Three days after Team Turmoil thanked their lucky stars following a 4-3 win despite four errors in Game 1 of the Fall World Series, the club celebrated a successful championship run on a saturated Emory G. Bauer Field Tuesday afternoon.
Mark Johnson, the 2012 Horizon League Tournament MVP, added another piece of hardware to his mantel after the outfielder was named World Series MVP. Johnson clubbed the game-winning home run Tuesday as part of a 4-for-10 Series. The senior also scored three runs in the two contests.
"Zack Walsh and I put together a team that we thought could win a championship, and that's exactly what we did," Johnson said amidst a frenzied celebration inside the locker room.
Left-handed pitcher Luke Syens was a no-doubter for Series Cy Young Award winner. The junior college transfer from Burlington, Wisconsin earned the win Saturday before slamming the door shut Tuesday for the save.
In their 4-3 victory in Game 1, Team Turmoil jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead thanks to a two-run single off the bat of sophomore catcher Ray Bartolomucci. Bartolomucci's early damage was the only sustained to Horizon League Co-Pitcher of the Year Dalton Lundeen. Lundeen enjoyed an otherwise uneventful outing due to throwing first pitch strikes to 20 of 22 batters.
The Moneyballers tied the game up in their half of the seventh. Grant Yoder lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to plate the second run. They later took a 3-2 lead after catcher Dan Delaney plated sophomore Nate Palace with a run-scoring single.
Endowed with a 3-2 lead entering the ninth, first-year manager Ben Mahar summoned freshman Luke VanLanen to record the final three outs. Freshman Chad Jacob welcomed VanLanen to the ballgame with a sharp single. Team Turmoil loaded the bases two batters later following two well-executed bunts. Mahar was able to exhale a bit after VanLanen registered the first out of the inning via a strikeout.
However, veteran Kyle Schneider worked a bases-loaded walk to tie the game before VanLanen plunked Bartolomucci in the tricep with a delivery, forcing in the game-winning run. The bruise gave Bartolomucci three runs batted in on the day. Team Turmoil seized a 4-3 win despite committing four errors in the field.
The victory came as a great sense of redemption for many on Team Turmoil, including Schneider whose status for the Fall World Series was in question following a recent rash of burglaries of his bicycle.
In the opposing locker room, a dejected Mahar sat stone-faced at his locker following the walk-off loss. To his credit, the player-manager made himself available to the media after the game. The fact that the Moneyballers left ten runners on base only exacerbated the agony.
Inclement weather caused Monday's Game 2 to be postponed until Tuesday. Both teams fought the raindrops in a tilt that was unanimously characterized as "sloppy."
A solo blast off the bat of Delaney gave the Moneyballers a 1-0 lead before Team Turmoil put up a crooked number in the top of the sixth. The Moneyballers were in the midst of a late comeback when Schneider stabbed a rocket off the bat of Spencer Mahoney to begin an inning-ending double play. The double play kept it a 4-1 game.
Down to their last at-bat, The Moneyballers went three-up, three-down in the bottom of the seventh as Team Turmoil spilled onto the field to mob closer Luke Syens.
The 2-0 sweep by Team Turmoil represented the fifth sweep in Fall World Series history dating back to 2006.
"This is what makes all the early morning workouts and the cold practices worth it. I know a lot of people didn't give us a fighting chance, but guess what? We're Fall World Series Champions," Walsh said with a wide smile.
The quell of defeat stung deep inside the losing locker room.
Mahar had trouble finding the words to convey his disappointment afterwards, simply citing his final Fall World Series loss as "the most frustrating baseball moment in my life thus far." The downtrodden manager was gracious in congratulating Team Turmoil, however.
The Crusaders are scheduled to begin their season in mid February.