The 2019 RHMRBL season has come to a close with the Cardinals capturing the Reaper Cup, facing the minimum five games while outscoring opponents 77-19.
Kudos to the Phillies for staying in the fight, despite unfavourable circumstances and a number of 50-50 plays going against them.
Kicking off last Friday, the series had all the makings of a dog fight. Each team hosting a trio of reigning champion Astros, a reliable rotation and some big bats. Unfortunately tempers boiled over and a couple kick-offs ensued, eventually leading to the game being suspended forcing nearly 14 innings to be played Sunday. But what a spectacular September Sunday we were blessed with.
With the Cards already in the lead and their bats proving powerful, the Phillies sought to save their arms for game two having sophomore Martin O'Brien eat the innings, while Josh Winer worked his magic, capturing the first of two wins on the day, 13-4.
What amounted to a pair of incredibly gutsy performances in game two, Winer battled Jeremy Reason, both tossing beautiful breaking pitches and fierce fastballs. Reason's change was killer, as was his resolve, as he suffered a hip injury early on but courageously carried on. His sheer will was not enough however as Spencer Korman knocked in 7 runs, highlighted by two bases unloading doubles, while Winer worked 9 scoreless between games one and two (tossing nearly 13 innings on the day). Adding further insult to the already injured Phillies, Spencer Heide joined Steve McHale (who broke his finger sliding into Cozzolino Friday), Reason and surely others at far less than 100% health. However perhaps a three day break and the incredible Jordan Lipson looming would buoy the Phillies spirits.
Game three saw Jordan Winch taking on the aforementioned Lipson, and it was Winch who drew first blood, squeezing a double down the right field line taking a 2-0 lead into the 3rd. Continuing to prove himself with the bat with a great playoff performance, Lipson ripped one off Winch but the awesome glove of AJ Leitch laid out to make an extraordinary diving catch, cutting down one of many Phillies rallies. Undeterred, Lipson kept coming at the ridiculously deep Cards lineup, battling brilliantly until the wheels ultimately fell off in the 6th. Of note, Leitch who had one of the best batting seasons in RHMRBL history finally broke out of a playoff long slump at the plate, hitting a bases unloading double in the back-breaking 6th inning. With the series all but won, Winer once again took to the mound for his 16th and the final inning of the series, emphatically slamming the door shut with a closing K.
Korman captured his first Reaper Cup, while Cozz, Leitch and Doran went back to back (perhaps proving Doran's Major League Painting patch as the key). Just like with the 2017 Pirates the mix of Katz, Winer, Telford, and Winch proved to be that of championship material. Finally, breaking one of the longest Reaper Cup droughts, Chris Moncayo got his chips and dip for the first time in over a decade.
Many thanks to all that played, the number of spectators, and everyone that contributed to this supremely successful season! Next up, our always exciting year-end banquet in November. It's still very much in the works, but we can assure you this will be one you dare not miss, so stayed tuned here and on our socials for more information!