Hoboken, NJ – The stage was set; a championship showdown between Madd Hatter and top seeded (and undefeated) Louise & Jerry’s. To get here, Louise & Jerry’s posted an incredible +93 run differential for the regular season. Eight games. That means they steamrolled their way through the season with an average margin of victory of 11.6 runs per game. That’s nearly averaging a mercy rule victory for the entire regular season. Wow. The only team standing in their way of a perfect season now was Madd Hatter, riding on the high of a thrilling upset victory the night prior over the only team that gave Louise & Jerry’s a run for their money in the regular season, Mills Tavern.
Madd Hatter came into their semifinal matchup as the underdogs, but don’t tell them that. They played with confidence from the start, fueling an early 4-1 lead over Mills Tavern after just the first inning. The big blow in the inning came off the bat of Jason Hattersley, who smacked a two-run homerun just two batters into the game. Mills Tavern wasn’t the number two seed by luck though. Pitcher Jim Pilla and the defense buckled down and would hold their opponent scoreless over the next four innings of play. In the meantime, the Mills Tavern bats woke up. Vinny Menechino cut the lead in half at 4-2 with a moonshot homerun in the third inning (that one may still be going). In the fourth, Mills Tavern took advantage of their opponent’s miscues and used small ball to take their first lead. Three singles, a double, and a reach on error combined for four runs (three after a would-be third out) and a 6-4 lead. A scoreless fifth on both sides brought us to the sixth. Madd Hatter saw its offense resurrected with another four-spot, the result of a pair of two out two-run homeruns off the bats of Trevor Dunne and a fired up Mike Gogliormella, to take an 8-6 lead. Mills Tavern responded immediately to tie it up in the bottom of the frame, taking advantage of another error, on the back of a laser homerun from Vinny Menechino, his second of the game. The next two batters walked, but pitcher Jason Hattersley worked his way out of trouble by retiring the next two batters. Mills Tavern shut down the Madd Hatter offense again in the seventh and would regain the lead. Mills Tavern saw an RBI double from Dave Wasserman (later scoring on an error) and a productive RBI groundout by Alex Bially for a three run lead. Madd Hatter never relented though, cutting into the lead in the eighth by plating a pair of runs to bring the score to 11-10. After holding their opponent scoreless in the bottom of the frame, it all came down to the ninth. Down by just one run but knowing they’d need some insurance, Madd Hatter saw their first four batters reach base. Jason Hattersley came through with the big, go ahead two RBI double. After a Ryan Arcadia walk, both runners smartly tagged on a fly out to center. This allowed Hattersley to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chris Dunne and Arcadia, who followed to third on the play, to later score on a base hit by Trevor Dunne. The top of the inning would end after four runs, a 14-11 lead, and the heart of the Mills Tavern lineup coming up. Madd Hatter, however, would shut the door after letting just one batter reach base in the bottom of the ninth and punching their ticket to the championship game.
How did Louise & Jerry’s get here? Well, it wasn’t quite so exciting. Their opponent decided to stay home and watch Sunday night baseball, the Yankees take down Kershaw and the Dodgers, rather than show up and play the team that smacked them around in the regular season, winning by a combined 27-6 over two games. Can’t blame them, but you’d like to see them at least try to put up a fight. To each his own. This ending seemed inevitable anyway.
Now for the big game, a scrappy David versus an utterly dominant Goliath matchup. Louise & Jerry’s owned their two regular season matchups with Madd Hatter, winning by a combined score of 28-9, but their championship opponent was hoping the third time would be the charm here. They were looking for a second straight upset victory and to snatch the crown away from their undefeated rival. Where Madd Hatter came in the previous night full of confidence, they seemed to be pressing a bit too hard in this, possibly feeling the pressure of knowing they’d need a near perfect game to take down this juggernaut. The previous night was a bit sloppy in the field, and they knew they would need to tighten things up on defense. Madd Hatter did, actually making less mistakes in the field and winning that battle by committing one fewer errors than Louise & Jerry’s. The problem was, as they proved throughout the season, that offense is relentless. How relentless? Well, in this game, Louise & Jerry’s would post a daunting .649 team batting average and slugged a whopping 1.162 as a team. Madd Hatter, on the other hand, lagged behind with a .414 team batting average and a .655 slugging percentage, both of which are respectable numbers if not for the comparison to the videogame-type numbers put forth by their opponent. They won the error battle but it was only 2 to 1, so it was a largely clean night for both sides.
As for the game itself, Madd Hatter started slowly, scoring just two runs in the first three innings. What makes this so tough is that Louise & Jerry’s hit the ground running right from the start. They would score seven runs in the first inning alone, aided by a three-run shot off the bat of pitcher Steven Percy. As if that wasn’t enough early damage, they came right back and plated 6 in the second inning. This time it was homeruns from Jude Bracken and Ted Serro, two-run and three-run respectively. Bracken wasn’t done there though. He would follow up his first with a second two-run homer in as many innings, this one an absolute bomb that cleared the netting in centerfield. Madd Hatter showed some signs of life in the fourth when Ryan Arcadia connected on a three run homer to try and get his team back into the game. They would win the inning, with Louise & Jerry’s only scoring one in the bottom of the frame, a solo shot from Woody Darling to the deepest part of the park, but Madd Hatter still faced an uphill battle trailing 16-5 heading into the fifth. Mike Gogliormella powered a three run homerun to right field for a second straight inning of three runs, bringing the deficit to 16-8. It looked like Madd Hatter wasn’t ready to go home without a fight, especially with their opponent reaching the homerun limit and retaining three of their own with four innings left to go. Louise & Jerry’s had other plans, however, and wanted to put this one to bed. They were out of homeruns, but that wouldn’t matter. They responded right away in the bottom of the frame and would start with three consecutive singles, all of which ultimately coming around to score. Bases loaded, Hattersley and the Madd Hatter defense rallied for two outs and only one run in, looking to limit the damage. However, Louise & Jerry’s smelt blood in the water and the bleeding wouldn’t stop there. After the two outs, the next six batters would reach base safely (one walk, four singles, and one double). Four more runners crossed home and Louise & Jerry’s countered Madd Hatter’s three runs with another seven spot in the fifth. The mercy rule was on with a score of 23-8, and Madd Hatter needed at least four runs just to keep this one going into the bottom of the sixth. Percy and the Louise & Jerry’s defense shut the door quickly, giving up just one hit and no runs in the sixth to secure the championship victory via mercy rule. Final: 23-8.
Championship MVP honors in this one have to go to Jude Bracken and Steven Percy. Percy pitched a gem, giving up just five earned runs, and helped his own cause by going two for three at the plate, including his three run homerun in the first, with a walk and knocking in five runs to tie for the team lead. That tie was with co-MVP Bracken, who finished the night a perfect four for four at the plate, including a pair of two run blasts in the second and third innings. He scored all four times he reached base and slugged 3.000 on the night. With two more batters who were perfect at the plate (Woody Darling and Zach Gonsalves), nine of twelve batters hitting .500 or better, and a number of strong defensive performers, it was tough to single out anyone but these two stars certainly shined the brightest.
Congratulations to both teams on great seasons. Madd Hatter put together some strong performance throughout the season and made a push for the championship crown. However, that belonged to Louise & Jerry’s, who put together an undefeated season with an unyielding offense, strong pitching, and field-shrinking defense. An incredible season rightfully closed with a league championship crown. Until next year!
Congratulations to the 2019 Summer Men's Hoboken League Champs - Louise & Jerry's!!!