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OOTP 19 - Fictional Simulations Discuss fictional simulations and their results in this forum.

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Old 03-20-2019, 12:58 PM   #1
naterg1
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Professional Baseball League of Arizona

Why I joined The Athletic and what you can expect from me.

My name is Nathan and I love baseball. You see, Iíve been watching, reading about, researching and writing about baseball all my life. The Athletic recently started publishing a number of historical articles in a variety of series, some of which have covered leagues that are a little, shall we say, obscure. Those articles were apparently extremely popular on the site, and I saw an opportunity. An opportunity to write about something I love, alongside some of the best writers in the world.

My favorite baseball in the world takes place in the state of Arizona. Itís knocking own as the Professional Baseball League of Arizona, or PBLAZ for short. Iíve been watching and studying the league for most of my life, and I think youíre going to love it. Iím going to write about the league from the beginning. When Iím done with that, Iíll pick up with whatís happening in the league today. Thereís a lot of history here. I believe itís fascinating.

A few things about the league before I really get started.

1. Itís been around as long as the state has. Itís first season was in 1912.

2. The league doesnít feel like other early 20th Century baseball. Itís much more like the modern day MLB.

3. The league was conceived as a way to instill pride in the early citizens of
the state.

4. The league has a few quirks that were the result of early conversations, arguments, and compromises among the founders.

5. There have been a few sub .500 teams that have made the postseason. I know, I know...

6. There are a lot of wonderful and exciting stories wrapped up in this leagueís history. Great baseball games, talented baseball players, intriguing managers, fascinating fans, and many more fun things will be covered. I hope you will enjoy reading along as much as Iím going to enjoy sharing it with you.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:06 PM   #2
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Letís begin our story with the first official announcement of the players that would make up the 10 founding teams. The ten general managers and their scout teams held tryouts for about six weeks or so leading up to the New Yearís Day announcement of who would be playing in the league. Each team signed 25 players to their active roster, and another 25 to their reserve roster.

The actual unveiling was quite an event, including a stunt horse riding show, a marksmanship competition, three bands, several speeches, and a lot of alcohol. People traveled from all around the state to learn about the new baseball league. Players were paraded out in their uniforms to thunderous applause.

There were 5 teams in the Eastern Conference. The East was expected to be the stronger conference. It was believed that all five teams would have a chance to make the playoffs.

Early projections were that Flagstaff would be a competitive ball club in 1912. They were considered to be a team that was good, but not great, on offense, defense, and pitching.

Outfielder Orlando Avila and Starting Pitchers Edgar Quintailla, Deole Cooper, and Kelvin Augustin were generally considered to be the best players on the team going into the season.

Here is the first team picture for the Flagstaff Axemen.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:07 PM   #3
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Now for the Florence Flames initial 25:

Florence was considered a playoff contender on the perceived strength of their pitching staff. Scouts were not impressed with most of the teamís offensive pieces.

Starting Pitcher Jason Pengra and Closer Jeremy Cline were especially highly regarded by scouts.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:09 PM   #4
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Up next is the Douglas Jackrabbits:

Scouts did not like much about the Douglas pitchers, projecting them to give up more runs than any other team in the league by a wide margin. The only pitcher they like on the team was starter Josh Sheppard. Scouts, however, believed that the Jackrabbits might have enough offense to overcome their poor pitching. The offensive stars were thought to be Left Fielder Rich Tidwell and Center Fielder Chris Kelly.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:10 PM   #5
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The next team in the East was the Nogales Black Knights:

Nogales was picked to finish in last place in the East. Their top player was projected to be Third Baseman Brian Raphael.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:10 PM   #6
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The final team in the Eastern Conference was the Tucson Turtles:

The Turtles were expected to win the East with a strong offense, led by Second Baseman Eddie Dollars and decent pitching, led by Starter Josh Simpson.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:12 PM   #7
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There were also five teams in the Western Conference:

The first team is the Tempe Bulldogs:
Tempe was the favorite to win the most games in the league, with a strong offense led by Center Fielder Scott De Lorenzo and a quality pitching staff, anchored by Starting Pitchers Tyler Craig and John Howard.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:13 PM   #8
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The next team in the West was the Glendale Redbirds:

Glendale was considered the third best team in the West. Their offense and pitching were both considered respectable, but a level below the true playoff caliber teams in the conference.

Offensively, they would likely be led by Third Basemen Kevin Wade while none of the pitchers were expected to stand out as exceptional.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:14 PM   #9
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The next team in the Western Conference was the Mesa Spiders:

Mesa was considered the second best team in the West. Center Fielder Bill Howard was expected to lead the He best offense in the conference. The pitching staff was not expected to be great, but it was thought to be respectable enough to keep Mesa near the top.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:15 PM   #10
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The fourth Western Conference Team was the Phoenix Dust Devils.

The Dust Devils were considered to be in a similar condition as Glendale, not good enough to compete for a playoff spot. Their best offensive player was expected to be Center Fielder Devon Carlson. Their best pitcher was expected to be Starter Nick Fowler.
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Old 03-20-2019, 01:16 PM   #11
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The final team in the Western Conference was the Prescott Timberwolves:

Prescott was viewed at the worst team in the league going into the 1912 season. Third Baseman Ben Lewis didnít seem to have much support on the offensive side of things and the pitching staff seemed to be in bad shape all around.
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Old 03-20-2019, 02:49 PM   #12
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Itís April Foolís Day, 1912, and ten Arizona baseball teams take the field for the first time in games that mean something. Sure, they played a few games during Spring Training, but those games were meaningless in a competitive sense. Lets take a look at some of the firsts for each team on this historic day.

GAME 1:

The Nogales Black Knights played host to the Tempe Bulldogs.

Nogales sent southpaw starter Ryan Gaskin to the hill. He threw a first pitch strike.

The first error in Nogales history was committed by 3B Brian Raphael as he misplayed a grounder in the top of the 2nd inning. Amazingly, even though there were 5 runs scored in the inning, none of them were the result of the error.

Raphael then led off the the bottom of the 2nd with a double, the first hit in Black Nights history. He came around to score the first run for Nogales as 2B Randy Page delivered an RBI double. That was the first RBI in franchise history.

Brian Raphael continued to rack up franchise firsts as he hit the first home run for Nogales in the bottom of the 3rd.

On the other side of things, the Tempe Bulldogs sent right handed pitcher Tyler Craig to the mound on opening day. His first pitch was a ball. He retired the side in order in his first inning of work. He sustained an injury in the 2nd inning and had to leave the game.

CF Scott De Lorenzo delivered the first Tempe hit, when he ripped a single into right field on a 1-1 pitch to lead off the game.

C Abel Parr hit a grand slam into left field in the top of the 2nd, for the first home run, RBI, and grand slam in franchise history. Three pitches later, De Lorenzo hit a solo home run, the first back to back home runs for Tempe.

After being hit by a pitch in the 4th inning, De Lorenzo stole the first base in Bulldog history.

In the bottom of the 6th inning, 3B Chris Khalife committed the first error for the Bulldogs. He misplayed a ground ball and allowed the runner in second to score.

Tempe got the win on opening day, 8-5. Relief Pitcher Matt Nelson got the win after coming in to replace the injured Tyler Craig. Closer Ryan Barton picked up the franchiseís first save. Ryan Gaskin picked up the loss after allowing 5 runs in only 1.2 innings for Nogales.
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Old 03-20-2019, 03:35 PM   #13
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The Glendale Redbirds played on the road against the Tucson Turtles.

The Redbirds sent LHP Dennis Gunderson to the mound on opening day. His first pitch was a strike. He pitched a perfect first, including a strikeout to end the inning.

CF Robert Day struck out looking as the leadoff man for Glendale in the top of the 1st.

1B Kymani Sinclair picked up the first hit for Glendale, a single leading off the 2nd inning.

In the 6th inning, Robert Day drew a walk, and then scored the teamís first run when LF Ryan Winterbottom pulled the franchiseís first home run into the left field bleachers.

CF Blake Mattinson, who had pinch hit for Day earlier in the game, misplayed a line drive into center field with a man on third in the bottom of the 7th allowing a run to score. It was the only error for either team on the day.

The Turtles gave lefty starter Josh Simpson the nod on opening day. His first pitch was fouled off, and he had a strikeout three pitches later.

With one out in the bottom of the 2nd, SS Ryan Noble delivered Tucsonís first hit, a single into left field. He then came home to score the teamís first run when he tagged up on CF Chris Colemanís sacrifice fly to center.

2B Eddie Dollard hit the first home run in franchise history with a man on in the bottom of the 3rd.

Josh Simpson got the win as Tucson outscored Glendale 9-3. The save went to right handed reliever Gregg Sheridan, who pitched 2.2 innings and came in before the Turtles broke the game wide open. The losing pitcher was right handed reliever Danny Vaccaro.
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Old 03-20-2019, 03:45 PM   #14
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The Phoenix Dust Devils hosted the Flagstaff Axemen.

The Dust Devils called in RHP Nick Fowler to start game 1. His first pitch was a ball, but he retired the side in order in the 1st.

RF Cody Kelley was the first man to ever reach base for Phoenix, drawing a walk with one out in the 2nd.

C Josh Jackson picked up the first base hit in Dust Devilsí team history when he singled up the middle to lead off the bottom of the 3rd.

2B Manny Cueto committed a costly error in the top of the 5th, which allowed a run to score.

After SS Nate Dean doubles to lead off the bottom of the 6th, he scored the teamís first run when CF Devon Carlson hit an RBI double into left center field.


Flagstaff sent RHP Edgar Quintanilla to the hill for opening day. His first pitch was a ball, but he retired the side in order.

3B Larry Sykes picked up the first franchise hit leading off the top of the 2nd inning with a line drive single into left field.

C Billy Gonzalez threw the ball away for the Axemenís first error in the bottom of the 2nd, but no runs scored as a result.

1B Jeremy Elliot smashed the first home run for Flagstaff, with a 392 foot blast into left-center field. That two run home run brought home CF Mike Powell for the first run in franchise history.

Flagstaff won the game 4-1. Edgar Quintanilla earned the win with 5.2 strong innings. Closer Isaiah Brennon picked up the first save for Flagstaff. Nick Fowler ended up getting tagged with the loss, despite only allowing 2 earned runs in 6 innings of work.
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Old 03-20-2019, 03:53 PM   #15
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The Prescott Timberwolves played at home against the Florence Flames.

RHP Mike Rolf got the start for Prescott and threw a ball in his first pitch. He hit a batter with one out in the 2nd, but didnít allow a base hit until the 4th inning.

1B John Terpstra singles on the first pitch he saw to lead off the bottom of the 1st inning. He also scored the first run in franchise history when 3B Ben Lewis hit a 376 ft home run to left field, driving in the first three runs for Prescott.

The next batter was 1B Bill Rupp, who hit a home run, joining Lewis as the first Prescott Duo to go back to back.

Ben Lewis became the first player in the history of the league to hit 2 home runs in the same game when he hit a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the 9th.

The Florence Flames sent LHP Jason Pengra to the hill in the opener. His first pitch was knocked back up the middle for a single. At the end of the 1st inning, he was trailing 4-0.

1B Jeff Chesney was hit by a pitch with one out in the 2nd to become the first batter to reach base for the Flames.

RF Nick Williams singled to lead off the 4th, collecting the first hit in franchise history. One pitch later, he was out as the front end of a double play.

LF Steve Kemp then hit a solo home run to give Florence its first ever run.

In the 6th inning, CF Rich Proctor singles and stole a base. The Flames went on to score 6 runs on 7 hits in that inning.

Prescott went on the win the game 10-6. Jason Pengra got the win. CL Jeremy Cline earned the save. Mike Rolf started strong but fell apart and picked up the loss.
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:01 PM   #16
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The Mesa Spiders played host to the Douglas Jackrabbits on opening day.

RHP Bobby Compton got the start for Mesa and after throwing his first pitch for a strike, he allowed 3 runs on 4 hits in the 1st inning.

2B Jeff Beasley walked with one out in the bottom of the 1st to become the teamís first base runner. He then got caught stealing.

C Jon Simon picked up the first hit in Mesaís history with a leadoff single in the 3rd. He then stole 2nd base and came around to score when Jeff Beasley reaches on an error.

The teamís first RBI didnít come until LF Matt Bracken hit an inside the park solo home run with two out in the bottom of the 6th.

CF Bill Howard drove in two runs with a single in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the game and force the first extra-inning game in league and franchise history.

C Jon Simon won the game with a two-run walk-off home run to left field. The first walk-off hit of any kind for the Spiders, but also for any team or player in the league. When he crossed the plate, Simon scored his 4th run of the game.

Douglas sent RHP Josh Sheppard to the hill on opening day. His first pitch was a called strike.

Jackrabbits leadoff man, left-fielder Scott Kevin doubled to lead off the game and came around to score the teamís first run when CF Chris Kelly doubled two outs later to get the teamís first RBI. Kelly also hit a two-run double in the 5th and an RBI single in the 7th to drive in 4 runs on the day.

Relief Pitcher Nick McCoy threw wildly on a pickoff attempt in the 6th inning for the teamís first error. It did not directly lead to any runs scoring.

The Mesa Spiders won the game 10-8. Right handed reliever Jonathon Jones pitches a perfect 10th to get the win. Douglas right handed Greg Gambill faces three batters in the bottom of the 10th, allowed a double and a home run, and picked up the loss.
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:11 PM   #17
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PBLAZ April 8, 1912: Tucson Turtles at Flagstaff Axemen

It was cold, 35 degrees at game time. The pitchers had a hard time getting loose, and it showed early. Deole Cooper stepped on the mound with long sleeves and long underwear under his uniform. He had struggled to locate his pitches in the bullpen but he hoped things would go better now that he had adrenaline on his side.

Ball one.

He shook it off and fired again.

Called strike-right where he wanted it.

He got ahead in the count when Tucson leadoff man Ben McDaniel fouled the next pitch straight back.

Unfortunately for Cooper, things went downhill from there.

McDaniel got jammed on the next pitch but was able to drop it into left-center field for a leadoff single.

Steve Stoddard stabbed at the next pitch and sent a scorching grounder past the bag at 1st for a double. McDaniel was forced to hold at 3rd, but the Turtles were in business.

Next up was 25-year-old switch-hitting second baseman Eddie Dollard. He hit a sharp line drive into short right field to drive in the game’s first run. Stoddard had to stop at third, but the Turtles had the lead.

37-year-old catcher Justin Blohm was another switch-hitter. He got ahead 1-0 and crushed a fastball down the line in left for a three-run home run, extending the lead to 4 before Flagstaff ever came to the plate.

Cooper was able to collect himself and get out of the inning with no further damage done.

Tucson starter Matt Bastow looked sharper early. He mowed down the first three batters he saw, feeling good about the big lead he was handed by his teammates.

Cooper got off to a better start in the 2nd, striking out the first two batters he saw, but it was short lived. The top of the order came up and took control. Stoddard and Dollard each singled and Blohm drove in his fourth run of the game with a single of his own. Cooper and the Axemen were down 5-0 after one and a half.

Bastow retired the leadoff man to make it four in a row, but a Mike Powell double and an RBI single by Larry Sykes quickly put Flagstaff on the board. The score remained 5-1 until Flagstaff leadoff man Danny Wolcott smacked a 1-2 pitch down the line in left that bounced around enough to let him circle the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Then, two batters later, LF Orlando Avila made it 5-2 with an opposite-field home run.

Cooper finally retired Stoddard to lead off the 4th, but was unable to record another out. Eddie Dollard picked up his third single in as many at-bats, stinging a sharp grounder through the hole at short. Justin Blohm stepped up to the plated and delivered a crushing line drive to left. It took an unexpected bounce off the wall and Blohm ran as fast as he could. He was a 38-year old, 5’9”, 215, catcher who was considered one of the slowest players in the league. The ball eluded fielders like it was being remote controlled from the Tucson dugout and Blohm came all the way around to score with an inside-the-park home run, giving him six RBI on the day.

Lefty Chance Beto came in and retired the next two batters with the Turtles leading 7-3.

Flagstaff scored twice in the 4th, when CF Mike Powell doubled to lead off the inning and came around to score on a double by DH Phil Thooft. Catcher Christian Bush followed that up with a run-scoring single two batters later and the Turtles were back in the game, down only 2.

Beto fell behind Roy Lewis 2-0 and grooved a fastball that the left-fielder sent deep to right for an unbelievable combined third inside-the-park home run in the game. Tucson led 8-5 after four and a half.

Bastow was removed from the game after allowing the first two Axemen in the 5th to reach base. Right hander Ron Stewart wasn’t able to put out the fire, allowing two singles and throwing a wild pitch to let two more runs in and pull Flagstaff within one run.

Beto was taken out of the game after allowing a leadoff single to Stoddard in the 6th. Righty Chris Galasso was brought in to try to find a way to retire Dollard. He was unsuccessful, as the second baseman laced a double down the third base line for his fourth hit of the day. Stoddard wasn’t able to score on the play and the Axemen did not want to take their chances with Blohm. They walked him intentionally to load the bases with no outs. After a shallow fly out, RF Ryan Noble drove in two with a double after fouling off several pitches to work the count full. Galasso then balked in another run to push the Turtles in front 11-7.

Eddie Dollard came up again in the 7th inning, and singled for his 5th hit on the day. Justin Blohm drew a walk but the Turtles weren’t able to capitalize.

Flagstaff pulled back within two when Thooft knocked in two runs with a double in the bottom of the 7th.

With two out and runners on first and third in the top of the 8th, Steve Stoddard came through with a run scoring single. That’s when Eddie Dollard came to the plate and picked up his second RBI and sixth hit of the game with a single up the middle. Blohm is walked for the third straight plate appearance but the Turtles left the bases loaded, now leading 13-9.

Flagstaff pulled closer in the 8th inning on a 2-run home run by 2B Brian Wade. That brought the score to 13-11. Neither team would score again. Tucson closer Chris Lawrence came in to finish the game and earn the save in the 9th.










Eddie Dollard was born in Phoenix on July 10, 1886. His friends, family, and teammates all talked about how hard he worked. Dollard played second base during the 1912 season, with scouting reports generally stating that he was an above average defender with a below average arm. Offensively, he was an above average hitter from the right side and an elite hitter from the left side of the plate. The only weakness scouts saw offensively was that he didn’t walk as much as they would have liked. Dollard was not fast, but made up for it with smart and aggressive base running. He was immensely popular from the very beginning of the league. He hustled on every play and was always friendly with his fans.




Justin Blohm was born in Phoenix in July 4, 1874. He was nearly 40 when he joined the league but was thrilled to have the opportunity to play. Brohm worked hard every day to make sure he was in great playing shape. He was a catcher who was know more for his bat than his glove, with scouts giving him just a 35 out of 80 in defense. He was a switch hitter who was about league average from the right side, but hit very well from the left. He was slow, and described as an unnatural base runner. He was, however, extremely popular in the clubhouse and with fans. He had a great sense of humor and a magnetic personality.
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:15 PM   #18
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Kelvin Marin turned 29 one day after Arizona became an official state. He was excited for the opportunity to be part of the new baseball league. He was born and raised in Glendale, and had never been to Douglas before signing on with the Jackrabbits. He didnít love the town right away, but it had grown on him over the past couple of months. Marin was known as a bit of a selfish player. The right-handed second baseman was viewed by scouts as a slightly above average hitter without much power, who was just ok in the field. The fans werenít quite sure what to make of him at first either. That changed on May 16, when he gave them a night to remember at the ballpark.

Marin hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first to put his team ahead. It was a scorching line drive that cleared the fence easily.

With the score tied at one and a man in first in the bottom of the third, Marin blasted his second home run of the day. He got under this one a little bit more but it landed about 5 or 6 rows deep in the bleachers.

In the 4th inning, Marin came to bat with his team leading comfortably, with the score sitting at 6-1. Flagstaff brought in a new pitcher to face him, but he took the first pitch he saw out to left again for his third home run in as many at bats. The crowd cheered wildly and Marin came out to tip his hat to his fans.

Marin came up again in the 6th and got ahold of a 1-0 pitch. He drove it to right-center, where it hit the base of the wall. Marin couldnít quite get that fourth home run but he did end up with a double. He walked in the 8th inning to complete an impressive effort, going 4-4 with 3 home runs, 4 runs scored, and 4 RBI.
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:19 PM   #19
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The first All-Star game in PBLAZ history took place on July 2, 1912 in Tempe. It ended up being a great baseball game, with some outstanding performances.

The Western Conference got on the board first when Devin Carlson of the Phoenix Dust Devils pulled a 1-1 pitch into the left field bleachers with two out.

Mike Campion of the Douglas Jackrabbits evened the game up with a two-out home run of his own in the bottom of the 1st.

Kyle Vault of the Mesa Spiders continued the fireworks show by hitting a leadoff home run in the 2nd, giving the West a 2-1 lead.

The West looked like they might pull away in the top of the 3rd. Devon Carlson picked up his second hit of the game with a single to right. Then Matt Bracken of the Mesa Spiders crushed a 427 ft home run to right-center field to give the West a 4-1 lead.

Kelvin Marin of the Douglas Jackrabbits singled with one out in the bottom of the third, then moved to third when Ryan Van Dorn of the doubled to left. A passed ball allowed Marin to score and the East pulled within 2.

The game stayed 4-2 until the bottom of the 6th. John Marek of the Florence Flames doubled to left and moved to third on a groundout. He scored when Nick Williams, also of the Flames, singled. The next two batters singled as well to load the bases, but they werenít able to get any more runs out of the rally. The score was 4-3 West.

Jaylen Lucas of the Tucson Turtles entered the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 7th and promptly tied the game with a home run that just cleared the right field fence.

The game remained tied until the top of the 9th when Devon Carlson picked up his third hit and second home run of the game. Two batters later, Ben Lewis of the Prescott Timberwolves homered as well and the Western Conference came away as winners in the first PBLAZ All-Star Game, 6-4.
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Old 03-20-2019, 04:38 PM   #20
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By the end of July, each ten had played 80 of their 120 games. Here is a look at the standings heading into the final two months of the season.

The Eastern Conference was definitely stronger than the Western Conference. There were four teams in the East with winning records, while the West only had one.


JULY 31, 1912

EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

Tucson Turtles 54-26
Florence Flames 44-36 10 GB
Douglas Jackrabbits 44-36 10 GB
Flagstaff Axemen 43-37 11 GB
Nogales Black Knights 30-50 24 GB


WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

Mesa Spiders 46-34
Phoenix Dust Devils 37-43 9 GB
Prescott Timberwolves 36-44 GB
Glendale Redbirds 35-45 11GB
Tempe Bulldogs 31-49 15 GB


Tucson and Mesa looked to have a pretty solid hold on their division leads while the races for the second playoff spot in each division were tight, and still included all but one team. Nogales seemed to be out of the race in the East. They might have had a shot had they been in the West.
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