With just three outs between the Biscuits and their first championship in a decade, fans were crushed to hear as the Montgomery squad was defeated by the Lookouts in the final inning of the last game.
For the Lookouts, it was a storybook finish. A walkoff homerun in front of the hometown fans to win the pennant. For the Biscuits it was a painful snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory.
Here is how it happened:
Relief pitcher Ian Gibeaut took the hill for the save, nursing a one-run lead.
Then Jonathon Rodriguez dispatched Ian Gibeaut's first pitch over the left field fence for a two run homerun, sending the Biscuits to defeat.
|And that was it.|
CIUFFO CALLS IT
Before the Biscuits left for Chattanooga, I had a chance to chat with Skitz catcher Nick Ciuffo about how he handles pitchers and opposing hitters.
We talked briefly about pitch selection and he told me that he tries to call for pitches that mix up hitters, changing speeds and location, based on what he felt a hitter was unable to handle.
However, he made mention of one Biscuit pitcher by name in the conversation. "When you have a guy like Gibeaut, someone who throws like, a hundred miles an hour... there just isn't a lot that needs to go into pitch selection. Just throw it until they show they can hit it."
YOU JUST KNEW IT
If you have been watching Biscuits baseball for the past season or three, you knew the Lookouts were a tough opponent.
You also knew that Ian Gibeaut was probably going to throw a hundred mile an hour heater. You also probably knew that Jonathon Rodriguez knew it too.
And you probably weren't that surprised when the Lookouts stormed the field and celebrated winning the 2017 Southern League Co-Championship.
Third straight postseason appearance.
Got deeper into the playoffs than any Biscuits team since 2007.
Scared the HELL out of Lookouts fans, who went into the series expecting a three game sweep.
Thrilled Montgomery fans who went into the series expecting a three game sweep.
Came within three outs of shocking the league and proved to be more than anyone expected.
BEST PART IMO
There is no blame to assign. It's not Ian Gibeaut's fault, or Nick Ciuffo, or Brady Williams or Bill Buckner. No bad calls, no missed opportunities or men left on base.
The Lookouts won it honorably, beating perhaps the hardest thrower on the staff in a real mano-a-mano faceoff. Serious baseball for all the marbles and no crying when its over. We threw our best pitch and they hit it.
Good game, Lookouts.
GOT NO BIZNESS BEING THERE...
BUT THERE THEY ARE
|Sometimes you just grab it|
They didn't win the division in either half. If they played in the South Division, they wouldn't have won there either. They didn't have the best home record, they didn't have the best road record.
The few top prospects on the team were quickly promoted. The star centerfielder was traded mid-season. Only one hitter reached double digits in homers. Only one pitcher topped 100 innings pitched.
The team struggled to hit home runs, giving up nearly twice as many as they hit.
Also, the team changed owners during the season, providing off field distractions. There were many reasons to expect the Biscuits would not even make the playoffs, much less threaten to steal the pennant from the 90-win Lookouts.
Yet there they were, carrying a one run lead into the last inning of the last game of the year.
NO QUIT IN BISCUITS
What they didn't have was QUIT in their vocabulary.
Refusing the be turned away, the Biscuits vanquished every other foe in the division and forced a rematch with their nemesis Lookouts. That the final inning didn't include a double-play and a popup resulting in a Biscuits championship is the only blemish on a stellar season.
"How does this team compare to the other teams in Montgomery history?" Biscuits manager Brady Williams asked me at the final homestand.
Best team in ten years, at least. Maybe more.
AROUND THE HORN
A few notes I picked up....
Voted "Cutest Couple" (by me, of course) the Winkler family was one of my favorite experiences this summer, catching occasional glimpses of people being real is always a treat. Best of luck to them, no matter they decide to do.
Catcher Mac James and reliever Jordan Harrison are not convinced the stories of 1909 Detroit Tigers catcher Charley "Boss" Schmidt are true. When they heard about Boss driving nails into the floor and pinning a circus bear in a wrestling match, James asked me "Ever hear of Paul Bunyan?"
Yes, Mac, I have. But even Paul Bunyan didn't manage to beat Ty Cobb to a pulp.
Coach Gary Redus told me he expects to return to the Biscuits next season. Redus lives in Alabama and enjoyed being close to home, as well has getting a chance to take in the area golf courses.
I found Redus to be a brilliant defensive strategist, his positioning of Biscuits outfielders was a mostly unnoticed strength of the team. He got along well with the fans and brought big league respectability to the coaching staff.
Also expected to return is radio announcer Chris Adams-Wall. Chris has provided a steady, reliable voice to the team broadcast and has built a nice rapport with fans. Chris has praised my defensive ability, which shows he does still have much to learn about baseball, but is a great broadcaster nonetheless.
HAIR STYLINJonny Venters is jealous of the flow.
One of them asked how long I had been growing my prodigious mane, and I gave my stock answer which comes in the form of a question.
pitcher "When's the last time you cut your hair?"
me "What year were you born?"
me "It was before that."
This launched the players into a conversation about their own hair, what product they used, who had the longest hair and who left it laying in the shower. Real manly stuff.
|Ian Gibeaut and his flow|
"Don't listen to him, he's bald as a cue ball. Dude is just jealous of a good flow."
A hush fell over the bullpen and I tried to decide if it was because five of the seven guys were shaved bald or if it was that I had just backtalked the big leaguer.
Venters broke the silence with a laugh, saying "Well, yeah, you bet I am!"