As we entered into the first week of the playoffs, we first had to finish the last week of the regular season. It meant a day with potentially 6 games in it, and we really couldn’t have hoped for better seeing as the final standings were all up for grabs, we knew which two teams would potentially sit 1/2, 3/4, and 5/6, but who took it was going to depend on the results of the last regular season games.
To start things off we had the Owls taking on the Lions. The Owls completely forgetting that they were home for this one – it’s ok, it’s only been 10 games by now… – didn’t have their equipment with them. A couple frantic phone calls to the Eagles and the equipment was on the way. This game was back and forth once it finally got started, and from an impact perspective there were a couple different story lines at play. First if the Owls won, they would have a much better chance at securing 5th place overall and if they won it would mean that the Lions would be stuck in that 4th place spot. As a result, this one may have been a preview of the potential playoff matchup later in the day. As you can tell from the headline, though the Lions fought back, the Owls held out and took this one, securing their 2nd win of the season and locking the Lions into 4th place.
Our second game featured a matchup of 5th versus 6th. The Eagles and Owls have been coming into their own lately and been having some success in the win column. Determined to end the season with more than just a single win, the Eagles would need to win this one, and win by 20 to be able to capture 5th place. A daunting task to say the least. It served as a good warmup game for their eventual playoff matchup later in the day, as the Eagles played sharp defensively, and shut the door on the Owls offence. To their credit their own offence was impressive as well putting up 12 runs. Unfortunately the run differential required was a massive one, and the Eagles fell short. The Owls meanwhile breathed a sigh of relief as they were able to say that they didn’t finish last in the regular season standings.
With 3 through 6 set in the standings, all that was left to decide was 1st and 2nd. 1st place getting the 7AM time slot in the semi-finals, and 2nd place having to stick around until the bitter end until the semi finals are all over. In order to get 1st place the Tigers who were in a tie for run-differential with the Wolves would need to win this game by 8. We say 8 because we got word earlier that the Falcons, uncomfortable with the idea of having to play 3 games in a single day especially back to back to back, decided that it would be in their best interests to forfeit their game against the Wolves, and allow for their aching bones an opportunity to heal. This is softball after all, so it’s expected that the teams would take the soft approach.
Nevertheless this one underway, the Tigers built up an early 6-1 lead, with Irfahn Khimji taking the last game of the season to register his name on the home run chart, he would add another later in this game in the form of a grand slam. We are at 9-7 after two innings as the Falcons fought back, and eventually 17-13 after 4. The Tigers realizing that this one wasn’t going to happen had the two Allidina brothers (Hussein Allidina and Abbas Allidina) leave to head to a wedding reception early. Leaving the team without a pitcher, the Tigers did what any team would do, they threw something at the wall and hoped it would stick, enter Bobby Bharwani. Bobby pitched his heart out, but with no run support and only a slim cushion to play with the Falcons sent him and the Tigers packing. So instead of winning this game by a smaller margin, they Tigers ended up losing this one all together. The Falcons fresh off the win were ready for their playoff matchup against the Eagles.
As mentioned this game was a forfeit, leaving the Wolves waiting for their eventual opponent in either the Lions or the Owls.
This game was the Eagles opportunity to redeem a completely blown season, one in which it took them 10 games before they finally figured out how to win. For the Falcons it represented a one game elimination that could totally ruin an otherwise solid season. Welcome to the playoffs! The way this one started out made that fear of losing a very real possibility for the Falcons as the Eagles put up 6 runs to start this one out. However, there’s something to be said for the veteran leadership on this Falcons team. They countered with 5 runs, fixed their defence and held the Eagles to just one in the top of the 2nd. Now holding an 11-6 lead, the Falcons made sure that the Eagles never really had a chance to come back. Holding a commanding 20-10 lead going into the last inning of the game, the Eagles would require a monumental effort to come back from this one and win. Starting with the bottom of their order would mean a contribution from everyone in the lineup, twice over.
We applaud them for their effort as the Eagles put up 5 runs in the inning, including two that came in from a home run by Mohammed Abdalla. However, it ultimately fell short as the Eagles fell to the Falcons 20-15. For the Eagles they wait until September 25th for the 5th versus 6th game, which represents a chance to not finish at the bottom of the playoff standings. Meanwhile for the Falcons they head to the semis to face off against the Tigers, a team who in recent outings they have beaten 21-4 and 18-17, so even though they are the lower seed, they’re not the underdog in this one. At the same time the Falcons top half of their order is firing on all cylinders – the top 5 batters accounted for 15 runs scored, 10 RBI and a home run by Ali Manek. Manek who is has been desperate to prove that the Tigers made a mistake in not drafting him will get his chance to prove it, or justify it. That game happens on September 18th.
Final game of the night is the rematch from the first game of the day. With the Owls fresh off their win against the Lions and brimming with all the confidence in the world that they can beat them, they take on a Lions team that is undermanned at 9 players. They start this one out strong as the first 3 batters of the game get on base, then a Muzzamal Khokhar double and a Hussain Habib triple scores them all. The bottom of the order gets in on the action in the second inning scoring 3 more. All this time they’re playing solid defence and at the end of 2.5 complete innings the score is 8-1. Then the Lions woke up, sending their entire lineup to the plate in the 3rd inning, putting together a total of 7 singles the Lions put up a 6 spot and were now within 1 run of the Owls.
Hussain Habib not to be denied an opportunity to play in the semi-finals hit a grand slam in the next inning, giving the Owls a strong cushion of 5 runs. The Lions though, did it again, everyone bats, a lot of singles and walks, and we have another 6 runs. Now for the first time in this game, the Owls are down 13-12. Then for the first time in the game they get shut out in the top of the 5th inning. Smelling blood, the Lions put together a quick 3 runs off the bat of their captain Asad Hussain who hit a 3-run home run to now take a comfortable 16-12 lead. The Owls were only able to muster one more run and that’s all she wrote.
The 5th and 6th game is now set with the Owls set to face the Eagles. Meanwhile the Lions look to take on the streaking Wolves who have won the last 8 games of the season but will not have played for nearly a month when they play the semis in 2 weeks. The Lions need to take advantage of the early start time, and the Wolves rust to take that first game of the series. If they do that, then they may be able to surprise the Wolves and take it. However, if they sleep in, the Wolves are without mercy. It should make for a great series.