The park has been closed for tonight due to rain. The KFL A-Finals will continue on Thursday night at 8pm, with the 37's holding a 1-0 lead in the Best of 5 Series
The KFL playoffs have narrowed the field to the final two – one quite familiar with this time of year, the other a fresh-faced newcomer. Will the 37s be able to topple the two-time defending champion Diamond Jaxx to attain KFL supremacy in just their second year in the league? A best-of-five Finals kicks off tonight to determine just that.
#2 Diamond Jaxx (23-4-1) vs. #6 37s (19-10)
The Diamond Jaxx punched their ticket to the Finals with little resistance, outscoring the Selects 21-2 in a brutally efficient semi-final sweep. Clearly, their offense is firing on all cylinders – though it didn’t really need to be given the dominant performances of pitchers Jeff Wise and Kevin Buckley. The Jaxx are playing with a comfort level befitting a team that’s been here before, as they look to replicate last season’s undefeated march through the playoffs. Their defense has been one of the KFL’s best for years, so if the 37s are hoping the Jaxx are going to beat themselves, they're in for a long series.
To this point in the postseason, though, the 37s have looked more than capable of giving the reigning champs all they can handle. After all, they just knocked off the top-seeded Bell Cartage Outlaws on the heels of sweeping the third-seeded Smoke. And they did so despite the adversity of falling behind 1-0 in a best-of-three series, edging the Outlaws 6-5 to even the series before exploding for a 9-5 win in the clincher. Ryan Mann went deep twice in the deciding game and, if youngsters like him and Ted Sebben can make major contributions on offense, the Jaxx pitchers will have their hands full. Mix in the masterful Dan Martin on the mound and all the elements for a potential upset are in place. If you’ve got the time, making the trip to Budd Park for this series will likely be well worth your while.
Season series: The 37s took the first meeting 14-1 and the Diamond Jaxx won 14-3 in the second.
- Mike Brown
The regular season champs, the two-time defending champs, last year’s runner-up, and a rising KFL power – these are the four teams still vying for the 2015 KFL title in what should be two very entertaining semi-final series.
#1 Bell Cartage Outlaws (24-1-2) vs. #6 37s (17-9)
The Bell Cartage Outlaws picked a very bad time to lose their first game of the season, falling 6-4 to the underdog Jays in a stunning game one of their quarterfinal match-up. But their reaction spoke volumes, as they won the next two games by a ridiculous 25-3 margin, decisively earning their place in the KFL semi-finals. They survived the series – and did so with Mel Ross, their primary inning-eater this season, missing for two of the three games. This remains a team with depth and immense talent, as shown by their lopsided win-loss record. As they seek to advance to their third KFL Finals in four years, the Outlaws remain favourites until proven otherwise.
That said, the 37s present an intriguing match-up. In their 2014 KFL debut, they made the playoffs before suffering a quarterfinal sweep at the hands of Bell Cartage. Bolstered by a few offseason additions, they’ve taken the next step in just their second season. Dan Martin, widely viewed as the league’s top pitcher, was one of those additions – and this semi-final pits him against his former squad. But let’s be clear: This is not a one-dimensional team. Young lefty Tim Wright kept the Smoke bats in check as they took game one of their quarterfinal series, 4-1. Travis Martin launched his fifth home run of the season in their 10-0 game two blowout, placing him among the league leaders despite playing in only 10 games. This was the league’s second-best offense in 2015, and they’ve won 15 of 20 since June 1. The Outlaws are the favourites, yes, but they’re in for a fight.
Season series: The Outlaws swept the season series, winning 8-3 and 3-1.
#2 Diamond Jaxx (21-4-1) vs. #5 Selects (17-10)
September’s been very, very good to the Diamond Jaxx. The two-time defending KFL champs continued their postseason dominance with a quarterfinal sweep of a talented Kings squad, winning 4-1 and 7-6. That sets up a rematch of last year’s Finals with the Selects, which likely suits the Jaxx just fine, given that they swept that best-of-five, took both meetings with the Selects this season, and are 6-2 overall in playoff meetings between the two teams. Their confidence entering this series should be soaring – and that’s a dangerous thing with a lineup this potent.
For their part, the Selects had to scratch and claw just to get to this point, coming from behind in their quarterfinal’s deciding game to edge the Classics 5-4, thanks to a game-winning, seventh-inning, RBI triple from Tom Allan. Selects’ ace Shayne Riepert delivered a gutsy relief effort, playing through a knee injury sustained the night before. But such drama is typical for the Selects – few teams have won as many postseason nailbiters as these guys. And if they're looking for inspiration, they need look no further than veteran catcher Kevin Ryrie. He played only a few innings in last year’s Finals before a collision at the plate ended his year, but enters this series healthy and hitting, going 6-11 in the Classics series. The Selects will need him to keep it up if they hope to dethrone the champs.
Season series: The Jaxx won both meetings this year, 4-1 and 4-0.
- Mike Brown
#9 Bulldogs (9-16) vs. #11 Predators (6-18-1)
The five-team 2015 B-side has been whittled to two familiar foes, with a best-of-three series set to hand out the hardware. After narrowly missing an A-side berth, the Bulldogs entered the postseason as the B-side favourites and they certainly acted like it last week, doubling up on the Thunder 6-3 in their semi-final. That victory has them in the B-side’s marquee match-up for the first time since 2010, which, incidentally, was the year of their last playoff victory against the Predators. These two teams have had very similar offensive output in 2015, so the Bulldogs will look to exploit their edge defensively – they’ve allowed 66 fewer runs than the Predators – to emerge victorious. Pitchers Corey Jackson, Zachary Pawley, Craig Miller, and Mike Dietrich will be key in that regard.
For the Predators, this is familiar terrain, marking their fourth consecutive appearance in the B Finals. The only problem? The first three yielded sweeps at the hands of three different opponents. The Predators will have to hope that experience will fuel a markedly different result in 2015. They already pulled one minor upset in the semi-finals, edging the Athletics 7-5, aided by a long ball from veteran outfielder Dan Gehl. If he can keep swinging a hot stick, they might just get over the hump for their first B crown since 2008, when they defeated – you guessed it – the Bulldogs.
Season series: The Predators won a pair of close meetings, 5-3 and 3-2.
- Mike Brown
With the folding of the Moonshiners over the offseason, the KFL’s B-side crown is guaranteed a new owner this year. For the four teams still in the running, it would be a nice way to cap the 2015 season.
#9 Bulldogs (8-16) vs. #12 Thunder (6-19)
The Bulldogs enter the postseason as the B-side’s top seed after looking poised to stay on the A-side for the first half of the year. But they’ve limped into the playoffs, winning just one game since June and losing seven straight to end the season. The Bulldogs boast a balanced lineup, led by the likes of Leighvi Batte and Andrew Detzler, and they have a number of serviceable throwers, including Corey Jackson and rookie Zachary Pawley. If they can return to their early-season form, they could potentially run through these playoffs undefeated. If not, it could be another short second season for a squad that hasn’t reached the B Finals since 2010.
Standing in their way is the very team that ended their season in last year’s quarterfinal, the Thunder. They’ve already got a postseason victory under their belts, knocking off the Red Sox 7-4 in the 12-13 match-up, and are one upset away from their first-ever B Final. After a tough campaign in which they rarely had their full squad at their disposal, you can bet they’re welcoming the chance to make 2015 their most successful postseason to date. And if they can put everything together, the Thunder are a tough out, as shown by their regular season sweep of the 37s and the scares they gave both the Classics and Selects. If one of their pitchers can get hot and keep their opponents off the scoreboard, they are certainly capable of notching the upset.
Season series: The Bulldogs won both meetings this year, 9-4 and 6-2.
#10 Athletics (7-17) vs. #11 Predators (5-18-1)
In the midst of a nine-game midseason skid, things were looking pretty dire for the Athletics’ first season in the KFL, but they managed to right themselves with three wins over their final six games. Three more wins would give them a pretty successful inaugural campaign – and they’ve got the personnel to do it. Shortstop Brandon Viol has recovered from knee surgery in time to anchor the Athletics on both sides of the ball, while the likes of Bryce Good, Lukas Linde, and Dean Clement have provided ample support. Now, they’re looking to ride the B-side’s best offense (4.29 runs/game) right to the B Finals.
Their semi-final opponent, the Predators, are easily the most experienced squad on the B-side. Of the four teams still in the running, they’re the only one who have won a B crown in the last decade (2008) and they’ve advanced to the B Finals for three straight years (2012-2014). To this point, 2015 has been a down year for the Predators, but the absence of their staff ace, Mark Kelly, for more than half the season could be part of the reason. If he’s able to make a meaningful September contribution, that could be a difference-maker as the Predators look to advance. And whoever survives this one-game semi-final has an excellent opportunity to finish the season on a winning note, with a KFL B-side Championship.
Season series: The Athletics won the first meeting, 16-3, and the Predators took the second, 9-5.
- Mike Brown
|Bell Cartage Outlaws||24||22||0||2||46||0.917|
|Ryan Ferber||Diamond Jaxx||8|
|Chris Balsdon||Red Sox||6|
|Vice President||Mike Brown|