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BBL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SET

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By Robert Balajadia

After many rain delays, the Budweiser Baseball League has finally ventured into the season’s final stretch featuring a championship best-of-seven series series between the top-seeded Braves vs. the Crown Bakery Phillies starting Tuesday night.  The championship series will be played every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday night until a winner is decided.

The regular season series between the two teams had been split 1-1 with the Phillies taking the postponed game after the teams avoided a near confrontation. The two best teams on paper are the last two standing.

Braves’ third baseman Chad Palomo picked up a grounder and throws the ball towards first base to make the play. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Braves’ third baseman Chad Palomo picked up a grounder and throws the ball towards first base to make the play. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Da Braves (12-2)

The top seeded Braves, who started the season 12-0,  find themselves in familiar territory after defeating the 76 Cardinals 3-1 in the semifinals on their quest for an unprecedented fifth straight championship.  The Cardinals stole the second game of the series with an eighth inning comeback, but two of Da Braves’ three wins were by the 10-run mercy rule.

Da Braves played their first two semifinal games without key player B.J. Balajadia, who came back for the final two games against the Cardinals after nursing a shoulder injury.  Pitcher Tony Yatar told GSPN at the closeout game of the series that the team is getting healthy at the right time and all should be ready for the championship series.

Da Braves wrapped up the series agains the Cardinals after Game 1 of the Phillies and Braves which has allowed the defending champs ample time to rest.  Yatar was not worried about rust when asked if that may play a factor and instead addressed that the team that makes the less errors and gets the most hits will win the championship.

This year’s Braves are the most stacked team in recent memory. Heavy with experience with the likes of veterans Rico Castro, J.T. Tuquero, the Sarmientos, John Salas, Dominic Cruz and the resurging Jimmy Reyes, the Braves possess no weakness on the field and down the lineup.

Pitching will be key for the Braves. A shorter series will work to their advantage. They will be riding the arms of Yatar, John Pangelinan, JP Aguon, Paul Lujan and Cliff Raphael. Aguon is off-island and will miss the first three games of the series in what is anticipated to be his last go around in the BBL.

Braves vs. Cardinals game recap:

GAME 1: Braves def. Cards 17-0

GAME 2: Cards def. Braves 10-8.

GAME 3: Braves def. Cards 16-1.

GAME 4: Braves def. Cardinals 10-4

Phillies’ third baseman Derwin Aguon makes the tag on Athletics’ runner Ignacio Aldan, but the umpire will rule in favor of the runner. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Phillies third baseman Derwin Aguon makes the tag on Athletics runner Ignacio Aldan, but the umpire will rule in favor of the runner during their semifinal series. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Crown Bakery Phillies (10-4)

The most impressive part of the Phillies win against the favored BOG Athletics was not the score of every game but the fact that they swept the A’s 3-0.

During the middle of the season, shortstop and big hitter Jathan Muna-Barnes told GSPN that his team would need to win every game for the rest of the season after starting out 4-3.  The team is now singing to a different tune as they will try and keep the underdog spirit alive and dethrone the defending champion Braves.

After 29 complete innings of play the Phillies gutted every game against the Athletics to pull off the series upset.  These games included an 11-inning game in Game 1 and a complete game by J.D. San Nicolas in the closeout Game 3.  With less than a week of rest, the Phillies jump right back on the saddle.

It took a while before the Phillies gelled, but it’s perfect timing. They have the talent to pull it off, but obviously not as deep as the Braves. If they pull from the bench, it’s not as interchangeable as their favored opponents.

They have a solid offense with the likes of Matt Muna, Derwin and Michael Dean Aguon, Barnes and Calvert Alokoa.

If the Phillies win the series, it will come down to their solid pitching staff led by Freddy Cepeda, RJ Joe as well as San Nicolas.

“The depth of my pitching is the the most key resource that I have for this series,” Phillies manager Shon Muna said.

Phillies vs. Athletics game recap:

GAME 1: Phillies def. Athletics 9-6.

GAME 2: Phillies def. Athleics 4-2.

GAME 3: Phillies def, Athletics 3-2

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