Monday, August 3, 2015

Rebels Clinch Playoff Birth in Loss

In an interesting twist of fate, the Genesee Rebels got what they were looking for from the 2015 season when they lost to East Troy by the final score of 3-7 on Sunday. Despite the loss, the Rebels found themselves the recipients of a playoff spot thanks to an Oconomowoc loss to East Troy the day before. The Titans' loss gave them 8 losses on the year and guaranteed that the worst the Rebels would finish the regular season would be in 5th place. Hopefully that is not the case, however, as the Rebels' goal is to finish the season in 2nd or 3rd place, locking in a home playoff game on August 22nd in the process.

The game Sunday proved to be a frustrating one for the Rebels. A rock hard playing surface and gusting winds led to a season high 5 Rebels errors on the day. These errors, coupled with some timely defense and bit hits by the East Troy Express, and a ludicrous balk call would prove too much for the Rebels to overcome. The game was always within reach and was just as closely contested as the previous matchup on the season. Unlike the previous matchup, the Rebels could not capitalize with the big hits when runners were in scoring position and the Express did just that.

The game could have gone much differently had the first inning started out a little differently for the Rebels. Genesee loaded the bass with one out and were looking to break the game open right from the start. Lucas Bourassa ripped a grounder down the line which was stabbed by the Express third baseman who promptly stepped on 3rd and fired to first for a rally-killing double-play. The Reblels got on the board first in the 2nd inning when Chris Theisen led off the with a triple to right center and was brought in on a Dave Hellman sacrifice fly. That would be the first and only lead for the Rebels on the day as East Troy was able to capitalize on a phantom balk call in the bottom of the second. Apparently, once the pitcher steps off the rubber, he does not become a position player and must throw the ball to any base he makes an attempt towards. Regardless of the ludicrosity of the call, the Express were able to score the two runners who were awarded free bases and did score 5 more times unaided by the umpires. One call does not a game make, but it sure can make you scratch your head.

The game did have one thing that has never before been witnessed (at least according to our records) and could probably only ever happen while playing at East Troy. To lead off the 5th inning, Genesee's left fielder, Mark Switalski, laced a line drive back up the middle. The ball landed around second base and skidded into the outfield. Swit ran to first and was casually rounding the base when he saw the baseball appear to pick up speed as it careened over the rock-hard-outfield grass and skip underneath the center fielders glove. Now, under normal circumstances, this would amount to a one-base error and the runner would stop at second base. In East Troy, however, the center field fence is nearly in Waterford. After the ball bounced past the center fielder, it zipped merrily across the softball field (which, if you were wondering, is in play), bounced around the fence, and finally came to a rest about 75 yards from where the outfielder originally tried to play the grounder. Needless to say, Mark got on his horse, sprinted around second, lost his helmet going around third, and scored without a throw. It felt like a bunt scene out of RBI baseball. While the play was exciting and frustrating for a baseball purist and any pitcher to watch, it would be too little too late for the Rebels as it was one of their only hard hit balls on the day.

A bright spot for Genesee was the season debut of pitcher Derek Urban who spent the better half of his summer annoying little league players and parents with his consistently inconsistent strike zone and "take-no-BS" umpire attitude. He pumped through two innings of relief work allowing no earned runs and only one hit. We won't talk about the two HBP and one walk which prompted one well-hydrated East Troy faithful to ask "This your first time pitchin son?" The Rebels were glad to get Urban on the mound as he will be a key to the rest of their season.

If the season ended today, Waterford would get the automatic bid to the grannies, East Troy would hold the 2 seed and Genesee would have the 3 seed which would guarantee them at least one home playoff game on August 22nd. Burlington and North Prairie each sit with a record of 6-7 and Oconomowoc is close on their heels at 6-8. A win next week vs Dousman or the regular season finale at Waterford would lock up at least a 3-seed for the Rebels while they could still lose out and, by way of the tie-breaker of head-to-head and runs against, hold onto the 3-seed. A win would be much better.

The Rebels are back in action next Sunday, August 9th when they host Dousman for a 1:30pm start time. It's "Dollar Day" at the ballpark with $1 hot dogs. With 4 games left, the Frogs could still mathematically make it into the playoffs, so the Rebels know it won't be an easy game!

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