2017 League Champions

2017 PCBL AA-Division Spring Championship
August 6, 2017 @ CSUN
Dodos (11-5-2) -vs- Ironbirds (14-3-1)



Sunday afternoon was sunny and clear - ideal conditions for the 2017 Double A Spring Championship game between the Dodos and the LA Ironbirds.  The Ironbirds have never won a championship, and the Dodos haven't tasted champagne in over 10 years, so someone was going to walk away happy today!
Ironbirds skipper Kevin Johnson took the mound, and worked around a pair of walks for a quiet first inning.  Not to be outdone, Dodos pitcher JR Gomez threw up a zero in the bottom half of the inning.
After Johnson worked in and out of trouble in the second (courtesy of an error and a walk), the Ironbirds struck first blood in the bottom of the frame.  With one out, Steve Ciccone doubled, and on the next pitch, Blake Reagan doubled him home to give the Ironbirds a 1-0 lead.

Both pitchers worked a quiet 3rd, and Johnson got through the 4th, still without allowing a hit!
The Ironbirds extended their lead in the bottom of the 4th.  Joey Desjardins walked, but was caught stealing.  After 
fly out to right, Noah Shriver and Steve Ciccone lined back-to-back singles, and Blake Reagan came up with a huge 2-run triple to give the Ironbirds a 3-0 lead.
The Dodos worked 2 more walks against Johnson, but he escaped yet again, taking his no hitter through 5!  JR Gomez struck out 2 in the bottom of the frame, and heading into the 6th inning, the Ironbirds still held a 3-0 lead.
Kevin Johnson retired the first 2 batters in the top of the 6th, but with 2 strikes, Mike Zumwalt hit a slow ground ball that was ruled a single on a close play at first.  Wyatt Whaley lined a clean single on the next pitch, but Johnson got the next batter to fly out.  
The Ironbirds continued to add on in the 6th.  David Dettmann led off with a single.  Joey Desjardins followed him with a single, and after a line drive out, Noah Shriver singled home Dettmann to extend the Ironbirds lead to 4-0.
Feeling the pressure of a championship slipping from their grasps, the Dodos bats finally came to life.  After pinch hitter Alex Garcia was robbed of a hit on a diving catch by Ironbirds' left fielder Todd Kirby, Ryan Walker singled.  Rick Jarakian and Albert Hernandez both walked to load the bases, and Dodos' leadoff man Dustin Burke hit a sacrifice fly to score 1.  Ken Cantero walked to load the bags again, and the Ironbirds would turn to David Capparilli (the AA Cy Young award winner) to stop the bleeding.  But Matty Lane greeted Capparilli with a 2-run single, and after 7 innings, the Ironbirds only led 4-3.
JR Gomez was still cruising for the Dodos, but not without a little help from his defense.  With one out, Ironbirds' 8-hitter Nate Ulrich launched a long fly ball to left center, only to see it grabbed by an "over-the-shoulder-sliding-into-the-warning-track" catch by Dodos' center fielder Matty Lane - easily the defensive play of the day, and in retrospect, a huge morale boost to the Dodos.  After 7, the Ironbirds still led 4-3.
Leading off the top of the 8th, Wyatt Whaley singled, and Kenny Gerber walked.  Alex Garcia reached on a fielder's choice, loading the bases.  Ryan Walker walked, and Rick Jarakian grounded into a fielder's choice to plate a pair.  Albert Hernandez capped off the scoring with a sacrifice fly, giving the Dodos a 6-4 lead.
But the Ironbirds led the league in scoring, and this offense wasn't going to give up that easily.  Rene Lucero led off the bottom of the 8th with a single, and after a ground out moved him into scoring position, Joey Desjardins singled him home.  After a fly ball made it 2 outs, Noah Shriver singled home Desjardins to tie the game at 6.  Steve Ciccone walked, chasing JR Gomez from the game.  RJ Nielsen came in, but Blake Reagan greeted him with an rbi-single, and the Ironbirds were 3 outs away from a championship, leading 7-6 heading into the 9th!
But the Dodos are known for their grit, and they weren't going to go down without a fight.  Matty Lane led off the top of the 9th by reaching on an error.  Mike Zumwalt singled, and Wyatt Whaley singled to load the bases.  Kenny Gerber grounded into a double play, but the tying run scored.  Alex Garcia was hit by a pitch, and Ryan walked reached on an error, giving the Dodos a 8-7 lead!  Pinch hitter (and long-time PCBL veteran) Brandon Farris walked up to the plate and promptly laced a 2-run single to center, and following Albert Hernandez getting hit with a pitch, Dustin Burke came through with another insurance run, giving the Dodos an 11-7 lead heading into the bottom of the 9th.
If anyone reading this expected the Ironbirds to roll over at this point, you don't know these birds!  Nate Ulrich led off with a walk, and Todd Kirby singled.  After executing a double steal, the Dodos recorded an out on a strikeout.  But leadoff man David Dettmann singled home the pair, and took second on the throw, cutting the Dodos lead to 11-9 and bringing the tying run to the plate!  But Dodos' pitcher RJ Nielsen picked off Dettmann (on a controversial call, I've been told), essentially killing the Ironbirds rally.  Joey Desjardins walked to bring the tying run up again, but it wasn't to be as the Dodos' third baseman made a sliding catch on an infield pop up to finish the game and bring home the trophy!
One of the most incredible back-and-forth contests I've ever witnessed, congrats definitely go out to both teams on an amazing game.  But most of all, congratulations to the 2017 Double A Champion Dodos for claiming their first PCBL title in over a decade!


Congratulations to the 2017 AA-Division Champion Dodos!


                    Dodos              0   0   0   0   0   0   3   3    5     11   10     0  
                    LA Ironbirds    0   1   0   2   0   1   0   3    2     9     14     3   
Pitching Stats:
WP RJ Nielsen (Dodos)    1.1IP; 2ER, 3H, K, 2BB
LP  David Capparilli (LA Ironbirds)   2IP; 8R (3ER), 7H, 0K, 2BB, 2HBP
JR Gomez (Dodos)    7.2IP; 7ER, 11H, 6K, 2BB
Kevin Johnson (LA Ironbirds)    6.2IP; 3ER, 3H, K, 9BB (no-hitter thru 5.2)
Noah Shriver (LA Ironbirds)    .1IP; 0ER, 0H, 0K, 0BB
Wyatt Whaley - 3-4, R
Dustin Burke - 2-4, 2RBI, BB, SB, SACF
Mike Zumwalt - 2-5, R
Matty Lane - 1-4, R, 2RBI, BB (Championship Game MVP)
Ryan Walker - 1-3, 2R, RBI, 2BB
LA Ironbirds
Noah Shriver - 3-4, 2R, 2RBI
Blake Reagan - 3-4, 2B, 3B, 3RBI
Steve Ciccone - 2-3, 2B, 2R, BB
Joey Desjardins - 2-3, R, RBI, 2BB