the diamond, the Predators are looking to spoil the Razorbacks' feel-good finish. They edged the Thunder 3-2 in the quarterfinals, then awoke their offense in a 7-5 semi-final win over the Phillies, the defending B champions. That win was extra sweet, as the Preds exacted a measure of revenge for their loss in last year's B final. Indeed, this stage is becoming very familiar territory for the Predators, who are making their fourth B-side finals appearance in eight years in the league. If they're to convert upon that opportunity with their first B-side title since 2008, their pitching will be crucial. The teams split a pair of low-scoring games in the regular season, with pitchers Mark Kelly and Dan Mullin taking MVP honours in a 3-0 win and a 2-0 loss, respectively. No matter the outcome, all signs point to a competitive B championship.
Playoff history: This is the first postseason meeting between the Predators and the Razorbacks.
Game 1: Thursday, August 29 @ 9 p.m.
Game 2: Tuesday, September 3 @ 7 p.m.
Game 3: Thursday, September 5 @ 8 p.m. (if necessary)
- Mike Brown
|Chad Macqueen||Diamond Jaxx||8|
|Dan Martin||Bell Cartage||7|
|Vice President||Grant Mitchell|