“Clear the mechanism…..”
Billy Chapel, Movie: “ For Love of the Game”
April 20, 2021
Every once in a while we get a great story to tell from the week on the diamond. This past weekend I was walking up to the To Shek field on Sunday and as I came closer to the Typhoons dugout I could see two of the biggest ear to ear smiles on the faces of Chris Unertyl and Jacob Flach’s father, Steve Flach. Jacob had just slain a dragon that very few pitchers do in TTBC, he beat the second place Buffaloes in an a game that left his team on a possible dramatic journey to the playoffs. In the previous 5 or so outings Jacob, one of Tai Tam’s premier aces, had struggled to sustain amazing speed and control. This Sunday he arrived and it all went right and he couldn’t have done it on a bigger stage against JBC in a game his team had to win. When it was over he would throw a 2 hitter and whiff 8 Buffaloes enroute to the Typhoons’ biggest win of the year. Congratulations Jake Flach on “clearing the mechanism”.
Some 2021 Changes to TTBC Record Books
This week saw some changes made in the Tai Tam History books. The first great achievement was Evan Wu who became TTBC’s career leader in RBI’s when he knocked in a couple of runs for the Eagles in a losing cause on Sunday. His RBI’s dropped TTBC Hall of Famer Zach Barney to #2 all time. Out in To Shek The Majors Eagles Andes Chai knocked in the “walk off” mercy rule run to become the new single season RBI record holder for the majors. Unfortunately for Andes, he would hold the record only three hours before Ethan Holland knocked in three runs in the night cap at To Shek for the Thunder to take the record for at least seven days……. Congratulations Evan, Andes and Ethan on making your way into the history books as there will be more history to come as we enter the final stretch to the 2021 Spring campaign.
The TTBC Teams around the Bay Area
Now around the Bay Area most of the teams were in action
Fresh from concluding the 8th Annual TTBC Spring Classic and crowning a new champion in the Pirates on April 9th over the Easter break, all TTBC Minors teams were back in HKLL action on April 11th. In a MLB-style schedule, each team played six games in a week! The kids loved it but a bit tiring for parents and coaches…
April 11th was also the start of the second part of the season for the HKLL Minors Division. The ten Minors teams were seeded after round-robin play and were split between an “Upper” bracket with six teams and a “Lower” bracket with four teams. The TTBC Eagles narrowly missed out in joining the other Tai Tam teams in the Upper bracket but odds-makers in Macau currently have them favored to take the Lower bracket.
Here is how our TTBC teams fared in their first two games of the second part of the Minors season.
The Eagles hosted the Lions of Kaakiro on April 11th in an exciting match-up that ended 3 to 5 for the birds.
The Eagles swooped early and lit up the Lions’ starting pitcher by posting the maximum five runs in the first inning. Good thing as well, as the high-flying Eagles would come back down to earth and not score for the remainder of the game. However, they managed to fend off a persistent attack by the Lions with solid pitching.
Gabriel Gusak got the call on the mound and earned the win. Charlies Tian and Simon Chen threw amazingly well in relief in what may have been their HKLL pitching debuts for the both of them with the latter picking up the save! The trio allowed three runs on three hits while striking out an impressive 16 batters.
The top of the Eagles line-up was productive, at least in the opening inning with each player crossing the plate. Gusak and Chen helped the cause by getting it done on offence as well, hitting and scoring.
The Eagles continued their good form in a clash dubbed: “The Battle of the Skies” when they were the visiting team against the Blue Jays. Eagles bats were hot as they collectively posted 11 hits. The final score: Eagles 14 – 8 Blue Jays.
Tian led the way with three hits. Oliver Barnes, Eli Bartell and Kleigh Kennedy picking up two hits apiece with the latter slugging a double and a triple – five total bases for Kennedy.
Gusak got the start and the win. Alexander Min, Chen and Barnes came in from the bullpen and the quartet allowed eight runs on four hits while striking out four.
Week one of the second Minors season saw the visiting Sharks up against the undefeated Korean Angels in a game that would go the full six innings. The Shark-attack was swift as the predators posted two early runs in the top of the first. The Angels answered with four of their own for a 2 to 4 score-line after one inning. Unfortunately, the usually hot Shark bats were challenged by Angels pitching as the game ended 2 to 8 for the Angels.
Ethan Lee started things off for the Sharks driving in Jack Simmons and moving around Henry Wolf. Wolf would eventually steal home for the Sharks’ two runs.
Lee also had pitching duties as he combined with Kingsley Wang and Briggs Freeman. The trio surrendered eight runs on nine hits whilst striking out nine Angels.
Week two saw the Sharks host the TTBC Typhoons in a defensive battle, at least for the first four innings… The high-powered offence the Sharks are renowned for left it late as they fell 7 to 2 to the Typhoons.
Wang toed the rubber and was relieved by Freeman, Lee and Ian Horng. The seven runs were allowed over eight hits with the foursome striking out six. The Sharks registered two hits on the day by Freeman and Wolf.
The second part of the HKLL season for the Typhoons had them pitted against the Pirates. The mighty Typhoons looked to end the Pirates’ eight game unbeaten run in HKLL league play after they narrowly lost to the Pirates, 5 to 6 in TTBC tournament play.
The Typhoons intensity as they struck early moving baserunners around after the first two batters drew walks. A couple of FCs (fielder’s choice) helped advance runners and score Taylor Gardner after David Wu put the ball in play. Unfortunately, that was all the Typhoons would get as the game ended: Typhoons 1 – 11 Pirates.
Gardner got the start and was relieved by David Weiss and Ken Ando. The three pitchers allowed 11 runs on five hits and struck out five Pirates.
The Typhoons bounced back in week two against the Sharks. As mentioned, that one ended 7 to 2 for the Typhoons but was a highly entertaining defensive battle that was 2 – nil for the Typhoons going into the fifth. That is when the game blew open when the Typhoons posted five. The Sharks came back with two but that was not enough.
Starter Gardner didn’t go the distance but went a long way as he tamed the Sharks’ strong offense. Weiss came in as relief as the pair allowed two runs on two hits, whilst striking out 11 batters.
Weiss got it done at the plate as well, and along with Connor Ackerman the two posted two hits apiece to lead the Typhoons’ offence.
As the Typhoons were still celebrating their win, news broke Ackerman would continue his baseball career across the pond in the United States. Rumors rife it was a tantalizing contract offer while some news outlets reported he was part of a blockbuster trade… details are still unconfirmed but regardless, TTBC would like to wish the Ackermans all the very best!
The Pirates finished in second place in the first part of the HKLL season with an 8 wins and 1 loss record. And fresh from capturing the 2021 TTBC Spring Classic Champions, the swashbuckling Pirates looked to continue their winning ways. They did just that with a 11 to 1 win against the Typhoons to start the second part of the 2021 HKLL campaign.
Takeo Blakely led the Pirates’ charge with multiple hits and scoring twice. Tommy Carale had a clutch at-bat when he singled to drive in two runs. Meanwhile, Taku Cheng recorded his first HKLL hit, building on a strong tournament performance.
After a shaky start walking two batters on eight straight pitches, Isshin Satake would eventually hunker down and neutralize any Typhoon threat. The lefty would go two and one-third innings to pick up another W. Speaking of W, Will “Lights Out” Talsness came in to relieve Satake in a dominant performance. The duo combined for a no-hitter and striking out eight batters.
In yesterday’s action, the seafaring bandits kept on sailing but did encounter some rough waters when the played the Shatin Martins. The usually composed Pirates allowed five runs in the first inning which proved to be a wake-up call. The bats did wake as they strung together 15 hits and scored 19 runs to dispatch the Martins: 19 to 5.
Satake got the call on the bump and was relieved by Blake Yang and Ryan Lem. The trio would collectively allow five runs on seven hits and striking out seven.
Offensively, Satake led the onslaught going 3-for-3 on the day. Blakely, Donovan Ma, Anyssa Yang contributed with multiple hits. Also notable was Connor Wang’s first hit of the season!
HKLL Minors Division action continues this Sunday (April 25th), week three of the second part of the season with some mouth-watering match ups! The Eagles look to continue their dominance of the Lower bracket by taking on the Astros. The Typhoons will be playing the JBC Swallows and in another inter-TTBC affair, the Sharks will host the Pirates.
Typhoons faced off against the Buffaloes for the 2nd time in 3 weeks. After dropping the previous contest 4-5, Typhoons came ready to play. The Typhoons’ defense was tight with 2 runners caught stealing at 3rd & a game sealing catch by Duncan Rach in the top of the 6th inning for the 2nd out, critically holding a runner at 3rd base. Adrian Unertl led the Typhoons offense scoring 2 runs & knocking in 2 RBI’s.
The Thunder beat the Dragons 20-8 Sunday. Dylan Burgess starts the game and threw two shut out innings striking out 5. The Thunder combined for 22 hits. Daniel Looram and Sebi Schroth went 4 for 4 while Aiden Kuo, James Gikas and Ethan Holland all had 3 hits. For the 2nd time in two week Ethan hit a ball off the wall but didn’t go out…so so close. But he did tally 6 RBI to lead the team. Next week up against the mighty Typhoons that pulled off an awesome win this week. We are all proud to have 3 TTBC teams on the top of the division.
The Eagles became the first majors team to clinch a playoff berth when they beat the Astros 10-0. Max Barney and Andes Chai were strong from the bump while Kai Shotaka put an exclamation point on his return from injury with a 3 for 3 performance from the plate. An Eagles win this Sunday and a Thunder win would mean the first time in history a two TTBC team have finished 1, 2 in any division. Two Typhoon wins and it would be the first time three teams from TTBC had finshed in the top four. A lot to watch in these last two weeks of the regular season..
The Eagles had yet another nail-biter and after jumping out to any early lead with clutch hitting and serviceable defense, one rough inning sunk the Eagles as they were outlasted 10-8 by the Astros in the season’s first official 7 inning game. The Eagles got a flurry of hits throughout the game including 2 doubles and a triple from Woochan Nam and the defense was highlighted by a SportsCenter-worthy play in left field by Damien Lee. The Eagles battled back late in late innings but came up just short in the final frame. The Eagles look to put the tough loss in the rear view mirror as they prepare for their playoff push.
The Stat Leaders
K Wang (Sharks) 18
T Blakely (Pirates) 17
B Freeman (Sharks) 17
I Satake (Pirates) 14
J Simmons (Sharks) 14
K Wang (Sharks) 16
B Freeman (Sharks) 14
T Gardner (Typhoons) 14
J Simmons (Sharks) 11
C Ackerman (Typhoons) 10
T Gardner (Typhoons) 47
B Freeman (Sharks) 41
D Weiss (Typhoons) 29
I Satake (Pirates) 27
B Yang (Pirates) 24
C Park (Eagles) 24
The Majors Stats
Holland 41 – New Majors Record
Chai 39 – New Majors Record
The Juniors Stats
Evan Wu – 19 –
Rohan Shah – 16
Woochan Nam – 16
Niki Hui – 15
Daniel Zhang – 14
Sean Nelson – 14
Evan Wu – 17
Niki Hui – 11
Rohan Shah – 10
Sean Nelson – 10
Kaes Carter – 10
Wochan Nam – 19
Evan Wu – 15
J Pederson -9
Daniel Zhang – 8
Rohan Shah – 7
This week will be a major week as the play-off picture comes into focus across the various divisions.
Let’s have another solid week and stay healthy!