Otters stun Devils with four-game sweep; pull to within one game of second half lead.

In a series was marked by close games and a dramatic finish in the finale, the Otters stunned the Devils with a four-game sweep to move into contention in the second half pennant race with an 18-16 record with six games left. The Devils fell to 17-21 for the second half with two home-and-away series against the Otters and the Whatevers.

Game 1  Otters 3, Taz Devils 0 

Framber Valdez, Devils v. Chris Flexen, Otters.

Taz starter Valdez and Otter starter Flexen locked up in a pitcher’s duel. The lone run through 7 innings was scored on a walk to Ronald Acuna and then a double from Otter catcher Yasmani Grandal. Ketel Marte smacked a two-run homer in the 8th to make it 3-0. The devils had the bases loaded in the 7th and runners on 2nd and third in the 9th, but couldn’t get anyone across the plate.

Devils     0-4-0    LP- Framber Valdez 2-3.

Otters    3-5-1     WP Chris Flexen. Sv J. Loaisiga. HR. Ketel Marte.

Game 2  Otters 4, Taz Devils 1 

Gerritt Cole, Devils v. Jacob deGrom, Otters.

Jose Altuve homered in the 2nd to give the Tazzies an early 1-0 lead. They attacked deGrom with eight base runners through four innings, but only scored on the homer.

The Otters put together a rally in the bottom of the fifth inning with five hits, including doubles from Trea Turner, Lourdes Gurriel, and Corey Seager to take a 4-1 lead.. Both bullpens held from there.

Taz      1-10-0   LP Gerritt Cole 8-6. HR Jose Altuve #10.

Otters   4-7-0    WP – deGrom; SV – Loaisiga

Game 3  Otters 5, Taz Devils 3

Adam Wainwright, Devils v Jose Berrios, Otters.

The Otters struck first with RBI hits from Trout and Tucker. Then a HR from Grandal made it 3-0. But the Devils struck back in the top of the 4th when a walk, a HBP, a single followed by a triple from catcher Realmuto tied the score. Kyle Tucker’s 2nd double of the game brought home Freddie Freeman in the 5th to make it 4-3. The Otters added an insurance run in the 8th to make the final score 5-3. Andrew Chafin locked down the save.

Taz       3-6-1    LP Wainwright.

Otters   5-11-0   WP- Berrios. SV  Andrew Chafin. HR Yasmani Grandal.

WP – Berrios; SV – Chafin

Game 4  Otters 3, Taz Devils 2 (10 innings)

Lance Lynn, Devils vs Luis Garcia, Otters. 

Lynn and Garcia settled into a pitcher’s duel shutting down both offenses. When Devils SS Xander Bogaerts hit a solo homer in the fifth, it seemed like a significant lead. When the 9th inning came it was still 1-0. Then Devils CF Aaron Judge added an insurance run with his own solo shot. 2-0.

In the bottom of the 9th, Otters RF Kyle Tucker reached on a walk, stole 2nd, and moved to 3rd on a wild pitch. Next batter, Ronald Acuna, then homered to tie the game. The game moved extras. In the 10th Tucker settled the outcome with a home run, giving the Otters an unlikely victory.

Taz Devils    2-7-0    LP -Garrett Whitlock 4-1. HR Bogaerts #8, Judge #13.

Otters          3 -7-0   WP Jonathan Loaisiga. HRs – Acuna, Kyle Tucker.

WP – Loaisiga; HRs – Acuna, Tucker

LP – Whitlock; HRs – Bogaerts, Judge

The series leaves the Devils under .500. The Otters move to 18-16 with 6 games left to play.

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In memorium: Dave Larson

Dave Larson

June 15, 1954-Sept. 17, 2022

Dave Larson, one of the greatest managers in OAPBA (Orlando APBA league) history, passed away Saturday, September 17, 2022, in Orlando, Fla., after a decade-long battle with chronic heart problems. 

Dave was beloved and respected by everyone in the league. He was a positive person and a gentleman whose temper was always even keeled. He had a keen wit and, after retiring from a career in the flooring industry in 2019, embarked on writing humorous short stories for publication, many which were published by online fiction story sites.

A native of Illinois, Dave grew up in Galesburg, Illinois, where he attended high school and college. He moved to Tampa in the 1980s and, after attending the University of South Florida for one year for graduate studies, embarked on a career in the flooring industry, where he was in sales and marketing for most of his career, finishing with a variety of administrative management assignments in Orlando.

He was a lifelong baseball enthusiast and a passionate Chicago White Sox fan. 

Dave had a special interest in baseball’s Deadball Era. His interests were accentuated by his membership in the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR). His keystone article 1906 Chicago White Sox: a look at an underrated champion was published in SABR’s prestigious Baseball Research. Eleven years later, Dave teamed with league member Rod Caborn, to write 1906 Cleveland Naps: Deadball Era Underachiever, published in the Baseball Research Journal in 2012.

Dave entered OABPA in 1993 as an expansion entry. In only his third season in the league, his  Tasmanian Devils beat Bryant Applegate’s Metros in five games in the 1995 OAPBA World Series for his first championship, followed the next season by winning the OAPBA championship outright in 1996, winning both halves with a combined 50-30, .625 record.

He was a cornerstone of OAPBA, serving as the league’s commissioner for the league for the past two decades. In 2021, he revised the league’s rules to become more easily understandable, a monumental task, but one that was far overdue.

His OAPBA management style centered around speed. Dave consistently identified and cleverly drafted players that could deliver on the hit-and-run and always had a team that featured fast players whose baserunning abilities outshone the ability to hit home runs.

Altogether, Dave won seven championships during his OAPBA career, tied with Joe Passiatore, whose powerful Platoon teams also won seven titles before Joe retired from the league in 2013 after winning six championships in a row.

1995    Beat Metros (Bryant Applegate) 4-1 in World Series

1996    Won both halves (50-30 record) to win OAPBA championship outright

2000    Beat Joel Prinsell’s Highlanders 4-1

2003    Beat Merchantainers, managed by Walt Taylor, 4-1

2004    Beat Road Warriors, managed by Marc Bostrom 4-2

2017    Beat Otters, managed by Jonathan Stilwell, 4-2

2019    Won both halves (54-26 record) to win OAPBA championship outright

His Taz Devils also lost in three other World Series appearances 

2001    Lost to Joe Passiatore’s Platoon 4-3

2005    Swept by Walt Taylor’s Travelers 4-0

2011    Lost to Joe Passiatore’s Platoon II 4-1

In total, Dave had a lifetime record of 1341-1074, .555. In post-season play, Dave’s teams were 38-38, .500 record in post-season play in 29 seasons in OAPBA.

Dave’s Taz Devils teams won 50 or more games in a single season nine times, the most in league history, but only two of them were able to come away with championships.

2011    56-24, only to lose to Joe Passiatore’s Platoon in the ’11 World Series

2001    58-26, lost to Platoon in World Series

2003    56-29, won championship (no series)

2005    50-34, swept by Joe Passiatore’s Platoon in ’05 World Series

2009    56-30   lost to Platoon II in World Series

2019    54-26   championship (no series)

A testament to Dave’s skillful management was the fact that he had only five losing seasons in 29 years in the league. 

Dave will be remembered will be remembered with love and respect by all who had the privilege of working with him and, in particular, by those of us  in OAPBA, who sat across from him, cringing when he called for the hit-and-run that would go on lead to another victory for his beloved Tasmanian Devils.  

OAPBA’s origins revealed; a look into the past provided by Joel Prinsell

OAPBA launched its 34th season in February, but the story of how the league started and grew has always been somewhat vague. Thanks to one of the league’s four Founding Fathers, Joel Prinsell, we now know precisely when the league began and how it moved forward during its inaugural campaign. Here’s Joel’s account of the league’s startup:

On Feb. 24, 1988, thirty-three years ago today, or, if any of us want to feel even older — a third of a century ago, the Orlando APBA league commenced its inaugural regular season schedule.  

Attached for posterity are the scoresheets from the first two 2-game series played by the four original franchises – the Tourists, managed by Steve Lorman; the Platoon, managed by Joe Passiatore; the Metropolitans, managed by Bryant Applegate, and the Highlanders, managed by me.  (Sorry, but a few of the attached PDF pages might be upside down, sideways, etc.)

A couple of weeks before the opening games, the teams had held a 25-round snake draft, where Kirby Puckett was selected by the Metros with the first overall pick.

The Tourists won Game #1, 5-0, over the visiting Highlanders. Nolan Ryan (who’s he?!) threw a one-hitter with 7 K’s, with Jeff (?) Reardon pitching the last 2 outs. Mike (?) Scott took the loss. Ryne Sandberg was the league’s first whiff victim. Tony Gwynn was the first player to reach base (how fitting), with a BB (but was caught stealing by “Spanky” LaValierre).  Ozzie Smith had the league’s first hit (a single), the first SB, and scored the first run.  Robin Yount had the first error.  But the star of the game was Benito Santiago, who went 3-3, had the league’s first RBI (plating Ozzie), first extra-base hit (a 2B), and first HR. 

The Highlanders came back to win Game #2, the nightcap of the doubleheader, 6-1.

The next day, the Platoon swept the Metropolitans in Games #3 and 4, 6-5 and 2-1.  Although the Metros got off to a rough 0-3 start, they ended the regular season with the best record. 

Two or three years later, the Beefers, managed by Rod, and the Taz Devils, managed by Dave, joined the league, and the rest is history — the longest running APBA league. 

2022 OAPBA Second Half standings (Nov 24)

CumulativeWLPctGB
Whatevers2016.556
Otters1816.5291
Tsunamis1917.5281
Taz Devils1721.4474
Beefers1822.4504

It’s now a three-team race between the Whats, Otters, and Tsunamis!

Jonathan Stilwell’s red-hot Otters, now 18-16, have closed the gap to only one game behind Walt Taylor’s Whatevers, who continue to hang onto the second half lead with a 20-16 record .Tied with the Otters at a game behind are Craig Dolan’s Tsunamis at 19-17. The Otters have put on a remarkable surge, winning 10 of their last 13 games, to launch themselves into contention.

The Otters sweep of the Taz Devils knocked the Tazzies out of the second half race. dropping them into last place at 17-21, four games out, tied for the cellar position with the Beefers (18-22), whose season is already complete. The Devils have lost 11 of their last 15, suffering through an offensive slump that they’ve simply been unable to shake.

CumulativeWLPctGB
Taz Devils4236.538
Beefers 4238.5251
Whatevers3937.5132
Tsunamis 3937.5132
Otters3044.37110