The Wolves came into Friday night with an outside shot at not finishing in 6th place and needed a lot of help plus two victories to make that happen.
The Owls really just tore up Mikael Ratansi for 16 Earned Runs on 26 hits. As has been the case all season, Mikael Ratansi had a good game with the bat while struggling on the mound but it wasn’t enough as his 2-4 hitting was only good to give him this season’s triple championship with the most triples this season.
The Wolves lost their first game 21-7 solidifying themselves as the 6th place team. Although many considered them still the team to beat, though they will have an uphill battle to climb in their quarter final game against the Tigers.
However, just as we are about to write off the Wolves, they finished the season against the Bucks who had a lot to gain with a victory as they are gunning for 1st place. In their final game, massively shorthanded and on a much bigger diamond at Bayview, the Wolves pulled off one of the biggest upsets in JMS this season winning the game 9-7.
Ali Merali led the way going 3-4 with 2 RBIs in this one as every single member of the team got a hit. Don’t look now but the Wolves have always peaked in the playoffs and a 1st round matchup against the streaky Tigers could be an upset waiting to happen.
The Owls also needed 2 victories and some help to solidify 3rd place and got the ball rolling quickly on Friday night as they hammered the Wolves 21-7. The team had a total of 47 at-bats and made them count. Every player on the team had a multi-hit game – the first time that has happened this season.
Leading the charge was Abbas Fazal who was player of the game going 4-7 with a home run and 4 RBIs with his best performance of the season. The stellar play has Abbas finishing the season 4th in the league in hits tied with Batting Champion Damien Ramnauth with 24 hits.
Needing a victory for a chance at 3rd place, the Owls faced off against the scary Tigers team and with starting pitcher Asad Nasser unable to play due to early morning game traditions, the Owls were forced to have Kumail Meghani pitch. He gave up 11 Earned Runs in this one and wasn’t able to get the bat going against an elite defence going 1-4. The Owls lost 16-12 and would eventually finish 5th place in the standings setting up a matchup against the Eagles in by far the most evenly matched up playoff quarter-final on the books.
Irfahn Khimji and Shane Nasser are the two x-factors going into the playoffs – both have been playing exceptionally well and raking in the RBIs and Hits but can they keep it up under playoff pressure.
To un-seed the Lions in 1st place, all the Bucks needed to do was beat a shorthanded Wolves team and then win 1 of 2 against an underwhelming Eagles squad. 2 victories was the ticket to first place for the team who has been in 1st place for most of the season. However, the Wolves were playing spoiler and they surprised the Bucks with a 9-7 victory. The game saw the emergence of Nadir Virjee and Aman Nasser who both went 2-2 with an RBI each.
Sunday, the Bucks had to win both games against the Eagles and they went into the bottom of the 7th inning with a very comfortable 8-0 lead before the Eagles stormed back but it wasn’t enough as the Bucks held on for the important 8-7 victory and solidifying themselves at 2nd place.
Brothers and co-captains Ali Raza Nasser and Imran Nasser led the way for the Bucks both picking up 2 hits and 2 RBIs and a home run each but they needed one more victory to finish 1st.
The Bucks were unable to keep the Eagles at bay in game two and lost their chance at 1st place as they lost 13-8. While most of the Bucks had slowed down in game 2, Minhal Jaffer didn’t get the memo as he went 3-3 with 2 doubles, a triple, and an RBI.
The benefit of finishing 2nd is that they get to face the Falcons in round one, but with Shane Worthington starting to have fun again, and a rested and full lineup, the Falcons are going into the playoffs as the only team with nothing to lose which is a dangerous matchup for the Bucks who might already be overlooking their quarterfinal matchup and thinking about the expected Semi-Final matchup against the Tigers.
The Eagles had a shot at 2nd place and got the help they needed from the Wolves with their victory against the Bucks. To finished 2nd, they needed two wins against one of the strongest teams in the league and for 6 innings, the Bucks had the Eagles starstruck. With no runs in, it wasn’t until the 7th and final inning that the Eagles finally clawed back and put up 7 runs in the final inning.
For the 2nd time in the last two weeks, the Eagles had a massive base-running error end the game prematurely. Both instances, the Eagles were caught leading off; in this case, with Ray Noormohamed swinging and missing and Hussain Habib leading off to end the game.
The game ended on that play but it was 6 innings of quiet bats, most notably Ali Manek who was obviously trying to win his 2nd home run title and went 1-4 with a series of fly-outs. He picked it up in game 2 but fell just one hit shy of a batting title despite going 4-8 on the day with a grand slam home run and 5 RBIs. It’s likely that Manek will finish both the MVP race and Batting Title race where he should have been drafted, where we predicted he would finish before the season started and lastly, also remaining consistent with his election results: Number 2!
Game 2 was the Bucks chance at 1st place and the Eagles aiming for home field for the 1st round of the playoffs. The Eagles took the game 13-8 in a come from behind victory where Sebastian Gianino may have lost his pitching award to counterpart Hussein Allidina.
Hussein Allidina finished the season pitching another gem of a game and is at the top of most pitching stats. Among pitchers with 40 innings pitched, he is second in wins, innings pitched, ground ball and fly ball outs, as well as earned runs. He is first in strikeouts (30), Earned Run Average (5.85), shutouts, and WHIP possibly just enough to earn him the JMS Pitcher of the Year Award. If he gets it, hopefully he doesn’t break it on his way home the way he did his brother’s (Abbas Allidina) in 2016
The Eagles will take on the Owls in round one and as was the case in 2016, Abbasali Kermalli came out swinging in his last game of the season for what the Eagles are hoping was his coming out party. Abbas launched his first home run of the season against Sebastian Gianino who had only given up 1 home run all season. He also legged out a triple against the Bucks sending warning messages to the Owls that he is back and is ready to lead the Eagles.
Coming into the day in 4th place, 2 victories were needed to propel ahead of the Eagles into 3rd place and set up a matchup against the Wolves in the first round. And they did exactly that with a 16-run, 19-hit performance against the Owls for a 16-12 victory.
The win was done so in dramatic fashion as the Umair Ali and Mahmood Kara each hitting two home runs against 2nd string pitcher Kumail Meghani. It was Umair’s best game of the season and likely his career as the heavy hitting captain dominated on both ends of the field. Umair went 4-4 with 3 RBIs and 2 homers.
The Tigers really are the team to beat going into the playoffs as they have been getting contributions from everyone. Maysum Jaffer was 4-6 on the day, Mahmood Kara ended the day with 3 home runs for the player of the week honours, and Nabeel Naqvi is quickly becoming a household name going 5-7 with 5 RBIs on the day.
Game 2 saw the Tigers face off against the struggling Falcons but gave them some life as the Falcons put up 7 runs in the final two innings but lost 12-7. The two wins put the Tigers in 2nd place and their matchup against the Wolves comes as news trickled down about Imran Virji not being available. The worry is that maybe the Tigers will take this game too lightly and we won’t match the championship pedigree that the Wolves will bring to the table.
Everybody wants to write off the Falcons except the Falcons. They were on the losing end again, however, put up a strong fight against the hottest team in the league. This time they scored 7 runs led by a resurgent captain Shane Worthington who is hitting the ball a lot harder. He had a massive 3 run triple to account for nearly half the teams runs.
Riaz Champsi and Aadil Jaffer also got in on the action going a combined 4-7 with 3 RBIs and the Falcons seem to finally be hitting their stride at the same time. Imtiyaz Kara also picked up an RBI as he seemed to be regaining his familiarity at shortstop this week making a series of solid defensive plays.
The Falcons match up well against a Bucks team who have the exact same record as the Falcons in their last 5 games (1-4). Keeping in mind that the Falcons have played the majority of their games without a full team and without key players each week. Safder Jaffer, Raheel Rawjani, Abbas Nasser, Sajid Alimohamed are all in the bottom-10 in at-bats this season.
With a full roster expected, the Falcons are the one team with the most to prove; expect to see the Falcons come out and play their best game of the season.