(GAME DATE – Oct. 21, 2019) — It was a dramatic and long-anticipated finish to cap an historic season for the St. Petersburg Admirals, who won their first franchise Bull Cup Championship in history after defeating the Minneapolis Ravens 4 games to 1.
The Admirals put the icing on their championship cake with an 11-5 Game 5 win in front of a home crowd in St. Petersburg, capping an emotional season where finally, everything “clicked”.
Admirals GM was said to be especially pleased at the results, expressing that it was a long time coming. St. Pete’s had made the Bull Cup last year, but were defeated by the Montreal Metros, suffering a season in which Jose Soto and some other important names were injured. The team had an Elimination Round exit in 2017, when they were the Anchorage Aces, after falling to Calgary, who went on to win the Bull Cup.
This year, there was no mistake. The Admirals vanquished the Ravens for three straight games, beating them on the road 9-5 and 10-3 to open the series, then Jose Soto crafting a masterful 7-0 2-hit shutout for Game 3 as the series came to St. Pete’s. In Game 4, the Ravens fought back, winning 5-3, but it was too little, too late. A pair of Viramontes homers, and two more from Chris “Starlord” Pratt and Israel Medina, helped ensure that Game 5 remained out of reach for the 100-win Ravens.
Viramontes, at 35, was named a series MVP for the second time in the same postseason, having been MLCS MVP and now Bull Cup MVP for the first time in his career. It was his fourth career playoff MVP award, and the fourth Bull Cup win of his career. It was a highlight to end the 2019 season on, and made up for missing 7 weeks of play while on the DL earlier this season with post concussion syndrome. The RF finished the series with a slash line of .533/.696/1.333, with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs.
The 2019 Bull Cup marks a phenomenal turn around for the Admirals. As recently as 2013, when they were still the San Diego Seagulls, they had been one of the worst teams in baseball, finishing that year 30-52, ahead of only the two expansion teams that came in the season before, the Norfolk Sharks, and coincidentally, the Arizona Cowboys, who they faced in this year’s MLCS.
GM Brandon Popper deserves much of the credit for the about face. After taking the helm after a successful 2016 season that saw the Seagulls finally place 1st in their division for the first time in 7 years, he maintained the momentum and shook the team up with a move to Anchorage for 2017, before bringing the club to St. Petersburg in 2018.
The club will rest now before reorganizing for a busy and brief off-season, and no doubt will make plans to repeat the feat for 2020.