Missoula Paddleheads 91-71 vs.
California Coolers 103-59

Game Location Results Win Loss Save
1 at California Coolers 2, Paddleheads 1 B.Baker(1-0) Y.Darvish(0-1) C.Brogdon(1)
HR – A.Judge(1), Y.Hernandez(1)
2 at California Coolers 4, Paddleheads 3 S.Moll(1-0) J.Foley(0-1) C.Brogdon(2)
HR – R.Hoskins(1), D.Villar(1)
3 at Missoula Coolers 3, Paddleheads 2 D.Cease(1-0) Z.Wheeler(0-1) C.Brogdon(3)
HR – None
4 at Missoula Paddleheads 6, Coolers 4 (10) T.Rainey(1-0) C.Brogdon(0-1) None
HR – R.Hoskins(2), R.Grichuk(1)
5 at Missoula Coolers 7, Paddleheads 1 C.Burnes(1-0) Y.Darvish(0-2) None
HR – A.Judge(2), W.Castro(1)

(click game # for boxscore)

California wins series 4-1

Game 1 – The American League Divisional 1 between the Carew Division winning California Coolers and the Wild Card Missoula Paddleheads figured to be a closely fought, tight series despite  the #1 vs #4  seeding, as both teams fielded “Top Notch” starting pitching, very good defense, and more than adequate bats. Game 1 featured the Coolers Ace Corbin Burnes squaring off against Missoula “workhorse”, Yu Darvish.  California jumped out to and an early 1-0 lead, on a Home Run by Aaron Judge in the bottom of the first.  It remained 1-0 thru 4, as Burnes was dealing, no hitting Missoula, while striking out 5. Darvish, was dealing also, working out of a two on, 1 out jam in the bottom of the 4th. In the top of the 5th, all hell broke loose for Burnes and the Coolers as Missoula’s first 3 batters (Adam Duvall, Randall Grichuk and Rougned Odor) reached on singles to load the bases with no outs. The Coolers’ bullpen scrambled to get some arms ready. Missoula manager called on Willie Castro to Pinch Hit for Tucker Barnhardt. Burnes recovered to strike out Castro, but the top of the Paddleheads’ order loomed. Burnes tried to paint the corners, hoping for a double play or strike out, but issued a 4-pitch walk to TJ Friedl to force in a run, tying the game 1-1, still only one out. A visibly angry Burnes, shewed away the Coolers pitching coach, and Manager Roberto Blanco, relented, rolled the dice, and stayed with Burnes. The Cooler Ace responded with “Snake Eyes”, striking out Carlos Correa and Ryan McMahon to end the threat, as the Wrigley faithful went nuts. And that’s the way it stayed until the bottom of the 7th. Darvish still working, having allowed only 6 hits and no walks, gave up his 2nd Home Run, this time a 2 out bomb down the right field line, by Yadiel Hernandez, putting California up 2-1. And that was the ball game. The scrappy Cooler bullpen, held up.  Missoula got the tying run on in the 9th, on a HBP, but consecutive strike outs sealed the deal. Bryan Baker got the win, Connor Brogdon the save.  Burnes worked 6 1/3, allowing 3 hits, 2 BBs and 9 Ks. Darvish took the tough loss.

Game 2 – The Coolers started 15 game winner Nick Pivetta against the Paddleheads’ Tony Gonsolin, 10-3 with a sparkling 2.15 ERA.  The game was scoreless through 4, as neither team could muster any offense,  Missoula got things going in the 5th, 1 out back-to-back singles by Randal Grichuk and Tucker Barnhardt set the stage for Jo Adells’ clutch 2-out single and a 1-0 Paddlehead lead.  The lead was short lived as Cooler David Villar launched a 371 ft bomb to right, tying the game 1-1. Missoula countered in the 6th, as Pivetta issued BBs to Carlos Correa and Bryan Reynolds, the first 2 batters of the inning.  Manny Banuelos was brought in to relieve Pivetta.  Banuelos got Rougned Odor to hit into a double play, as Correa moved over to 3rd. Rhys Hoskins then drilled a 380 ft missle to left center, and Missoula moved ahead 3-1  Missoula’s pen kept the Cooler bats quiet, inducing rally-killing double plays in the 6th and 7th innings. With Missoula still on top 3-1, the Coolers got back-to-back singles from Brian Anderson and Manny Margot off Jason Foley to open the 8th. Foley got PH Edmundo Sosa to strike out, but Aaron Judge grounded a single between 3rd and SS loading the bases.  Brandon Hughes relieved Foley, but issued a 5 pitch walk to Kolten Wong, and the Coolers inched closer trailing by a run. Hughes composed himself and got a huge out for Missoula striking out the dangerous Villar for the second out. Francisco Mejia, the 7th Cooler batter of the inning, lined a single to right, plating Margot and Judge and the Coolers lead 4-3. That would be the end of the scoring, as Missoula went down in order in the 9th. California heads to Fenway Park, up 2 games.  Sam Moll got the win in relief, Connor Brogdon the Save. Hughes was tagged with the loss.

Game 3 – The series moved to Fenway Park, home of the Paddleheads. Missoula looking to get in the win column, rolled out their “Big Dog” Zach Wheeler. California countered with 15-game winner Dylan Cease. This game followed the same script as the first 2 games… not a whole lot of offense. Missoula opened the scoring in the bottom of the 2nd. A one-out triple by Ryan McMahon followed by a wild pitch to Adam Duvall, on an 0-2 count, plated the 1st run of the game. The Coolers countered in the 3rd; a lead off of single by Brian Anderson, a fielding error, allowing Francisco Mejia to reach, followed by a single from Amed Rosario had the Coolers set up for a big inning. Wheeler got Margot to hit into a 6-4 force, scoring Anderson, leaving runners at 1st and 3rd. Aaron Judge hit a Sac Fly to center, and the Coolers led 2-1, but that was it as Kolten Wong K’d to end the threat. That was the way it stayed, as nothing but g00se eggs were hung on the scoreboard for 4 consecutive innings. Missoula out hit the Coolers 4-1, but couldn’t push across a run. In the top of the 8th, the Coolers got a lead off double from Mejia. The Coolers got consecutive ground outs to the the second baseman, scoring Mejia to push their lead to 3-1. In the bottom of the 8th, Missoula answered back, using a familiar script for this series, plating a run using 3 singles by Rhys Hoskins, Bryan Reynolds and Taylor Walls and a ground out to 2nd. The Coolers escaped a bases-loaded jam when Tucker Barnhardt grounded out to 1st, ending the 8th, Coolers up 3-2. Coolers got a 2-out double from Mejia in their half of the 9th, but stranded him when Rosario grounded out to 1st. Bryan Baker came on in relief for the Coolers and got 2 quick outs, but allowed a single to Hoskins, putting the tying run on, and the go ahead run to the plate in the ever dangerous Carlos Correa. Manager Roberto Blanco, summoned Connor Brogdon from the pen, his 3rd appearance in 3 games. A wild pitch moved Hoskins to 2nd, and with the Missoula faithful in a full-throated roar, Correa launched a deep fly to left….and was robbed on a leaping catch by Left Fielder Yadiel Hernandez for the 3rd out! Coolers win 3-2 and hold a commanding lead in the series up 3 games. The win went to Cease, Brogdon the save, Wheeler the loss.

Game 4 – Game 4 opened with Missoula down 3 games, desperately needing a win. The matchup on the mound featured Hayden Wesneski for Missoula, while California countered with lefty Jesus Luzardo.  The Coolers opened the scoring in the 3rd inning as Brian Anderson lead off with a single to right, followed by a single by Manny Margot. Amed Rosario got another base knock, scoring Anderson. Aaron Judge then cleared the bases with a laser shot off the left field wall and the Coolers were up 3-0. To their credit, the Paddleheads could have folded, but instead rallied back. In the bottom of the 4th, Missoula closed the gap, when Randal Grichuk hit a one out, 2-run homer to left, scoring Bryan Reynolds who had singled to open the inning. Coolers up 3-2. Missoula rallied again in the 5th. A one-out single by Ryan McMahon, was followed by a double down the left line by Carlos Correa. Reynolds then grounded out to 1st, scoring McMahon, tying the score at 3-3. With Rhys Hoskin up next, Luzardo pitching carefully uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Correa and Missoula takes the lead 4-3. Hoskins then tripled, but a call to the pen, stopped the rally without further damage. The 6th, 7th and 8th inning saw neither team score, as both team squandered opportunities. In the top of the 9th, with ace closer Raisel Iglesias on for Missoula, the Coolers first 2 batters were retired quickly and Missoula was 1 out away from securing their 1st win. But the Coolers wouldn’t go away. Rosario tripled to left and Judge singled to center, tying the score 4-4.  Missoula could only muster a leadoff walk in the bottom of the 9th and to extra innings it went. In the top of the 10th, the Coolers, lead off batter David Villar was safe on an error. Iglesias than struck out PH Leody Taveras and gave way to Tanner Rainey. Rainey gave up two deep fly balls that were caught at the wall, and Missoula had life. At this juncture of the series, the Cooler bullpen was on fumes, and Manager Blanco reluctantly called on Connor Brogdon one more time, hoping for another shot in the top of the 11th. Missoula leadoff man Ryan McMahon walked, but Correa popped out, and Reynolds flyed out, bringing up Hoskins. And the big guy came through, barreling an 0-2 pitch down the left field line, and over the wall for a walk-off 2 run homer to win it for Missoula! Rainey gets the win, Brogdon the loss. The series now 3-1 in favor of California.

Game 5 – Missoula looked to keep their winning ways going after winning game 4 in dramatic fashion! A rematch of game one starters Yu Darvish and Corbin Burnes awaited the excited home crowd. The Coolers wasted no time getting things started in the top of the 1st. Amed Rosario led of with a single and promptly stole 2nd. Missoula manager Todd Easton, opted to have Darvish intentionally walk Aaron Judge, hoping for a ground out double play. But Kolten Wong foiled the strategy, singling in Rosario with the game’s first run, with Judge advancing to 3rd. Darvish got Manuel Margot to hit into a double play, but Judge scored and the Coolers were up early 2-0. It stayed that way, through the 4th as Darvish found his rhythm. Burnes, avoided trouble in the Missoula 3rd, giving up a 2-out double to Ryan McMahon and a single to Owen Miller before finally quelling the rally by getting Carlos Correa to pop out to 3rd. The Coolers finally got a big inning off Darvish in the 5th. Seiya Suzuki led off with a single and came home on Jared Walsh’s double off the right field wall. Brian Anderson followed with a single to left, plating Walsh. After deep fly out by Rosario, Judge lined his 2nd HR of the series, scoring Anderson and the Coolers had a comfortable 6-0 lead. Burnes cruised into the 7th, but quickly got into trouble, walking Kiké Hernandez. Hernandez was then thrown out trying to steal 2B. Willie Castro then belted a Burnes fastball 427 ft making it 6-1. Burnes gave up his 4th walk to the next batter Tucker Barhardt, Cooler manager Blanco, had seen enough, and called on his bullpen. Manny Banuelos came in and made quick work of the next two batters to retire the side. Missoula kept the pressure on in the 8th, loading the bases after 2 outs. Rhys Hoskins and Randal Grichuk singled and Hernandez walked. With few options in the pen, and still needing to get through the 9th, Blanco stayed with Banuelos, and was rewarded when Castro popped out to short. A huge sigh of relief for the Coolers, and a huge disappointment for the Missoula faithful. The Coolers tacked on another run in the top of the 9th, and the fans headed for the exits. Sam Moll came on and retired side in order, advancing the Coolers to their 9th American League Championship series. Burnes got the Win. Darvish the loss. Judge was the MVP batting .316, hitting 2 HRs and knocking in 7.