Due to several factors, including some games suffering rain-out postponements last Sunday in Week 4 of the PWBL, Palisades Heroes will be a combined article this time around. We will still name the 5x categories as always, including Batting + Honorable Mention plus Pitching + Honorable Mention, and of course the MVP of the Week. However, they will just be combined into this same article.
For those who follow Palisades Wiffleball closely, and definitely for those who have played in this great fast-pitch league, it comes as no surprise that Week 3 through about Week 6 is the "meat" of the season. It's that time, before the long July 4th break, when teams get to see how they stack up versus the competition, possibly make some trades or "call ups" from the Palisades' Minor League system, and generally jockey for position heading into the second half. Although Playoff berths are certainly not decided by Week 6, it can be one of the most stressful times of the season for teams in the middle of the pack or even those squads that still have a glimmer of hope to turn things around and play in the Postseason. For those of you who are relatively new to following this league, let's just say that parity, especially this year, seems to be at or near an all-time high. The difference between a 1-7 record and a 5-3 record has been in many cases hanging on a razor's edge in 2017... sometimes just one hit or even a walk for that extra base tally has been the deciding factor. With that kind of competition, and the talent that seems to just keep rising and condensing in the Palisades, "heroic" play is becoming commonplace. It's what makes the PWBL awesome to play in, and even just to follow online.
Let's take a look at who stepped up big-time when needed in Weeks 3 & 4 at Cottage Lane in Blauvelt.
BATTING HONORABLE MENTION: (Week 3) Phil "The Linesman" Fresiello
LONG ISLAND POWER AUTHORITY - Employee of the Month
Phil Fresiello, with a league-leading (5) Homeruns this spring, is clearly moonlighting for the LIPA. Some guys deserve a cool nickname, so from now on I'm calling Phil "The Linesman" because every time he goes out there he's looking to "power you up". In Week 3 back in late May, Phil battled hard versus outstanding velocity and stuff thrown by Palisades rookie Dan Whitener. Late in the game, Fresiello finally caught up with a Whitener pitch and sent it into orbit over the left field wall on Field 2. A solo shot isn't always the biggest deal, but Fresiello's dinger basically beat the Yanks 1-0 and kept he Giants on-track at a 4-2 record. This also came the game after Tim McElrath suffered an apparent elbow injury to his right arm, so the G-Men needed a win badly. Phil Fresiello has obviously seen some high-class wiffleball in his 31 years, and he's starting to turn heads when he comes to the plate now in the PWBL.
BATTING HONORABLE MENTION (Week 4): Greg Tyler of the Yankees wins the Batting Honorable Mention award for Week 4. Last Sunday, as the rain moved in, Tyler had a quietly influential doubleheader on a day when offense was down across the board. Greg hit everything but a homerun, and mixed in his usual great at-bats with some 6+ pitch walks to help turn around a Yanks' offense that had been anemic at best through the first 6 games.
OLD SCHOOL HEADGEAR... MODERN BAT
BATTING AWARD: (Week 3) Jimmy "Gas House" Cole
Not sure the Cardinals saw their season opening up at 0-4 in the first two weeks. Unfortunately, that's what happened. They have lost, through four weeks, about as bitterly as you can lose in the Palisades, including several 1-0 defeats or total-bases losses in late innings. Currently at 1-7, they are now facing absolute "must-win" scenarios each doubleheader, if they want to still try to make the dance come September. That being said, they do have talent, including Jimmy "Gas house" Cole. This guy is a newer Palisades' player but clearly no stranger to great wiffleball. He looks like he stepped right off the train during the Great Depression with the cap he wears. (Hence the new nickname) To be honest, I love the look... especially when he rakes league pitching like a Branch Rickey phenom call-up. In Week 3, Cole gave the redbirds some hope, blasting (2) HRs on Field 3 and driving in 5 to power the Cardinals to their first win of 2017. If Cole can find the "rail-station" and get to a string of games, I would not say the Cards are100% dead and gone just yet.
BATTING AWARD (Week 4): Ty "T-Weg" Wegerzn wins the Palisades Heroes Batting Award for Week 4. There was not much offense last Sunday, June 4th, probably due to solid veteran pitchers taking the carpet as well as pretty dismal rain showers by mid-afternoon. Only (3) homeruns occurred all day in Week 4, and these were hit in the 12:20pm games before it got nasty out. Wegerzn's solo shot versus the Diamondbacks led off the doubleheader, and it would be all Ty needed for "self-support" as he went on to throw a 1-Hitter against a very solid Snakes' lineup to put the Expose at 5-2. (See Pitching - Week 4)
CLASS OF 2012...
PITCHING HONORABLE MENTION (Week 3): Ryan "Kid Filthy" McElrath
With the influx of great Golden Stick WL players into the Palisades over the past two seasons it's sometimes easy to forget how awesome some of the "homegrown talent" has been over the years at Cottage Lane. One of those talents has been Ryan McElrath. Ryan has battled back from a serious arm injury in 2015 to again become one of the PWBL's best pitchers. We're talking here about arguably the best statistical, regular season pitcher in Palisades' history, (check his career line if you're a doubter) and it's always a brutal challenge to try to hit off this guy. In Week 3, Ryan took over for his twin brother after Tim suffered what appeared to be an elbow strain and had to shut it down. Ryan dueled Yanks' Ace Mike Weiner in that first game of the doubleheader and the Giants only took the loss on total bases in a 0-0 tie across 6 innings. McElrath then took the carpet again in game 2, facing off against fire-balling rookie Dan Whitener from Virginia. Ryan again silenced the Yankee bats over 4 more innings until Phil Fresiello's HR put the Giants ahead 1-0. McElrath finished out that game with a 1-hit shutout, the 28th shutout of his amazing career.
PITCHING HONORABLE MENTION (Week 4): Tim Caulfield came up from the Palisades' minor league, where he enjoys competing with friends in the "AAA league", to fan (16) of the Giants on the way to a total-bases victory to keep the Brewers at least viable for now. Caulfield has, without a doubt, "major-league wiffleball stuff", and he showed it in Week 4. The Giants' lineup is not soft at all, and Tim threw his trademark fastball along with a bunch of unscuffed power-curves on the way to his fourth Palisades' Win and fourth career shutout. This young man must like his friends a whole lot in AAA wiff, because he has a job waiting for him as a staff ace on many PWLB teams anytime he wants it.
THE #1 KEEPS GETTING BIGGER EACH WEEK..
PITCHING AWARD: (Week 3): Mike "the #1" Weiner
The Yankees, along with the Cardinals, have lost tough this season. Most of that has been because their offense did not show up at all until June. That has put a lot of pressure on staff ace Mike Weiner, who typically is tasked with facing off against other teams' best hurlers each Sunday. In Week 3, Weiner again displayed why he won the PWBL Cy Young Award last year, throwing a No-Hitter against a good, 3-man Giants' lineup and outdueling both McElraths over 6 innings of work. As long as he stays healthy and not overworked, Weiner puts the Yankees in a position to win each time he takes the carpet. Mike's great performance in Week 3 allowed his team to gain a much-needed victory and avoid the desperation of falling far behind the pack before the July break.
PITCHING AWARD (Week 4): Ty "T-Weg" Wegerzn got lit up and was wild on Opening Day back in late April against the Dodgers. Probably only his team owner, Anthony Didio, and a few others knew or believed that "T-Weg" can most definitely pitch and was capable of righting the ship. Fast-forward to a few Sundays later, and Wegerzn had shut down the Yankees in Week 2 and the Brewers in Week 3 to help get the Expos to a 4-2 record. In Week 4, he tossed a 1-Hit Shutout versus the dangerous Diamondbacks lineup to push his team to an unexpected 5-2 through the first 7 games of 2017. Ty Wegerzn is one of the best examples of how much the Palisades has been transformed by great wiff players coming in from the GSWL and beyond. He's proving to be a threat with the bat and with his arm... and although numerically young he is quite obviously an old, battle-hardened veteran of many high level wiffleball games.
"PAGING DR. ROBLES... PAGING DR. ROBLES..."
MVP of the WEEK (week 3): Jordan Robles
Nicknames are neat, but some players just don't need one to be cool. However, if Jordan Robles had a nickname it would be "The Surgeon", because he can cut your lineup apart so effortlessly when he's going well that you won't even wake up until the procedure is over. In Week 3 he did just that to the scuffling Mariners', slicing them with his trademark rising fastball and power-drop arsenal. Normally a pitcher doesn't win MVP of the Week without also batting-in some runs or otherwise contributing offensively, but Jordan tossed a surgical Perfect Game against a highly motivated Mariners' squad which moved the Padres to 4-1. This carpet outing sent a message out to the league: before it's over, the PWBL Championship may well end up going past the young golden arms of Jordan, K-Von, and Sean Ryan.
WINNING WITH THE ARM... AND THE LUMBER
MVP of the WEEK (Week 4): Mike "the #1" Weiner
It's not possible to predict wiffleball outcomes easily, but one thing is pretty certain: the Yanks would be in some deep trouble without the services of Mike "the #1" Weiner this season. He singlehandedly beat the Padres back on Opening Day and in Week 3 tossed a No-Hitter versus the Giants to win a 6 inning bloodbath on total bases and keep the Yanks' season viable. In Week 4, all Weiner did was throw a second consecutive No-Hitter in the first Yanks-Cardinals game and drive in his squad's only run for a 1-0 victory. In the second game of the doubleheader, Mike took advantage of a slightly tiring Rob Longiaru who again took the carpet for the redbirds, and lining a grand slam over the left field wall of Field 1. The Cardinals, although scrapping the rest of the way, never really recovered from Weiner's "salami" and the Yanks finished Week 4 at .500. With a 4-4 mark they still have a decent chance to make the Playoffs... mostly thanks to Mike Weiner's arm and his bat.