Lake Hopatcong, NJ – The New Jersey Beatles won their first CBA title, 4 games to 2, over the defending champion Skokie Wolfmen. After taking a 3-games-to-none lead in the series, the Beatles were hoping to close things out in Skokie. However, the Wolfmen battled back to win games 4 and 5, sending things back to New Jersey. Perhaps bolstered by the huge throng of fans that greeted them at New York’s JFK Airport, the Beatles refused to let back-to-back losses dishearten them. They closed out the series with a 4-0 game 6 win behind series MVP Kyle Lohse’s 6 shutout innings and 4 hits from Chris Denorfia. After the final out was recorded on Aramis Ramirez’s comebacker to Fernando Rodney, Rodney struck his familiar bow and arrow pose. “Twist and Shout” blared from the speakers as 58,000 screaming Beatles fans went wild.
In the process, the Beatles brought the title back to the Staub Conference for the first time since 2005. With the win, New Jersey completed an improbable run to the championship, having suffered through a 120-loss season just 2 years ago. A series of trades that brought key players to the Beatles helped turn that team around. Young players, such as Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Jeremy Hellickson, Jason Motte, and Chris Tillman were traded away, while proven stars Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion, Evan Longoria, Jimmy Rollins, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander joined the team. It proved to be a winning combination, as the Beatles won 106 games in the regular season, and then topped things off with a CBA Championship.
Game 1 featured a pitchers’ duel, with Justin Verlander pitching a complete game and leading the Beatles to a 1-0 victory over the Wolfmen and hard-luck loser Mike Fiers. The only run of the game scored in the 5th inning. Michael Saunders hit a one-out double and advanced to third when Brian Lahair mishandled Kelly Johnson’s routine ground ball to first. Verlander then laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Saunders.
Game 2 saw the Beatles defeat the Wolfmen, 7-1. Felix Hernandez earned the win with 5 2/3 strong innings, as Skokie could not muster much offense for the 2nd game in a row.
The series moved to Skokie for Game 3, as the Wolfmen fans were looking to get back into the series. Unfortunately for them, the Beatles roughed up starter Ryan Vogelsong, scorching him for 8 runs in 5 innings. The Beatles cruised to a 9-4 victory, hitting 5 homeruns in the process. Edwin Encarnacion hit 2 dingers, including a first inning grand slam.
Skokie’s backs were against the wall in Game 4, down 3-games-to-none and facing likely Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. The gritty Wolfmen were not dead yet, though, as Tim Hudson pitched a complete game 3-hitter, as Skokie won 4-0.
It was do-or-die for Skokie again in Game 5. Game 2 winner Felix Hernandez faced off against game 1 loser Mike Fiers. Neither of them made it past the 3rd inning, as this game turned into a slugfest. Skokie raced to a 7-2 lead at the end of 2. New Jersey took the lead back with 6 runs in the top of the 3rd highlighted by Ryan Ludwick’s grand slam. Skokie scored 3 more in the bottom of the 3rd, and then scored 1 run in each of the next 3 innings, extending their lead to 13-9. New Jersey closed to 13-12 on a 3-run homerun by Ludwick in the 9th, but their comeback fell short, as Skokie held on for the win.
The series returned to New Jersey for Game 6, with the Beatles holding a 3-games-to-2 lead. Game 3 winner Kyle Lohse took on Game 2 loser Wade Miley. Just as they had all season, the Beatles’ pitching staff carried the day, as New Jersey closed out the series with a 4-0 win. Lohse (2-0) went 6 innings, allowing just 2 singles and a walk. Fernando Rodney contributed 2 2/3 scoreless innings to finish the game. Meanwhile, Chris Denorfia went 4-4, and had a hand in each of New Jersey’s scoring rallies.
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