Otters win 2020 crown in dramatic seven-game Series; Buxton’s miscue in final game leads to Otters 4-3 win

In what was the most competitive OAPBA World Series in the league’s 33-year history, Jonathan Stilwell’s Otters won their third league title in seven games, topping Craig Dolan’s Tsunamis with the most unlikely World Series finish in OAPBA history.

The entire Series was closely contested. Six of the seven games were determined in the final at bat, with three walk-off wins in the first four games. Home runs, which dominated play throughout OAPBA’s regular season, were plentiful, but not necessarily the determining factor in the games, with the Otters going long 10 times to the Tsunami’s eight home runs.

The Tsunamis, down three games to two in Game Six, battled back to tie the Series with a 7-1 win, the only game of the series that did not go down to the wire.  

And, in the finale, with Game Seven deadlocked at three runs apiece, a costly eighth-inning error by Tsunami Byron Buxton, led to an Otter run that proved the game-winner in a tight 4-3 win. 

Game 1   Otters 6, Tsunamis 3   Otter Jose Abreu hits 3R walk-off homer to win opener

The home team Otters jumped out to an early lead when Christian Yelich homered with Trea Turner on board in the first inning. The Otters added another run in the 4th on a Freddie Freeman double. The Tsunamis came back to tie the game, however, with solo home runs by  Corey Dickerson, Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rizzo in the sixth and seventh innings.

With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Mike Trout and Ketel Marte reached base and Jose Abreu, in for Freeman, homered off Tsunami reliever Will Harris to give the Otters a  6-3 walk off win and a 1-0 lead in the Series.

Tsu         3-9-0   L- Will Harris 0-1. HR Corey Dickerson #1, Nolan Arenado #1, Anthony Rizzo #1.

Otters    6-7-0   W Tyler Duffey 1-0. HR Jose Abreu #1. Christian Yelich #1.

Game 2   Otters 2, Tsunamis 1  Otters take 2-0 Series lead behind deGrom, Yates two-hitter

Game Two was dominated by Jacob deGrom, who threw eight strong innings with closer Kirby Yates finish the game to earn a save for a combined two-hitter. It was also Otter SS Trea Turner’s moment to shine, using his speed and power to record both Otter runs

The Otters struck right off the bat when Turner walked to lead off the game, stole second and third and then scored on a sacrifice fly. The Asians answered in the second when Mark Canha doubled and scored on an RBI single by Nolan Arenado. 

Tsunami starter Marco Gonzales and deGrom then settled down, but in the fifth, Turner got hold of a Gonzalez fastball and homered to give the Otters a 2-1 lead, which turned out to be all that deGrom needed, as he bore down to keep the Tsunamis off the board through the eighth, before giving way to Yates to finish the game.

Tsu         1-2-0   L- Marco Gonzales. 0-1.

Otters    2-4-1   W- Jacob deGrom 1-0. Sv Kirby Yates #1. HR Trea Turner #1.

Game 3   Tsunamis 6, Otters 5 (12)  Asians come from behind for extra-inning win

The action shifted to the Tsunamis home field with the Otters sending Lance Lynn to face Michael Pineda. 

The Otters drew first blood when Mike Trout homered to lead off the fourth. Trout’s blast was followed by walk and three single, scoring two more runs and giving the Otters a 3-0 lead.

The Tsunamis immediately answered in the bottom of the inning when Dickerson hit his second home run of the series, with two men on base, to tie the game at three apiece.

In the seventh, with two out, the Otters strung together three walks and a single to score twice and grab a 5-2 lead. However, a clutch ninth-inning, two-out  single from Tsunami CF Byron Buxton brought in two runs  to tie up the game at five and force extra innings. 

In the bottom of the 12th, the Tsunamis put together two doubles to win the game 6-5 and cut the Otters lead in the series to 2-1. 

Byron Buxton and Corey Dickerson were the hitting stars for the Tsunamis – Buxton was 4-6 with three extra base hits while Dickerson had a crucial three run home run and an RBI double.

Otters   5-7-0   L- Tyler Duffey 1-1. HR Mike Trout #1.

Tsu      6-10-0   W- Ken Giles 1-0. HR Corey Dickerson #2.

Game 4  Tsunamis 3, Otters 2  Tsu’s tie Series at two apiece on Dickerson RBI double in ninth

The Otters took an lead on solo homers from Ketel Marte and Yasmani Grandal. In the fifth, the Asians answered with a two-run rally keyed by a double from C Mitch Garver.

The score remained deadlocked at two apiece into the bottom of the 9th, with the  Asians bullpen holding the Otters hitless over the final five frames. 

In the bottom of the ninth, Trevor Story For the second straight game the Asians scored in the bottom of the final inning, Trevor Story tripled and then came home on a double by Corey Dickerson to give the Tsunamis a hard-fought 3-2 win and even up the Series at two games each.

Otters  2-4-2  L- Scott Oberg 0-1. HR Ketel Marte #1, Yasmani Grandal #1.

Tsu     3-6-0  W- Ken Giles 2-0.

Game 5  Otters 3, Tsunamis 2  Otters win in ninth on Trout’s RBI triple; take 3-2 Series lead

The Tsunamis scored first in Game Five, taking a 1-0 lead when Buxton led off the game with a single and came home on a Tim Anderson double. The lead changed hands in the fourth, however, when Freddie Freeman put the Otters ahead 2-1 with a two-run HR, but Tsunami 1b Anthony Rizzo homered in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 2-2

Both bullpens held firm through the eighth, with the Otters advancing runners into scoring position in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, but failing to score.

In the ninth, Otter Ronald Acuña led off with a single and, after the next two hitters were retired, Mike Trout tripled, scoring Acuña to put the Otters in front 3-2. Otters closer Kirby Yates then finished off the Tsunamis with a three and out  bottom of the ninth to earn the save and put the Otters to within a game of the 2020 OAPBA championship

Otters 3-7-0   W- Nick Wittgren 1-0. SV Kirby Yates #2. HR Freddie Freeman #!. 

Tsu     2-5-2    L- Hunter Wood 0-1. HR Anthony Rizzo #2.

Game 6  Tsunamis 7, Otters 1  Otters win in ninth on Trout’s RBI triple; take 3-2 Series lead

Play now returned to the Otter’s Frank Selee Field in Oshkosh with the Tsunamis Marco Gonzales and Otters Jacob deGrom matching up for the second time in the Series.

Otter Trea Turner led off the home first with a solo HR, but the Otter lead proved short-lived. 

In top of the third the Asians began a strong assault. With two runners on base, Buxton homered to give the visiting Tsunamis a 3-1 lead. Mitch Garver increased the lead to 4-1 with a homer in the fourth and Trevor Story doubled home a run in the sixth to make it 5-1 Nolan Arenado launched a bomb in the eighth putting the game out of reach in what was the first one-sided game of the Series. 

The Otters left 12 on base including eight runners in scoring position. The Tsunami win set the stage for a Game Seven, to decide the 2020 OAPBA championship.

Tsu   7-11-1  W- Will Harris 1-1. HR Byron Buxton #1, Mitch Garver #1, Nolan Arenado #2.

Otters 1-6-0  L Jacob deGrom 1-1. HR Trea Turner #2.

Game 7 Otters 4, Tsunamis 3  Buxton misplay in eighth gives Otters 2020 OAPBA championship

With the Series tied at three game apiece, the Tsunamis Micheal Pineda and the Otters Lance Lynn matched up for the second time.

The Asians drew first blood, scoring a pair of runs in the third on three singles and a sac fly. Otter Ronald Acuña quickly got a run back with a homer in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to 2-1. 

In the fifth Tsunami CF Byron Buxton singled, stole second and scored on a single by Luis Arraez to build the Tsunami lead to 3-1, where it remained until the seventh, when longtime Otter reliable Freddie Freeman got hold of a Will Harris offering to make it 3-2 in favor of the Asians. 

In the next bottom of the eighth the Otters Yasmani Grandal doubled and Ketel Marte singled home Manny Machado, running for Grandal, to tie the game at 3-3. 

What then followed is a play that will live in OAPBA all-time lore. With two-out and Marte aboard, Mike Trout lifted a fly ball to center field….and Buxton misplayed it, enabling Marte to come around and score, putting the Otters in front 4-3.

The Otter then once again trotted out their ace closer Kirby Yates, who retired the Tsunamis to give the Otters the win and 2020 championship. 

Tsu      3-9-1  L- Ryan Pressly 0-1. 

Otters 4-8-0  W- Aaron Bummer 1-0. Sv Kirby Yates #3. HR Ronald Acuña, Freddie Freeman #2.

Otters 2020 championship is third title for Furry Ones

Jonathan Stilwell’s Otters, given up for dead halfway through the second half after just missing a first half title, completed one of the most remarkable comebacks in OAPBA history Monday, Nov. 24, defeating Craig Dolan’s powerful Tsunamis 4-3 to win the 2020 OAPBA World Series.

The 2020 championship was the third league title for the Otters, who won previously in 2015 and 2018.

The 2020 World Series was the first in league play in the past four years.. The Otters have now been contenders for league titles in five of the last seven seasons, winning three championships and coming close, losing in the World Series to the Taz Devils and Beefers and 2014 and 2017.

Whats win three from Tsunamis to close out 2020 season

Craig Dolan’s slumping Tsunamis made the trek down to Whoville to take on the Whatever for last series of the 2020 OAPBA season. The Whats, completing a 20-game homestand, won three of four, to finish the second at at 22-18, two games behind the Otters. What reliever Hansel Robles notched three saves in the series

Game 1  Whatevers 4, Tsunamis 3

A three-run homer by Avasail Garcia off Tsunami starter Domingo German in the sixth propelled the Whatever to a 4-3 win. The Whats got the scoring started in the third on a RBI double by Charlie Blackmon. The Tsunamis took the lead in the top of the sixth on a RBI single by Mark Canha and a throwing error by Ozzie Albies brought in the go- ahead run. In the bottom half, Alex Bregman and Albies reached base, setting up the homer by Garcia. Justin Turner added a pinch-hit homer in the seventh off Jose Berrios to to pull the Tsus to within one, but Hansel Robles tossed two scoreless innings of relief to preserve the win.

Tsunamis     3-6-0   L-Domingo German. HR Justin Turner.

Whatevers   4-5-1   W-Jose Berrios 6-5. S-Robles 6. HR Avasail Garcia #4.

Game 2   Tsunamis 9, Whatevers 3

The Tsunamis, led by Nolan Arenado’s two homers, pounded out a 9-3 win to snap an eight-game losing streak.  Hunter Dozier went deep with one on in the second off Zack Greinke and the Asians kept adding on from there. Dozer added a RBI double in the fourth, Juan Soto drove one in with a double in the fifth. Arenado went deep with the bases empty in the sixth to make it 5-0. A two run homer by Alex Bregman off Marco Gonzales got it to within three for the Whats. After Greinke left, Matt Barnes came on, but promptly gave up a solo homer to Anthony Rizzo and, later, a two-run blast to Arenado to blow the game open.

Tsunamis      9-10-0   W-Marco Gonzales. HR Nolan Arenado  2 HR, Hunter Dozier, Anthony Rizzo.

Whatevers    3-9-1      L-Zack Greinke 8-4. HR Alex Bregman #23.

Game 3   Whatevers 4, Tsunamis 2

Homers by Ozzie Albies and Francisco Lindor helped Justin Verlander pick up a 4-2 win. What C Yadie Molina started the scoring with a RBI single in the second. Albies took Annibal Sanchez deep in the third. What OF Charlie Blackmon made it 3-0 with a RBI hit. Tsunamis scored two on a two-run homer from Max Muncy in the sixth but What SS Francisco Lindor’s solo shot in the bottom half made it 4-2. What relievers Brandon Workman and Hansel Robles shutdown the Asians for the last two innings to preserve the victory.

Tsunamis      2-5-1    L-Anibal Sanchez. HR Max Muncy.

Whatevers   4-9-0   W-Justin Verlander 4-5. SV- Hansel Robles 7. HR Ozzie Albies #6, Francisco Lindor #12.

Game 4   Whatevers 6, Tsunamis 4

The Whatever held off the Tsus in the finale 6-4. Anthony Rizzo started the scoring with a solo homer in the first off Luca Giolito but the Whats tied it on a RBI single by Whit Merrifield. Merrifield and George Springer added RBI singles in the second. Yuli Gurriel added a two-run homer in the fifth off Michael Pineda but the Tsus came back with three in the sixth on a three-run homer by Mark Canha to make it 5-4. Merrifield added a SF in the sixth and then the What bullpen took over to hold off the visitors. Hansel Robles picked up his third save the series.

Tsunamis     4-6-2     L-Michael Pineda. HR Anthony Rizzo, Mark Canha.       

Whatevers  6-11-1   W-Lucas Giolito 3-5. Sv-Robles 8. HR  Yuli Gurriel #11.

OAPBA seeking one manager for 2021 season

OAPBA has operated since 1988, making it one of the longest running leagues in APBA nation. The league has six teams for the 2021 season, with a vacancy for the Horde franchise, which entered the league in 2020.

Here are the basics:

Cost: About $20, the pro-rated cost of each season’s cards, which are distributed, by franchise and draft, to each league manager.

Roster: 35 players. 30 players are designated for the available roster, with 25 designated active for each four-game series. Five players are designated “developmental,” but can be called up at the halfway point (with an active player sent down). 

Season: 80 games consisting of two 40-game halves. Winners of each half meet in the OAPBA World Series. If a team wins both halves, the team wins the league championship with no season-ending series. 

Rules: Uses Master Game cards with minor modifications (e.g. error randomizer).

Draft: Held each January with last-place team drafting first and league champion drafting last. Each team must cut all but 17 players from its 35-player roster and replace in the 18-round draft. Each draft pool alternates between the NL and AL (NL in 2021). 

How long does a season last? 

Usually the season begins in February and completes in late October. At the end of each half, stats are compiled and leaders posted. At the completion of the season, a comprehensive Yearbook is compiled with a complete history of the season, including final stats. 

How long does four-game series require?

Normally a series requires about 2.5 hours, depending on how much scoring occurs in the series and how quickly managers make decisions during play. 

Contact either Rod Caborn, rcaborn@mac.com or Dave Larson, tazlarson@aol.com.