October 24, 2014

Before Gordon had success with the Royals, he also had success as a youngster in Missouri

Alex Gordon during his times in Beatrice and with the Royals.

Alex Gordon during his times in Beatrice and with the Royals.

The MINK Baseball League, a summer, college-level, wood-bat league currently comprised of teams in Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska, is feeling special pride these days, watching several former players in the league help their current Major League Baseball teams to postseason success.  Of the four clubs still competing for the American and National league championships and the chance to play in the World Series, starting next week, three have ex-MINK League players on their LCS rosters, two playing prominent roles as full-time or platoon starters.

One of the leaders of the hottest postseason teams, the Kansas City Royals, is left fielder Alex Gordon, who spent the summers of 2002 and 2003 playing MINK League baseball in places like Chillicothe and St. Joseph for the now-defunct Beatrice, Neb., Bruins.

In the Kauffman Stadium third-base dugout across the field from Gordon tonight or whenever the weather allows the ALCS to resume will be Caleb Joseph, a rookie catcher for the Baltimore Orioles.

Joseph, who played for the Chillicothe Mudcats in both 2005 and 2006, made his big league postseason debut in memorable style Saturday in Game 2 in Baltimore. He hit a sacrifice fly in his first at-bat and singled in each of his next two plate appearances. He also contributed to Baltimore’s ill-fated bid to square the series at one game apiece when he threw out Royals speedster Jarrod Dyson on a stolen base attempt in the late innings.

Over in the senior circuit, one of the veteran reserves for the Cardinals and an important contributor to their 2011 World Series victory over Texas is utility infielder Daniel Descalso.

Descalso, who had a strong final six weeks to the regular season, was a standout for the MINK League’s Clarinda, Iowa, A’s in 2005.
In addition to these currently-active MLB postseason players, another former MINK Leaguer is part of the Royals’ major-league roster, although he closed the season on the team’s 60-days disabled list.

Pitcher Michael Mariot spent the better part of two months as a member of the Royals’ bullpen, earning one victory, before returning to the minors and then getting injured. Back in 2009, Mariot spent the regular MINK League season with Beatrice.  The trio of players still participating in MLB’s postseason are only part of the story of the contribution of ex-MINK Leaguers to the success of playoff qualifiers.

Huskers release 2015 baseball schedule

Coming off a 41-win season and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, Head Coach Darin Erstad will continue to challenge the Nebraska baseball team in 2015 as it works to reach its ultimate goal of playing in Omaha at the College World Series.  The Huskers are set to play 56 games in 2015, including 27 games at Hawks Field. The Huskers will play 15 games against teams that qualified for the 2014 NCAA Tournament, including a Big Ten road series at Super Regional qualifier Maryland and a three-game home series against College World Series qualifier Texas.

The Huskers will spend the first four weeks of the season on the road, playing a total of 13 games. NU then returns to Hawks Field for 16 straight homes games, including a pair of midweek series with Indiana State and Cal State Fullerton, along with weekend series against Michigan, Florida Gulf Coast and Texas.

Nebraska will play eight Big Ten Conference series, including home sets with Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Purdue, while traveling to Maryland, Iowa, Northwestern and Illinois. The Huskers will not play Indiana, Rutgers, Penn State or Michigan State during the 2015 regular season.

The 2015 Big Ten Baseball Tournament is scheduled to run from Wednesday, May 20 through Sunday, May 24 and will take place in Minneapolis, Minn., at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins. Target Field played host to the 2013 Big Ten Baseball Tournament, with the Huskers falling in the championship game to Indiana.

Nebraska baseball schedule

Storm Chasers repeat at Triple-A national champions

The Omaha Storm Chasers defeated the Pawtucket Red Sox 4-2 tonight at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina to capture their second straight Triple-A National Championship, and third Triple-A Championship overall. It is the first back-to-back Triple-A Championships in franchise history. Brett Hayes was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

The Storm Chasers led 2-1 through four and a half innings on two RBI by Cheslor Cuthbert, but then the game was halted for one hour and 45 minutes due to thunderstorms. After the delay the PawSox tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth, but then Brett Hayes hit a go-ahead homer in the top of the seventh with two outs to put the Chasers ahead for good. After the Hayes round-tripper, the Omaha bullpen retired nine of the final ten Pawtucket batters to clinch the title and finished a postseason where they only let in one earned run in 35.0 combined innings.

Omaha is the third team to win the Triple-A Championship in back-to-back years.

Story courtesy OmahaStormChasers.com

Storm Chasers win their second straight PCL Championship

The Omaha Storm Chasers beat the Reno Aces 4-0 Sunday to win their second straight Pacific Coast League Championship, and third title in the last four seasons. They will face the Pawtucket Red Sox in the 2014 Triple-A National Championship in Charlotte this Tuesday, September 16 at 6:05 p.m.

Omaha starter Aaron Brooks tossed a complete game shutout in the Game 5 win and was named the 2014 PCL Playoffs MVP with three wins and only two runs allowed in 24.0 postseason innings. Brooks finished off the 2014 season allowing just eight earned runs in 53.0 innings (1.36 ERA) in seven straight wins.

The Chasers scored three runs in the first two innings.  With two outs and runners at first and second, Brett Hayes lined a double to the gap in right-center, scoring Pedro Ciriaco and Paulo Orlando.  In the second, Whit Merrifield blooped a single into center-field past a diving Mike Freeman to score Cheslor Cuthbert with the third run.

Wingnuts sweep Saltdogs to win A.A. championship

The Wichita Wingnuts defeated the Saltdogs 8-3 Saturday night to complete the sweep and win the 2014 American Association Championship on Saturday night.

Lincoln jumped out to a 3-0 lead, highlighted by a second-inning lead-off homer from Brandon Pinckney.  Wichita tallied a run in the second on a two-out bunt single, and scored  three unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth to assume a 4-3 lead.

The Wingnuts then scored a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth to make it 7-3, before adding a final tally in eighth.

Joe Bisenius (1-2) lasted six innings, yielding seven runs – four earned – on seven hits to suffer the loss. Pinckney, the 32-year old in his final professional game, went 3-for-3 with a home run and a walk.

Lincoln’s successful 2014 run comes to an end after a Central Division Championship, a comeback division-series win over Winnipeg, and its second Championship Series appearance.