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MA Yard 2015 OPEN Preview

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Piranhas  -  Some team had to step in and dominate in 2015 with the absence of the Throwbacks and DTR on the shelf for a year because of a Brian Dinapoli leg injury, and that team was the Piranhas. Practically flawless all year, they finished the regular season 31-6 and the Dave Fisher owned franchise earned their 3rd regional championship since 2009 with a 2-0 series sweep of the Knights in the final.

The teams that got the best of the Piranhas this year were a NY Skittles squad, the infamous Lou's Diamonds, Hooligans, and also two losses against a one day Doom team that won't be in Staten Island on 8/29 and 8/30.

Whisner and Foley throw two of the best knuckleballs in the nation and when on are very hard to hit. The aforementioned Foley rakes everything at the dish and is as tough an out as it gets. He is the primary run producer on the team, as evidenced by his .303/18HR/54 RBI numbers this year. Dave Fisher leads the team in batting average with a .322/10/41 slash line and is a scrappy hitter that will singles hit you all day and then before you know it he'll hit a pitch 145 feet. Dan Whisner has progressed as a hitter this year and carries into the open a .268/12/36 stat line to go along with an impressive 9-3 record on the mound with a miniscule 1.24 ERA.

This team also won 4 out of 5 MA events this year, basically running through every team they played. Look for them to be in the Final 4 come Sunday in Staten Island and be a legitimate threat to take down the whole thing.

Knights - The Knights put together a solid season this year in the MA region, finishing the year 20-11 and in second place in the MA region and 6th overall in the National standings. They made it to two event finals, and ended up losing in the regional championship to the Piranhas. Led by Evan Reardon, Jimmy Flynn, and Scott Thomas, this team hit the ball well all year and there is simply no easy out in this lineup.

Reardon finished the year hitting .381/10/27 and ended up 5-5 with a 1.93 ERA on the flat mound. Flynn ended the season hitting .363/9/21 with a pitching record of 8-4 and an ERA of 2.14. Thomas has been a major contributor at the dish this year, coming up with timely hit after timely hit on his way to a team leading .405/13/40 stat line. He simply hits anything and everything. Reardon and Flynn split the pitching duties and they can be a lethal 1-2 punch when both are on.

The Knights head into the Open with the expectation of making it to the Elite 8 and the mentality that they can beat any team in the nation when they're on their game. The Knights have the advantage (and disadvantage) of not having faced any teams from outside the MA region this year. That can work both ways and they hope it works in their favor come August 29th.

Krusty's Kids - There's not one thing bad to say about these guys. They  have fun and play the game the right way, and win games while they're at it. After taking 2014 off, Amato is back and rejoined his old teammate Erik Anderson while also bringing in longtime "Krusty" member Scott Martell.

This team finished the season at 23-18, with a few out of region appearances as well. Their record is not a good barometer of how good and experience this team is. They're better than their record shows and if you sleep on them at the Open they will beat you. Erik Anderson and Nick Amato handle most of the pitching duties, with Anderson posting an 8-11 record and a 2.42 ERA, while Amato finished the season with a 10-3 record with a 2.41 ERA. Amato leads the team in batting average with a .355 average to go along with 9 HR's and 35 RBI's. Scotty Martell will bring to the open a .232/5/30 line and also a clutch bat that often shows up in big situations. EA brings a ton of experience with him (much like Amato) and he'll hope to get back to the Elite 8 like last year with DTR.

High Rollers - We all knew these kids had talent last year, but this year they really stepped up and proved that they are a force to be reckoned with and will only get better as time goes on and my crystal ball says this team will eventually be a national champion. But not this year. This team is still the sleeper team to watch in the Open that could very well sneak it's way to Sunday if the chips fall the right way for this team.

Led by Danny Haverty and Augie Martini, both of these youngsters can pitch with the best of them and Haverty is quickly becoming one of the best hitters in the nation. Kid rakes anything and everything, but is still prone to swing and misses, which doesn't happen too often with the game's best hitters. Augie is also turning into a solid contributor at the dish, but like Haverty, and maybe even more so than Haverty, he also tends to be a free swinger at times and getting behind in counts at the Open will put them in a tough spot as games tighten up and every pitch matters. That is something they'll need to work on as time goes on. The 3rd player on this team is Elias Sachs, but he seems to miss events fairly often,  while  another fill in named Ron has showed up a few times.

Whoever the 3rd is for this team this weekend will play a major role in how far they go. You can bet the house that Haverty and Augie won't be able to carry this team alone, it takes a team effort to win unless your name is Dallas Mall, so whoever the 3rd is will need to step up and prove they can succeed on the big stage.

Founders – Lou Levesque’s team is certainly a team that leaves you scratching your head after you play them. At times, they can be downright dirty and shock teams with their pitching and offense prowess. Other times you wonder how this team isn’t in the loser’s bracket every tournament. Tom Deveau is the leader of the team offensively and on the mound, posting a 9-6 record with a 2.39 ERA, to go along with 2 saves and an impressively miniscule 2 walks allowed all season. At the plate he will bring an imposing .432/19/61 slash line to the Open and look to dominate like he has all year.

Levesque is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the box. At times he appears completely focused and tuned in to the at bat and will beat you no matter what pitch you throw. Other times he is so distracted by the people from two fields over who had a question about whether a hit was a home run or a triple…or a double or a single. Fortunately for him and his team, he won’t be running the Open this year, and will instead get to divert his attention 100% towards the games at hand. Dom Disanto rounds out the Founders roster, and he is probably one of the sneakiest hitters in the league. Similar to Levesque in a way, Dom will totally swing out of his ta ta’s on one pitch and then the next pitch you’ll throw him a riser and he’ll blast a missile to deep center. At the plate this year he boasts a .252/4/21 slash line and a 5-4 record with a 3.78 ERA on the flat mound.

This is for sure a dark horse team heading into the Open and a team that could certainly surprise if they play their game, but odds are they'll be in the Player's Cup come Sunday.

Lou’s Diamonds – The Diamonds finished the season at a respectable 13-13 record and have battled their way into the Open this year and it comes at no surprise to me that they made it. They’ve truly earned every win and had an impressive showing in the 5th MA tournament, nearly beating a powerhouse Piranhas team in the semi finals of that event.

Led by team captain and all around wiffleball jokester, Dave “The Animal” Morse will look to lead his team to a Sweet 16 birth this weekend and turn heads while doing so. The Animal brings with him a striking .391 batting average and 6 HR’s/22 RBI’s. Whatever you do, do not underestimate his ability to crush the ball. Despite his not so conventional swing, he will flat out make you pay if you leave a pitch over the middle. Rounding out the roster is longtime GSWL veteran Lou “Terminator” Langlois, Drew “Test” Morse, rookie Scott Winfield, and the Pac-man himself Andy Rapacki. Test can be downright dirty on the mound when he’s on, and rookie Scott has shown promise on the mound early in his wiffle career.  Time will tell if they can sneak into the Sweet 16 come Saturday night.

Boston Raiders - This is also a young team that is entering its 2nd season and is improving weekly. Even though these guys are the same age as the High Rollers team, they are still a step behind them. The anchor's of the team are Danvers' own John Lebrun and Colin Prentiss. Since day 1 their passion and commitment has been superb, and I applaud them for that, as well as doing the field crew for the MA region this year. We all know that is no easy task.

As for the team itself, I've seen them take big strides this year in beating some of the region's best in the Knights and Hooligans. That does not go unnoticed and wins like that is what it takes to get to that next level. I want to say I think this team will make it to the Sweet 16, but they are in what looks like the toughest bracket on paper and will face teams like CCX, The Enemy, and Krusty's. Side note - what was CCX thinking picking Krusty's so early? I was almost positive they would be one of the last teams picked. Odd pick at that spot in the draft IMO.

But anyway...getting out of bracket play will be tough, but there is still plenty of time left for these kids and they are here for the long haul. Also on the squad is Adam Bridgeo, a promising young player who could turn into an Ace on the mound some day if he continues to sharpen his saw, and also Jeff Lopes, who sports an Ace-like drop curve. If he can add a few pitches to his repertoire, he will also be an ace in the future.

Highlanders – This is a team that had high expectations coming into the season, only for things to not fall their way throughout the summer. After winning the comeback cup and earning a spot in the big dance, this Highlanders team likely has a chip on their shoulder and wants to prove that they belong can advance to Sunday. Led by Jon “Big Mac” Marsh and Jason “Doss” Doucette…this team added lefty Chris Dinapoli in the offseason and he is one of the more underrated players in the game today. Chris, although a bit of a free swinger, can hit with the best of them and finished the year hitting .341 with 4 HRs and 20 RBI’s in the regular season, and also contributed in a big way in the comeback cup, hitting bomb after bomb to punch the team’s ticket to the Open. He is also a crafty pitcher on the mound and their ace, well known for his looping curve ball. Marsh is the other pitcher on the team and is no slouch either,

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