PWL’s final Sunday the last two seasons has been jam packed with not only the World Series, but the return of the All Star Game, the Home Run Derby, and the season ending awards Champion’s Dinner. This season, an additional feature was added that mad it a long, but productive day to close the Spring Season.
The PWL Nationals, a team of league all stars, who are heading to the NWLA Tournament July 18-20 in Columbus, OH, hosted the defending tournament champions Tampa Bay Wiffleball Lightning in a three game exhibition series to get ready for Ohio on Sunday, June 22nd.
TBW were the runners up in the inaugural 2012 tournament, and in a rematch beat the OCWA Freaky Franchise to claim the title in 2013. The PWL team improved in 2013, and has an overall middle of the pack record of 5-8 through two tournaments.
Rosters were expanded from 6 to 8 for this year, and the PWL held open tryouts, the first in league history, to put together the final team. [ Meet the Team ] Three new players are joining five returning veterans for this edition.
Commissioner Gallaway extended the invitation to TBW to come to Washington, DC for the exhibition series.
“I wanted the defending champs to come in here, kick our ass, and make us a better team heading into the tournament,” Gallaway said. “They definitely kicked out ass, whether or not it made us better we’ll have to see in Ohio.”
TBW flew to DC late Friday and spent Saturday touring the city via Capital Bikeshare, avoiding one close call which almost made the team one Harley brother short. The team then joined Commissioner Gallaway, Kevin Higman, and the Shannon brothers at Nationals Park to watch the “MLB Nationals” take on the Braves.
Sunday morning started early with the series set for a 9:30 AM start to be completed before the World Series. TBW won the first game 13-6 despite a 3-2 PWL lead through four innings with Jack Shannon and Stephen Crawford both throwing two effective innings. A 9 spot allowed by Chris Fantasia without recording an out did the Nationals in though, with Matt Gagnon coming in for mop up duty the last two innings.
Game two ended little better for the Nationals, losing 17-4, with the teams playing six despite the run rule being applied after the 4th. Spencer Howard allowed five runs through three innings, and the Nationals trailed by a run when TBW pounced on Matt Gagnon who gave up 12 runs over the final two innings.
Game three was shortened to four innings due to time, with the Nationals ahead of the Lightning at the time 7-5. The Nationals hammered TBW’s Derek Linderman in the bottom of the first inning before being held scoreless in the 2nd and 3rd.
Despite the outcome of the games, the practice was beneficial to Commissioner Gallaway in planning strategy for Ohio.
“We’re going to make a standing offer to the tournament champs, whoever they end up being this season to come to DC, unless it’s WSEM. The exhibition was great, and a great way to kick off our tournament experience,” Gallaway said.