(Game date: Sep. 8, 2018) — The Boston Brawlers and the Minneapolis Ravens will face off to open the highlight series of the 2018 LL Elimination Round. #1 seeded Ravens
moved into the Lake League for 2018 and ran roughshod over most of the teams, blanking 2017 Lake League champs 8-0, and dismantling West division competitors like Ohio and Louisville with season series wins.
But for the Elimination Round, which opens the 2018 playoffs, they face a tough opponent in the 4th seeded Boston Brawlers, who clinched their wild card on the second last day of the season.
The Brawlers went 5-3 against the Ravens this season, one of their game record oddities against Lake League opponents this year. Boston was 6-2 against soft teams like Chicago and Detroit, 12-2 against the snakebit Toronto Nomads, but only 3-11 against the Rimouski Fighting Moose, who ended up on top of the LL East this season.
Boston has 2 important starters still out on the DL, along with their top closer. But have managed to patch together competent replacements, relying on 27-year-old Oscar Gonzalez in the shutdown role, where he has saved 3 out of 4 opportunities.
Offensively, veteran catcher Guido Groeneveld has anchored the batting order from the #4 slot most of the year, producing a .269 average, 13 homers, and 59 RBIs. While the rest of the offense failed to wow opponents, the team was very hot through August, going 18-11, with some big wins including a 3-game win streak over the Ravens where they outscored them 28-12, before dropping game four in a 10-3 loss, just their 3rd road loss of the month. The Beantown Brawlers can certainly rely on speed as well, with Cesar Hernandez and Bruce Aberto producing 90 runs, 52 doubles, 4 triples and 29 steals.
Just as the Brawlers have some surprising offense and robust pitching to rely on, so to do the Ravens, and they will prove to be a tough opponent. Minneapolis is without shortstop Roberto Castro, a top on-base percentage guy with incredible speed of his own but has remained mostly intact otherwise.
A selection of dominant pitchers permeates the rotation, though it’s likely just Lake League strikeout champion Ricky Rodriguez, and Jason Myers will slot in as #1 and #2, backed by Bob Finney or Barrett Block as a #3. Rick-Rod and Myers were #2 and #3 on the wins leaderboard this season.
The Ravens offense is intimidating, with 3B-man David Baker leading a team that placed first in on-base percentage and second in batting average, and rookie of the year candidate Evandro Cerigo, and power-hitting CF Gabel Reyes teaming up to hit 50 bombs and drive in 135 runs, for the bulk of the run production in 2018.
The Ravens will open any weakness Boston’s pitchers show and step right through into the second playoff round, if the Brawlers don’t take control early on with their veteran presence.