Cranberry starting pitcher Jake Stumpf (W, 1-0) threw six innings and allowed one run as Cranberry beat South Oakland 2-1 in Spring Hill last night.
Ducks starter Randy Patton (L, 0-1) held Cranberry to one earned run over 5 innings. Cranberry scored on a walk, wild pitch, and two infield hits in the first, then scratched across another run later in the game. South Oakland pulled within one on Anthony DeFillipo’s sixth inning solo home run, but a late rally came up short when a base running error by the Ducks left fielder led to a game ending double play with runners on second and third.
Overall, this was a tough pitching draw on a cold night on opening day. I think we will be fine.
South Oakland plays next on Friday at Hershel Park against D2.
The 2022 Finalist South Oakland Ducks open their season at home tonight vs. Cranberry. Cranberry always plays South Oakland tough, and tonight should be no different despite a tumultuous offseason for Cranberry which led to significant turnover for the team from Butler County.
The Ducks welcome back some familiar faces this season, sparking a non-controversy over stealing players that ignited an argument in the preseason league meetings. We will return pretty much the same roster with a few additions. We hope to win more games in the regular season this year so we don’t have to win six straight playoff games in the losers bracket to get to the finals again. We should be in the mix late, but there are some great teams in our division. Lets have a look.
Off-Season Happenings Around the League
Bandidos steal Bulldogs manager from Bulldogs, improve uniforms. Eric and John Friend are being fined for player tampering after engaging in premature negotiations with former Bulldogs manager, and occasional Ducks tournament player, Colin “Cups” Dougherty while he was still under contract with himself to play for the Bulldogs. Gregg Friend was quoted, “I don’t know what my family is doing.”
Pittsburgh D2 added mercurial slugger and perennial MVP candidate Luke Gapinski [sic] from Sheraden. This addition brings a solid middle of the lineup bat, and makes a great pitching staff even better. I’m sure they will all get along just fine.
Speaking of the Jays, after their waiver requests were denied, along with their initial attempt to play in A, they decided to play in AAA with three active college players on their roster rather than stay in AA with one active college player. When asked for comment, the jays manager said, “SCARED!” Stunning lack of accountability.
Speaking of college players, the Eagles are off to an 0-2 start. They stayed in AA after winning the title, but supposedly had to cut two of their ringers. But at least they have last year’s MVP who was probably the fifth most valuable player on his own team and maybe the fourth best catcher in AA. I guess he got on base a lot for the Point Park kids. The Eagles will be good again this year, but our catcher is better.
Speaking of the Devils, I think they will surprise some teams this year. Or maybe they will continue their slow, steady decline since their 2019 title. In a parallel universe, they would still have Luke and that guy from Carrick and they would fight everyone and then be forced to move to the Daily News League due to a brawl in the stands or an on-field stabbing.
Tonight’s opponent, Cranberry, saw half their roster leave and form a new team, the Butler Buccos. There is still a non-zero chance both Cranberry teams fold, though I imagine they will both pull it together and play .500 ball this summer. Butler will probably be good, but they don’t have a field permit yet. They have one of the worst nickname and uniform combos I’ve ever seen in an adult sports league. It’s offensive. Though they only narrowly edge the Warriors for worst uniforms.
Speaking of the Warriors, they cheat. The have a storied history of questionable roster moves in the playoffs. They get away with it because no one will call out other teams on having illegal players until the game is over, which is not how the rule works. The only team I’ve seen successfully challenge an illegal player is the Warriors, who did it last year in the Single A Finals against the Lions who were super pissed. Be ready to ask for IDs.
I’m not writing about Keystone Oaks in protest of their 6:15 weekday time slot. I may be forgetting a team entirely. If so, I’m sorry.
This is our 20th anniversary season. I’ve been a Duck for 20 years. Our youngest rostered player is 19. I am humbled to play another season with and against much more accomplished players than myself. This is an unforgiving game, and I’m happy I can still contribute at 42.
We have a couple question marks with Tony and Casen on the shelf with arm injuries to start the season, but we have contingency plans in case they can’t get on the field. Hopefully they heal up by June and get their 7 games in before playoffs.
I think we will be motivated this season after coming so close last year. If we get some bounces, we could make another deep run. We have pitching depth and a solid lineup.
The Ducks look to have a strong year. We almost broke out championship drought in ’22, and we look to keep the momentum.
The Pitching Staff
Pitching wise we lost one of our starters that came on late, in true MLB like fashion. We acquired two arms at the deadline, and one decided to return to his previous team in Free Agency. These things happen, South Oakland (Spring Hill) isn’t for everyone. Another deadline acquisition is currently rehabbing a shoulder issue, and we hope to have him back sometime during the season.
We return possible Ducks all time innings leader Randy Patton. Randy had a great year last year. As our only regular returning starter, he racked up innings early, while he was backed up by the Emerging JZ. These two locked it down until our acquisitions were made. The icing on the starting pitcher cake is the return of Billy and Brandon, after their ‘one-year contracts’ with the Jays expired, they decided to Return to the friendly confines of Spring hill. Our bullpen returns Liam, Sorosky, JZ, Wild thing, and the youngster of the group, Luke.
The *probably not*
Looking at our pitching staff we may be able to spread out innings, which is something that has never actually happened since I took over. I like to believe that we will be able to keep a healthy and rested pitching staff through the season, but let’s be realistic, that never works out.
NABA AA will still have to deal with me behind the plate, until the guys, or more likely my knees, tell me that its time to move on to some other position. I have at least one, if not three guys who can catch this year as well, so technically…. Actually never mind, technically nothing. Barring double headers, I am hoping to catch every game this year.
We are deep at first base, and with an average team age of somewhere in the mid-thirties, we should be. With Flip, Brandt, and 55 the rest of us should not have to put that oven mitt on. The rest of us being, Jimmy, Gwin, Lombardi, and myself.
Liam and Dimas keep second base pretty locked down both in the field and at the plate. These two got us through the season last year, and hopefully it works out again. I would prefer to not put someone like myself at second base again this year.
Kenny will lock down the hot corner for us. I am excited to see him diving around and making plays again this year. We have multiple guys who can back him up at the hot corner, whether it be myself, Lombo, JZ, or one of our many ‘Utility’ guys.
Great question…. I put a call into Correa’s agent, but payment by cold IC light after the game was not enough to sway him from that Twins contact, his loss. To start the year, we will have shortstop by committee, and hopefully that isn’t our status for the whole season.
Swaugdawg is returning to lock down centerfield, Ben and Lombo are healthy, being our veteran leaders out there. Jimmy and Dwill will get innings as well as we rotate through. JZ, who may be the first player other than myself mentioned three times, is also in the mix for some outfield work.
TJ is one of the best hitters in the league. Good luck dealing with his bat. He also could platoon at first or in the outfield, and he even got some innings on the mound last year, fingers crossed that neither of us pitch this year, and Dimas too, actually.
Overall I think we are in a good spot, to have 22 guys registered by this time of the year is something that I have previously dreamt of. We have two people starting the season on the IL, Tony and Casen, hopefully neither injury is season or career ending. We do have a few unknowns, especially at shortstop, but hopefully that will figure itself out. After last year, having what felt like 150 unknowns I’ll take it. Going into my seventh season wearing the Green and Gold I am hopeful that I will have to find a place to put the League trophy. This bunch deserves a championship after the heartbreak last year, and I am hopeful we rectify that loss. Maybe I am bullish because we don’t have as many questions as last year, but then again, maybe I am spot on in thinking we should be one of the favorites. Only time will tell.