STANTON - With an 11-7 win over Mosquito Inn/Computer Mechanix (Toivola) Tuesday night, the Stanton Wildcats wrapped up a dominant 14-1 regular season record with another commanding outing.
That was the easy part.
Stanton has put together a run of success in the Twilight league similar to the Atlanta Braves of the 90's. That is both a compliment and a curse.
Trent Keteri picked up the 11-7 win for Stanton Tuesday night with a seven inning complete game effort. By starting Keteri, Stanton manager Daron Durocher was able to rest his top two pitchers, Mike Richards and Eli Luoma, for the upcoming playoffs. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
For all the regular season success Stanton has enjoyed, similar playoff success has eluded them.
"We have made the playoff finals the last nine years, but we have lost seven of them," Stanton manager Daron Durocher said. "The (Braves) are the comparison that I have made most often. We always seem to get there, but something then goes against us."
So what exactly has plagued the Wildcats when it comes to the final three game series?
MI/CM 0021301 - 7 9 2
Stanton 241220x - 11 12 0
Winning Pitcher: Trent Keteri, 7 IP, 7 R, 9 H, 0 K, 3 BB
Losing Pitcher: Robbie Baril, 6 IP, 11 R, 12 H, 1 K, 2 BB
Mosquito Inn: Steve Lishinski, 2-for-2, 2 BB, 2B, RBI, run; Robert Brooks, 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Stanton: Daron Durocher, 2-for-2, 2B, RBI, 2 run; Mike Richards, 2-for-3, HR, 3 RBI, 3 run.
"It's clutch hitting," Durocher said. "We haven't been blown out, we have been in every game. It just seems that we get a lot of guys on base, but we can't bring them in."
Well if streaks mean anything in baseball, Stanton shouldn't have to worry about a lack of run support Tuesday when they host MI/CM.
The Wildcats have scored at least nine runs in eight consecutive games, averaging 11.25 runs per game in that span.
According to Durocher, this is a departure from past precedent, where Stanton would start the season hot but then lose momentum by the end. He is hoping the consistent hitting up and down the lineup will carryover seamlessly into the playoffs.
"It's everyone at every spot, one through nine," Durocher said. "I feel like I can plug any guy in anywhere and he is going to produce."
And with a recent power surge, the Wildcats' excellent ability to get on base has converted to an extremely high scoring system, with doubles and homers galore driving in each walk and single.
Tuesday, Mike Richards jacked a two-run homer in the fifth inning - his second of the season - to give Stanton its 10th and 11th runs and Richards his 17th RBI of the year. Durocher, Eli Luoma and Brooks Olson doubled as well, while Stanton scored at least once in the first five innings.
This brings Stanton's extra base hits total up to 46 in 15 games with a team slugging percentage of .550 to go with a team .440 on-base percentage.
"The middle of the order is really starting to provide that power," Durocher said. "Josh (Hibbard) had three homers in three games, (Josh) Koskela has four homers on the season, Eli (Luoma) had hit a couple recently and now Richards is getting into it.
"I already hit my one of the season, so that's all I'm good for," he added with a chuckle.
And where clutch hitting has been a postseason concern, last year it may have been the starting pitching that undid Stanton's chances. The only true starter the Wildcats possessed was Luoma, who tired a bit at the end of the year.
Now, with Richards and Luoma as a concrete one-two duo, and high schooler Trent Keteri - who picked up the win Tuesday with a complete game - serving in a support role, Durocher doesn't even have to think about the pitching going into the playoffs.
"Eli is more rested, Richards is rested, those guys are ready," Durocher said. "We know we are going to get a good outing from each of them.
"Last year Eli threw a lot of innings and I think it showed towards the end of the year. This year I have been able to conserve him a bit more, and ever since the (Leo) Durocher Memorial Tournament, he has been lights out."