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Yankees Sweep Nationals To Secure Third Straight Ettare Championship

2016 Ettare Champion Yankees Team Photo!
(Seated) Dave Wark, Greg Salgado (bat boy) (1st Row) Harlan McCaskey, Lambert Calvert, Lorenzo Javier, Dennis Gordon, Tim Wright, Greg Cohen, Shawn Sanford, Jason Trask, Topher Chen. (2nd Row) Eric Rynhard, Ryan Erickson, José Mendoza, Brandon Dove, Steve McIntyre, Roy Williams, Alex Niedzielski, Ron Smare, Gil Salgado, Israel Rodriguez (Photo courtesy of Hillary Cohen)

As the two-time defending Ettare Division Champions, the San José Yankees came into the 2016 season with a bulls-eye placed squarely on their backs. However, despite the high expectations for the team, they did not disappoint, leading the division wire to wire, winning their first 15 games of the season, and finishing with a team record 17 victories for the regular season. The Yankees also led the Ettare Division in runs scored with 205 (10.3 runs per game), and least runs allowed with 86 (4.3 runs per game).

Not resting on the success of the previous two seasons, Yankees' manager José Mendoza set out to improve the roster while maintaining the strong core that brought past glory. Mendoza's first major addition came in the form of a former professional pitcher, Shawn Sanford. Although Sanford was expected to provide key innings on the mound, it was actually his bat that proved to be his biggest asset. Sanford finished the season hitting .489 with a team leading 3 HRs and 22 RBI. As well, Shawn also dominated on the mound, going 2-0, with 1 save, and he struck out 34 batters in only 17.1 innings. Sanford finished with an ERA of 1.56.

Another key addition to the 2016 Yankees was Tim Wright, an outfielder and pitcher, who showed no rust given his time away from the field. Wright finished the season hitting .333 with 8 RBI and 5 SB. Wright also proved capable in the outfield, manning both corner positions throughout the season. On the mound, Wright accounted for 1 win and 1 save during the season.

The final newcomer to the Yankees was first baseman Steve McIntyre. McIntyre improved steadily all season, and he had his biggest at bat of the year driving in a run during the Yankees' game 2 win over the Pirates in the Ettare Division Semi-Final Series.

Second year players Lorenzo Javier and Dennis Gordon continued to provide outstanding play on the offensive side of the ball, and this season, Gordon joined Javier in providing key innings on the mound throughout the season for the Yankees. Javier finished the season leading the team in hitting with a .500 average. He also had 11 extra base hits, including 7 doubles and 2 HRs, and he drove in 20 runs on the season. On the mound, Javier finished the season at 4-2, with 41 strikeouts in 32.1, and an ERA of 4.18.

Dennis Gordon also crushed the ball all season, finishing at .446 with a team leading 9 doubles. Gordon also drove in 19 runs and scored 25 runs. Down the stretch, Gordon emerged as one of the Yankees' key pitchers, getting crucial outs in high leverage relief situations. Gordon would appear in 8 games on the mound, finishing with a record of 2-1 with 25 strikeouts in 21.1 innings pitched, and an ERA of 3.37.

Yankees ace Ryan Erickson continued to prove why he is one of the best pitchers not only in the Ettare Division, but in the entire SJMSBL. Erickson dominated in the playoffs, winning, and completing, all 3 of his starts. His final playoff numbers seem as if they could only be accomplished playing a video game, but over the 23 innings he pitched, Erickson struck out an amazing 40 batters, while allowing only 14 hits and 1 earned run. His playoff ERA was 0.38, and his WHIP was 0.87. For the entire season, Erickson finished with a record of 6-0, 4 saves, 86 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.19. On the offensive side of things, Erickson got hot when it counted, and he finished the season hitting .321 with 6 doubles, 13 RBI and a team leading 19 stolen bases.

Second baseman Topher Chen enjoyed his finest season in pinstripes, earning his first all-star berth. Chen played excellent defense all season, and he finished the season hitting .448 with 27 runs, 16 RBI, and 8 SB. The Yankees were also happy to have catcher Dave Wark return to the team for the 2016 season. Although it appeared at the beginning of the season that Wark would be unable to play, luckily for the team, he was able to commit to one more season with the Yankees. Wark's play was outstanding behind the plate, and he contributed all season with the bat, finishing with a batting average of .341 and 10 RBI.

Second year pitcher/outfielder Jason Trask also showed tremendous improvement from 2015. Trask became a key pitcher for the Yankees, and he finished the season undefeated, with a record of 4-0, and 28 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched. Trask also had an ERA of 3.54 and he spun the Yankees' only shutout of the season. With the bat, Trask hit .350 with 4 SB.

Yankees' veterans Roy Williams, Greg Cohen, Harlan McCaskey, and Eric Rynhard all showed that they still had plenty of juice left in their bats as they came through with great at-bats all season. Williams manned all three outfield positions, and finished the season hitting .386 with 5 doubles, 21 RBI and 9 SB. Cohen put together a solid campaign, hitting .491 with 5 doubles, 21 RBI, 22 runs and 11 SB. McCaskey provided great defense at the catcher position, and his always reliable bat came through with an average of .373, with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 14 RBI and 12 SB. Finally, Rynhard played a great first base and finished the season with an average of .370, with 4 doubles and 19 RBI.

Although slowed by a shoulder injury which limited his at bats, infielder Brandon Dove provided immeasurable value to the Yankees through his glove work all over the diamond. Whether he was playing shortstop, second or third, Dove made one highlight play after another, and he finished the season as one of the top defenders in the Ettare division.

Outfielder Israel Rodriguez continued to make strides with the bat and his glove. Although his average was down a bit from last season, Rodriguez showed better plate discipline as he finished with an on-base percentage of .343. Infielder/Outfielder Gil Salgado improved his numbers from his rookie campaign as he hit .400 with 7 RBI. Salgado also hit his first career home run in 2016.

Veteran Lambert Calvert dealt with injuries for most of the season, however, in limited action, he did hit .231 with 1 double and 3 RBI. Alex Niedzielski continued to offer crucial support to the coaching staff all season, and although he had a limited number of at bats, he knocked in a run, and made a number of nice catches in the outfield. Finally, long-time Yankee Ron Smare proved invaluable as a coach, maintaining a steady hand while orchestrating the offense throughout the season. Smare still got it done in the field, holding down second base and knocking in 2 runs during the season.

Leading the team throughout the season was manager José Mendoza. Mendoza continued to push all the right buttons and he led the team to a record of 17-3, earning the number one seed, and Semi-Final Series matchup against the Pirates.

Playoff Summary

Ryan Erickson pitching in Game 3
Ryan Erickson pitching in Game 3 (Photo by Hillary Cohen)

Semi-Final Series - Game 1

Game 1 of Ettare Division Semi-Final Series pitted the Yanks against the Pirates. Although the Yankees beat the Pirates in all three of their regular season matchups, the two teams always played each other tight, and Game 1 would prove no different. Pirates pitcher Ben Glines shut down the Yankees' bats, and the Pirates won Game 1 by a score of 8-2.

Semi-Final Series - Game 2

Facing possible elimination, the Yankees turned to their ace, Ryan Erickson, to even up the series. The Yankees' bats woke up in Game 2, as they jumped to a big lead early and never looked back, finishing with a 17-2 victory. Erickson was simply dominant, striking out a career high 15 batters in only 7 innings. Roy Williams and Dave Wark each had 3 hits to pace the Yankees' attack.

Semi-Final Series - Game 3

In this elimination game, the Yankees again sent Ryan Erikson to the hill, hoping for a repeat of his Game 2 performance. This time out, Erickson would have to throw all 9 innings, but he led the Yankees to a 4-1 victory with 12 strikeouts on the game. Topher Chen and Greg Cohen had 2 hits apiece as the Yankees won the game, clinching their third straight Ettare Division Championship Series appearance.

Shawn Sanford pitching in Game 1
Shawn Sanford pitching in Game 1 (Photo by Hillary Cohen)

Championship Series - Game 1

In a match-up of the number 1 and 3 seeds, the Yankees would face the Nationals in the division championship series. The Nationals, in their first season in the Ettare Division, made a great showing during the regular season, finishing with 13 wins. The Nats also finished second in the division behind the Yankees in both runs scored with 200 and runs allowed with 95.

Making his first start of the season for the Yankees was Shawn Sanford. No stranger to the big stage, Sanford lived up to the hype, allowing only 1 run in 7 innings with 12 strikeouts. The Yankees' bats also delivered all game, as they continued to apply pressure on the Nats' pitching and defense by putting the ball in play and stringing together timely hits. Ryan Erickson, Topher Chen, Harlan McCaskey, Eric Rynhard, Tim Wright and Greg Cohen each finished with 2 hits on the game, and the Yankees took Game 1 of the series by a score of 11-1.

Championship Series - Game 2

Before Ryan Erickson even threw a pitch in his Game 2 start, the Yankees already had an 8-0 lead over the Nationals. However, given the way that he pitched in Game 2, those 8 runs proved to be 7 more than necessary as Erickson, building off his epic starts in the Semi-Final Series, pitched flawlessly in the clincher, allowing 0 earned runs and only 2 hits. Erickson also struck out 13 batters without any walks. The Yankees would cruise to a 12-1 victory and their third consecutive Ettare Division title.

The San José Yankees celebrating their third consecutive Ettare Division Title
The San José Yankees celebrating their third consecutive Ettare Division Title (Photo by Hillary Cohen)

The Yankees would like to congratulate the Nationals on their excellent first season in the Ettare Division, and wishes them great success next season. As well, the Yankees would like to thank all of their families and friends for their support throughout the season. Playing in the SJMSBL is a summer-long commitment, and the Yankees could not do it without the support of those most important to them.