Week 1 2017
Back again, by popular demand, is the Palisades Heroes series. Each week, five players will be acknowledged for what they did behind Cottage Lane on Fields 1-3. As in the past, there will be a Batting award, a Pitching award, plus an "Honorable Mention" in each of these categories, and of course also the coveted "MVP of the Week" award. This award process is somewhat arbitrary, but selections are usually made based on "heroics" instead of simply bloated statistics. In this way, a late inning, game-changing hit can be valued far more than going 5-for-9 plus 3 walks in a total rout, where your team did not require extra runs to win. Also, some weight is often given to players whose teams were either underdogs, or more likely, players whose teams really needed that "W" to stay in the post season hunt during the mid-to-late summer.
So, let's get onto it. Here are your Week 1 2017 "Palisades Heroes" winners!
BATTING "HONORABLE MENTION: Mike (the #1) Weiner
The Yankees had lost their first game, despite valiant pitching by Greg Tyler, to the Mariners. John Istorico was simply too strong to solve and only allowed four total bases across five innings. Therefore, the Yanks needed to win their second game against the solid Padres' squad to avoid opening the season 0-2. Mike Weiner and Kyle Vonschleusingen dueled for several innings, and then Weiner temporarily lost command and walked in a run. Down 1-0 entering the 5th inning, the air was coming out of the Yankees' sails. Greg Tyler walked, Muschinsky struck out, and then Mike Weiner stepped up and smashed a dropping screwball against the wind over the Right Centerfield fence on Field 3. It was about as clutch of a Homer as you see in the Palisades. Weiner then shut down the Padres enough in the bottom of the 5th to propel the Yanks to a much-needed 1-1 Opening Day record.
BATTING AWARD: Anthony (A-Bev) Bevilacqua
OLD MILWAUKEE'S FINEST
Everybody loves a comeback story, right? However, when it's a comeback involving one of the quietest, classiest players in the history of the Palisades... then it becomes a great story. Bevilacqua missed all of the 2016 season with leg issues and other obligations. His return to the PWBL was not a guarantee for several reasons. Fortunately for fans of the league, as well as fans of A-Bev, Anthony did return and did it in remarkable fashion in Week 1. Facing the favored Diamondbacks, Bevilacqua helped Paraskevas' Brewers out with a key HR late in the first game of the doubleheader. This shot sent several messages via "airmail" to the league: first, A-Bev is back, second, that the "Brew-Crew" may not quite be the push-over underdogs that some believed they might be all season. Bevilacqua's dinger pushed the "Crew" over the Snakes in that first game, and he also went on to rake some other shots all over Field 2 later in a losing effort in Game 2. Congrats to Anthony Bevilacqua, a professional hitter, who returned in amazing style from a 16+ month layoff and injury.
PITCHING "HONORABLE MENTION": Dakota Kenny
As is often the case with Palisades wiffleball, several pitchers threw unbelievably well on Opening Day. That made awarding the pitching categories very difficult. John Istorico shut out the Yankees, Jordan Robles dueled returning star Matt Fliesser across 6 innings, etc. However, this week's Honorable Mention Pitching award goes to Dakota Kenny. Kenny took the hill, under some complaints about having to start already in April, and served up some of the old fire to the Diamondbacks. He tossed 4.33 innings of shutout wiff versus one of the tougher offenses in the PWBL, and then humbly suggested that Joe Schaefer go get the last couple outs. Although some pitchers threw statistically better games in Week 1, DK's outing helped keep the Brewers out of what would've become an 0-2 start, which would have merely confirmed many opinions that the "Crew" is looking ahead to a long season of drudgery. It's possible the Brewers may struggle, but Kenny's arm kept the buzzards away and the doubters at bay for now.
PITCHING AWARD: Oliver Avallone
YOUTH... AND MATURITY: A DEVASTATING COMBO
Watching Oliver Avallone mature into a truly solid staff Ace has been wonderful to watch over the past couple of years. He has every factor you'd ever want in an Ace-level pitcher: accuracy, above-average velocity, solid pitch arsenal, durability... and over the past 12 months... that intangible desire to take the ball and shut down opponents. You can't teach that last point, a pitcher either has it or he doesn't. Ollie does. On Opening Day, Avallone tossed 11 total innings, scattered 7 hits and most importantly threw two Shutouts versus the Cardinals. Although the Cards' offense is not the scariest in the entire league, Avallone's pitching helped get the Royals off to a 2-0 start. This was probably not predicted by many, although it was certainly possible. Kudos to Ollie, a young man who has developed his pitching skills to the point of being able to dominate a whole doubleheader like few hurlers can.
MVP of the WEEK: Gerard (Modello-Man) Fitzgerald
There are often several candidates for MVP of the Week. It's always tough to choose just one. That being said, when you "go yard" off of both McElrath brothers in the same doubleheader, throw 10 total innings for a team thirsting for enough pitching help, and basically will your squad to a 1-1 split versus a strongly favored opposing team... all before May even rolls in... then you deserve the MVP of the Week award. Fitzgerald took the mound in both games against a solid Giants' lineup featuring "the Kingston Twins" and power threat Phil Fresiello. Fitzgerald managed to keep the Astros in both games, with some help from his teammates including Bobby "Mr. Furious" Daly who notched a dinger himself. Fitzgerald's presence, both in the lineup and his gutsy carpet-work over the day made the difference between the Astros starting out very badly, (and being possibly demoralized) and them starting 1-1 and right in the mix with most other squads after Opening Day. Congrats to Gerard... a guy who says little but whose play speaks volumes on a wiffleball field.