It’s not whether you get knocked down its whether you get up!
May the Fourth, 2021
In the last ten years the Typhoons and the Eagles have gone on the field to play each other 119 times in the richest of the Tai Tam traditions. The Eagles who lead by a narrow margin of 61 – 51 – 7 have had some of the greatest games ever played. 67 of the games have been come from behind wins, 55 have been one run games and 16 have been decided in a walk-off in the final inning. In the play-offs or in the finals of tourneys the Typhoons lead the series 7 to 5 with four of those games coming down to the last at bat.
This weekend saw one of those epic games when the Juniors Typhoon and Eagles met at Lion Rock 2.
The Juniors Division
The TTBC Eagles and the TTBC Typhoons squared off again in a first round playoff match-up and together put on a show for the ages. Although the final score will simply read a narrow victory for the Eagles over the Typhoons, 16-15, the real story of the game as it will be etched in TTBC history is one of great drama and never-ending excitement and perhaps the greatest Typhoons – Eagles match-up of all time.
Not only did the game go the full 7 innings but it continued on through 9 innings as both teams see-sawed back and forth in the late stages with the Typhoons pulling ahead by one or two in the top half of the inning and then the Eagles clawing to stay alive in the bottom half. Both teams, on multiple occasions, were an out away from either victory or defeat. Amazing catches, timely hits, and daring base-running from both sides kept the coaches and spectators in heightened states of anxiety. Finally, in the bottom of the 9th inning, the pendulum once again swung momentarily in the Eagles direction and with two outs and the go-ahead run on third, veteran stalwart Kaes Carter ripped a single into left field bringing this youth sports epic to a dramatic conclusion.
The combined statistics will be stuff of TTBC legend. Get your calculator at the ready. There were 31 combined runs scored. 49 combined hits. The Eagles pitchers, Woochan Nam, Theo Simms, and Kento Yan threw a combined total of 174 pitches while Typhoons pitchers kept pace throwing a combined 176 pitches. 350 total pitches thrown in the game. A special hats off to catchers Evan Wu (Typhoons) and Rohan Shah (Eagles) who both caught every pitch for their respective team even after they both had played in a seniors game earlier in the morning.
Individually it was a bounty of statistics for both teams but the Eagles were led by 13 year-old Woochan Nam who had five hits including a towering shot over the left field wall for his first home-run (there will be others). Theo Simms also contributed 4 hits and reached base 6 of 7 times. Kaes Carter, Aaron You, Sean Nelson, Rohan Shah, Fred Ernst, and Rento Ishikawa all had multiple hits including many in clutch game saving situations.
Although memories of the individual stats will soon fade, this game of all games will be remembered as an epic athletic contest between two fighters, trading punches valiantly until the point of exhaustion. Only the two fighters happen to be neighbors, friends and classmates, both competing with pride and respect for their worthy adversary.
The Majors Division
Not since the 2013 Minors Eagles and Minors Typhoons have two teams dominated the HKLL the way the Eagles and Thunder did in 2021. For the first time ever TTBC finished 1-2 in any division and this year they did it in style (in 2013 the teams finished 1st -4th and lost only four games) If you take out the games against each other they lost a single game against other opponents in the season. A truly remarkable season for two truly outstanding teams.
This weekend in a game for pride with zero standing on the line the two played each other with the Eagles putting the finishing touch on their undefeated season with a 5 -1 hard fought win. The Thunder lost in spite of some excellent pitching from Ethan Holland and Dylan Burgess. Ethan Holland and Gus Ernst had the lone hits while Gus also made two great catches in center field. Max Barney lead the Eagles on the mound scattering two hits and picking up 13K’s. From the dish he was also dominate going 3 for 4. Michael Lee was also back on form knocking in two runs including the game winner with some clutch hitting. Both head into the playoffs this weekend with the hopes of playing each other again for the little league championship in two weeks.
In other TTBC majors action a playoff spot was on the line as the Typhoons faced off against the Astros in the final regular season game. Strong pitching from both teams resulted in 22 total strike outs on the day. Jacob Flach fanned 11, allowed 1 hit & walked 4 for an epic day on the mound. Typhoons led through the top of the 4th inning when 2 critical errors allowed 2 Astros to score. Defensive plays ruled the day to make this a low scoring affair. Typhoons 1 – Astros 3. The Typhoons will be the top seed in the second bracket this weekend when the playoffs begin.
The Minors Division
Week four of the HKLL Minors division concluded at Ho Man Tin West (HMTW) on Sunday with the dust settling and the playoff picture becoming a bit clearer. Still one game to play for the Pirates, Sharks and Typhoons in the Upper Bracket but some berths have been clinched. Meanwhile, in the Lower Bracket the high-flying Eagles looked to extend their unbeaten run to four games.
The mighty Eagles were the away team to the Kaakiro Lions and the Eagles came out soaring, posting the maximum five runs in the first inning. Leadoff hitter, Gabriel Gusak led the charge and would eventually score on a wild pitch. Oliver Barnes, Anthony Bacchus and Kleigh Kennedy contributed with hits on the day but that would not be enough as Kaakiro Lions had the last laugh/roar.
After the first inning, the Eagles’ offence was grounded except for one run in the third inning as the Lions clawed their way back into the game. Final score: Eagles 6 – 8 Kaakiro Lions. The Eagles are now tied for first with the Astros in the Lower Bracket.
Gusak started on the mound and was relieved by Alexander Min, Simon Chen and Charles Tien. The quartet would allow just two hits while striking out nine.
After suffering a shark-attack the previous week, the swashbuckling Pirates’ mettle was on full display at HMTW on Sunday. In the words of the one-hit wonder band, Chumbawamba: “I get knocked down, but I get up again; You are never gonna keep me down…”
Pirates took on the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Baseball Club (JBC) and with the hard fought victory, (and for the second time this season) the buccaneers of Tai Tam Bay punched their ticket to the championship game on 23 May at HMTW!
The Pirates will face the Angels of Korean Baseball Club (KBC), who are still undefeated in league play this season. The two teams have secured the top two spots but have one more game where they will be playing for pride… and home field advantage. When the Pirates and Angels played in November in their only meeting this season, the game ended 2 – 1 for KBC.
More to follow in the lead-up to the HKLL Minors Division Championship Game but now back to last Sunday’s action…
In an intense match-up, both the JBC Swallows and Pirates were fully aware a loss meant the difference between playing for 1st place or consolation in the finals. As they’ve done all season, the Pirates play all kids on the day – on this day, a 12-player roster against the usual nine-player squad of the JBC.
As fate would have it, it was the bottom of the Pirates line-up that would spark a five-run, 2nd inning rally that proved just enough to secure victory. With two-outs, Eugene Yan, Connor Wang and Luke Talsness loaded the bases and set the stage for “Big Texas” Tommy Carale, who hit a two-run single into center. That would bring the top of the line-up where the Pirates added another three runs.
The final score: Pirates 5 – 2 Yakult Swallows.
Isshin Satake got the start and picked up the W. Relievers Blake Yang, Will Talsness and Ryan Lem came in from the bullpen in an OP (over-powering) performance. The foursome allowed two runs on five hits whilst striking out 12 Swallows.
The Sharks took-on the Shatin Martins where a Sharks win would have made for interesting scenarios in terms of which team would play in the finals. But before that, the up-and-coming Martins had other ideas and instead, the birds of Shatin pulled off a last-bats, come from behind to tie with the final score: 8 to 8!
Sharks’ ace Briggs Freeman got the start but was relieved early on by Ethan Lee. Ian Horng also came in from the bullpen but it was Luke Murphy who came in to preserve the tie in what may have been an upset of biblical proportions.
The hard-hitting Sharks came out swinging as they normally do, posting three runs in the opening frame. Nine hits on the day for the Sharks with Lee getting it done at the plate registering two hits. However, the Sharks could not get things going until the fifth inning when they scored five, taking an 8 to 5 lead into the bottom of the inning.
The Martins managed to tie up the game and were going for the jugular (or Shark equivalent) as they tried to steal home for the go-ahead run. Heads-up play by the Murphy – Freeman battery caught the perpetrator to end the game at 8 apiece.
The Typhoons played host to the KBC Angels and tried to hand them their first loss of the season. Without key personnel, Typhoons had to dip into the player pool to make up numbers. The Angels are always tough but the Typhoons fought hard and cut a 10-run deficit to five when they scored five in the bottom of the third. But the Angels were relentless and continued to press: Angels 18 – 5 Typhoons was the final.
Taylor Gardner got the start on the bump with David Wu coming in as relief. Saul Friedman made his HKLL pitching debut late in the game. The trio combined to strike out five.
Leadoff hitter Gardner tried to spark his team with a two-hit performance but not to be outdone was “most improved player” candidate, Jason Zhu’s performance with two hits of his own and two RBIs to boot. Alas, it was not enough in a tough day overall for the Typhoons’ bats.
The CP Division
The CP Sharks continue to keep their slip lead atop the standings with a solid win over the Thunder by the score of 25-18. Coach Barry Freeman has his offense continually rolling along as they lead the CP division in total runs on the year with 130.
The CP Dragons are right behind the top of the pack as they remain a half game behind the Sharks with a strong performance over the Typhoons this week by a score of 22-13. Typhoons gave up runs in multiple innings in two-strike, two-out situations against the impressive lineup of the Dragons.
Only two games remain in the Coaches Pitch regular season before the playoffs start where anything can happen:
The Record Books
Max Barney was the newest record breaker as he took down TTBC hall of famer Jojo Mann’s seemingly untouchable record of 94 strikeouts that he had commuted weekly from Dongguan to achieve. Max achieved 96 this week to shatter the record.
More drama to come each week as Ethan Holland, Andes Chai and Max battle it out for the new season record for RBI’s, Hits and Strikeouts in a Majors season.
The TTBC Leaders
Takeo Blakely (Pirates) 24
Donovan Ma (Pirates) 22
Briggs Freeman (Sharks) 19
Taylor Gardner (Typhoons) 19
Kingsley Wang (Sharks) 18
Kingsley Wang (Sharks) 16
Takeo Blakely (Pirates) 15
Briggs Freeman (Sharks) 15
Taylor Gardner (Typhoons) 15
Jack Simmons (Sharks) 13
Taylor Gardner (Typhoons) 57
Briggs Freeman (Sharks) 48
Isshin Satake (Pirates) 43
David Weiss (Typhoons) 42
Blake Yang (Pirates) 33
Oliver Barnes (Eagles) 27
Chai 44 – New TTBC Record
Barney 42 – New TTBC Record
Holland 46 – TTBC Record
Chai 44 – TTBC Record
Barney 96 New TTBC Record
The Juniors Stats
Evan Wu – 26
Woochan Nam – 21
Niki Hui – 20
Daniel Zhang – 19
Rohan Shah – 18
Sean Nelson – 16
Evan Wu – 24
Niki Hui – 14
Kaes Carter – 14
Rohan Shah – 11
Sean Nelson – 11
Wochan Nam – 20
J Pederson -19
Evan Wu – 16
Daniel Zhang – 12
Rohan Shah – 7
Fasten your seatbelts this will likely be another exciting weekend of baseball for the TTBC clubs. The Juniors and Majors will see play-off action and the minors will close out the regular season.
Stay Healthy and cheer on your squads as we need a lot of wins this weekend.