Twins Top Reds 2-1. Repeat As Nicewonger Champions.
The 2016 Santa Clara Twins came out this year with a lot to prove.
In 2014 they went 20-0 during the regular season, only to lose in the deciding game of the championship series against the Santa Cruz Mets in 19 innings. It was a devastating defeat after a dominating season.
The 2015 season saw the Twins win their first Nicewonger Division championship despite sleepwalking through a mediocre 13-7 regular season. In the post season the Twins took the next step and swept their way to the division crown.
During the off season Twins founder and manager Kyle Madej's goal was to find a way to merge the perfect regular season performance from the 2014 season with the spotless post season from 2015.
While retaining key players like Michael Monelo (12-2, 0.58 ERA), Rich McDowell (336 BA, 27 RBI's, 30 Runs), and Joey Kies (3-1, 0.40 ERA, 7 SV's), new talent was added to improve the Twins roster.
Power hitters Mike Hoefs (468 BA, 9 HR, 52 RBI) and Sheldon Daquiaog (476 BA, 8 HR, 27 RBI) gave the Twins a middle of the lineup that was second to none. Since the inception of the wood bat in the MSBL these two players have produced the most prolific slugging numbers (Hoefs .777, Daquiaog .857).
Defensively, the Twins outfield was their strong suit. Ray Montez and Sergio Herrera saved dozens of runs over the year with great speed, anticipation, instincts and arm strength.
The Twins also had many unselfish leaders on the team that played key roles inside and outside of the game. Boomer Richer played the role of the veteran catcher, team psychologist, and bases on balls leader. Jason Etheridge was another whose contributions went beyond the lines. Similar to Tramble he played important roles as a position player and a stalwart pitcher.
Wesley Tramble (.374 BA, 5-1, 1.31 ERA) and Max Blankenship (.378 BA, 22 Hits, .446 OBP) proved to be two valuable additions to the Twins line-up. Tramble provided the big hit in a "do or die" situation with the Twins facing elimination in the semifinal round vs the Mets. Tramble's big hit sparked a comeback that took the Twins from elimination to a huge 10-run rule victory in game two of the series.
After the Twins got past the Mets they stepped into the finals against longtime rival the San José Reds.
Rookie Twin Ricky Diaz (.328 BA, .493 SLG, 16 Runs) gave the Twins the spark that was needed to culminate a championship season acting as the catalyst on offense in scoring both runs in the 2-1 championship game victory. Ricky's passion and intensity inspired his own team and unnerved opponents.
Pitching ace Michael Monelo fittingly induced the last out of the championship game and the Twins celebrated a wire to wire Nicewonger division regular season and playoff championship in back to back years.