‘Rewarding’ city title for BC Merchants after losing last summer
In 2020, Jack McCulley had his team ready to go, prepared to win. And then the season was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Battle Creek merchants and the rest of the city’s baseball teams would have to wait another year to play for a title.
That made the victory in 2021 even sweeter for the Merchants, who won the title in the City Major Division’s 90th baseball season on Monday.
AFTER: 90 years of City League baseball in Battle Creek
Battle Creek merchants swept the Shamrocks for gold in the first two games of the City Major Division League playoffs on Tuesday at Nichols Field in Bailey Park.
The Merchants finish as the 2021 City Champions after beating Shamrocks Gold, 3-1, 4-2.
“Winning is gratifying after not playing last year,” said McCulley, the Merchants’ longtime manager. “We started the season last year, we did a lot of training and we thought we had the qualities of a strong team, better than the year before when we didn’t win.
“Then the city closed it, so it was a sad, really depressing situation not to play ball. So that makes this championship even more rewarding. There is more satisfaction, because a lot of guys who were going to play there. last year came back and we had the chance to play this year and we were able to win it. “
With the title of the city, merchants win the automatic auction for the 107th edition of the NABF World Series, hosted by Battle Creek August 4-8 at Bailey Park.
The Merchants were last city champions in 2018 after back-to-back titles. The Michigan Tigers edged out the Merchants in 2019.
Veteran Merchants pitcher Reggie Walters, who was one of the city’s final two title teams, made a one-set save in the title game on Monday.
“It was great to have a season this year, to be back here. It was kind of normal,” said Walters. “In 2019 we were knocked out by the Tigers and it was bitter. We didn’t have a chance to make up for that last year, so coming back to the World Series is exciting.”
Monday’s doubles program featured two low scoring contests.
The Merchants won Game 1 with Brenden Gausselin winning the start on the mound and Cam Bortell winning in relief, limiting Shamrocks Gold to one point. Cam Reichel of the Shamrocks had a daring pitching performance in the loss.
In Game 2, the Merchants took the lead early after a single produced by Gausselin and, later, a wild pitch, produced to lead to a 2-0 lead in the third.
Bortell produced a run with a ground ball chosen by a fielder to take the late lead at 4-1 in the sixth. Adam Dorstewitz, who throws for Kalamazoo College, took the win for the Merchants.
Races were hard to find for both teams, despite some traffic on the base trails.
“We missed some opportunities,” said McCulley. “Twice we’ve had the goals loaded, once without an out, once with an out, and we didn’t score. They made a basic mistake and they don’t score. The game turns on these key situations . “
While the merchants were made up of several varsity and post-varsity players, Shamrock Gold was mostly made up of recently graduated high school students and freshman varsity players.
“We are a young team,” said Kevin Kemerling, manager of Shamrocks Gold. “It’s a veteran team there and we spent some time with them. It’s a good experience for our guys. A lot of them are getting ready for the varsity ball and it was a good experience.”
A possible match 3 was scheduled for Wednesday. However, with the title clinched, the Merchants can focus on Game 1 of the NABF World Series, where they face Berea, Ohio on August 4 at CO Brown Stadium.
“When we came here today our plan was to win two. We didn’t want to come back on Wednesday and play again because you never know what will happen then. We wanted to finish things tonight,” McCulley said. “When you start the season your ultimate goal is to reach this World Series and that was on our minds tonight as well.”
Bill Broderick can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @billbroderick.