The 2015 season came to an end for the Genesee Rebels on Sunday afternoon when they ran into an East Troy Express team who were wearing their hitting shoes. The express took advantage of a small strike zone and a tired pitching staff to knock out 23 hits on the day en route to a 17 run performance that would prove too much for the Rebels to overcome. Despite the fact that the Rebels jumped out to an early lead, the heavily favored Express stayed calm and chipped away until they took the lead for good in the 4th inning. The win means that East Troy will join Waterford as the Southwest representatives for the 2015 Grand Championships and the loss leaves the Rebels looking forward to next year.
The Rebels jumped on the Express right away in the first inning. Matt Bauer led off with a single and was followed by back-to-back walks. With the bases loaded, Andy Sturtevant blooped a single over short and was followed by a Bourassa sac fly. Chris Theisen then ripped a line drive off the firstbasemen's glove and Aaron Dolan snuck a double just inside the left field foul line. The Express then made an uncharacteristic throwing error when the catcher overthrew the pitcher on a walk which allowed Theisen to walk home. When the third out was finally recorded, the Rebels had pushed 5 runs across. Momentum was on their side.
Keith Koehn took the mound for the Rebels and put down the side in order in the bottom of the first. And recorded back-to-back strikeouts to start the second before allowed two doubles in a row which brought the first East Troy runner across the plate. The third inning saw the Express string together four singles and plate two more runs. The Rebels, on the other hand, could not take advantage of the early lead. They stranded 5 runners in scoring position between the 2nd and 4th inning. The lack of clutch hits would prove to be their undoing as the Express would put together 4th and 5th inning rallies to plate 8 runs and tally 13 hits before Koehn was done.
The Rebels pitching staff was a bit shallow this year, but it really didn't affect them until the Saturday / Sunday format of the playoffs. With Koehn not having his best stuff, the Rebels gave the ball to Matt DeMarais who had pitching a 9 inning complete game the day before. DeMarais got out of the 5th inning and allowed only one run over the 6th and 7th to keep the Rebels close, but the juice finally ran out in the 8th when the Express added 5 more runs to their tally, putting the final nails in the Rebels' coffin.
Offensively, the Rebels scored 9 runs on the day, which SHOULD be enough to win a game, however, they easily could have scored many more. The Rebels stranded 7 runners in scoring position on the day and, other than an Elliot bomb in the 6th, didn't have anything to show for their work until the 8th. In the 8th, DeMarais led off with a double down the left field line and scored on a Keith Koehn double. Bourassa then laced a two-out single which brought in two more runs before the inning ended. Despite their lack of two-out-RBI's, the Rebels had clawed back to within 3 runs heading into the bottom of the 8th. Unfortunately for them, the Express would not stop.
Despite the loss, the Rebels ended the season on a high note. Genesee was a bit of a wildcard at the start of the season with the retirement of long-time skipper Mark Wershay, but, after a rocky start to the season, the Rebels got it together and put together one of their more successful seasons in recent years. The third place finish is their best since a second-place tie in 2009. Genesee beat every team in the division except Waterford at least once. The Rebels are also set up nicely for the future with a solid core of veteran players along with the addition of some key players who should contribute for years to come.
The Rebels will hold their annual Home Run Derby on Thursday evening. It may not be that exciting as the team only tallied 3 bombs for the entire season, but there is sure to be a good amount of heckling. Stay tuned for breakdowns of individual players and other team records and stats as they become available.
Good luck to Waterford and East Troy who play their first round games this coming Saturday. Waterford will host Pewaukee which sets up a potential matchup with Pewaukee pitcher Henschel who spent the last few years in the Southwest. East Troy will head to New Berlin. While the Rebels missed out on the Grannies this year, they have their sights set high for 2016.