The Rhein Rockets have topped Richardson Pioneer Men’s Fastball League for 2020, but it was not an easy win.
Friday night at RE/MAX Diamond in Wadena saw an intense ball Game 1 in the league finals against the Rosebud Royals.
Veteran pitcher Terry Peppler, celebrating his 59th birthday, was in the circle for from the Rockets facing 16-year-old Koby Faubert. Both proved dominant with neither allowing many base runners in a low scoring battle.
Finally though, the Royals came out on top with error free defence and a great display of ‘small ball’ to score some of their few base runners with bunts, stolen bases and clutch hits.
The Royals jumped to a 1-0 lead in the third but Evan Neibrandt quickly tied it up with a solo home run in the top of fourth.
The Royals speed was showcased in the bottom of six with Carter Petersen getting a lead off bunt single between third and the pitcher and then stealing a base which was followed by a 0-2 single by Luke Scutchings.
Scutchings reached third after a steal of second, and getting to third on an error.
Lucas Ochitwa’s scored Scutchings on a groundout to give the Royals a lead 3-1.
The Royals shut the Rockets bats down once again in the top of seven for the win.
Koby Faubert was the winning pitcher.
Peppler took his first loss of the season, not the birthday present he was hoping for.
The teams met again for game two Saturday, this time on the Rockets home field in Rhein.
Game two was a back and forth game.
After two scoreless innings Dave Renkas put the first run on the board with a solo home run for the Rockets in the home half of the third.
Each team got one in the fourth with veteran Terry Peppler back in the circle and pitching himself out of a bases loaded one-out situation with two strikeouts, both rung up for the out without offering at the third strike.
The Junior Royals took the lead in top of the sixth with four runs putting them to 5-2.
Rhein answered back with one in their at-bat in the sixth.
Terry Peppler shut down the Royals in the top of the seventh, sending the Rockets to the bottom of the seventh down three, and facing a series loss .
In the bottom of seven the Royals gave up one then with two on and two outs Brett Peppler launched a walk off home run to win game two 6-5.
With the series tied at a win each the modified best-of-three kicked in leaving the fate of the series to a sudden death extra inning style game.
The extra inning started with a runner on second to start the inning and the Junior Royals took advantage of that. After loading the bases, two on intentional walks, clean-up Hitter Carter McLean hit a long fly ball scoring Logan Schultz on the sacrifice fly.
Again the Rockets went to bat in the bottom of the inning needing a run to stay alive in the championship
In the bottom of the inning with Adam Neibrandt on second to start the frame Evan Neibrandt hit a line drive triple in the gap to tie the game.
The Junior Royals gave Reeve and Peppler intentional walks to create a force play at home.
However with Aaron Rathgerber up a wild pitch reached the screen allowing Evan Neibrandt to score from third and claim the Richardson Pioneer Men’s Fastball League Championship.
It was the first championship for the Rockets who joined the league in 2018. They lost in the finals in 2018, and semi-finals in 2019, before the win Saturday.
The pitching match-up in the final showed the diversity of age in the League with Peppler being 43 years senior to Royals Pitcher Koby Faubert, who took the losses.
The Junior Royals had a great season and have proven to be a strong team despite being all teenagers. The team has been in the league since its inception only clamming two wins in the first threee years. They continued to work hard and develop to the point where they had a 5-6 record in 2019 and knocked off the 2018 Champs is the playoffs. This year the boys had a winning record and were one out away from the League Championship.
The Playoff Most Valuable Player Award was shared between Rockets Evan Neibrandt and Terry Peppler.
Past MVPs include; Mike Jordan, Dusty Keshane, and James Holowaty.
Past winners of the league include; Wynyard Blues 2018 and 2016, Stoney Creek Braves 2017 and Rosebud (Sr) Royals 2019