The Spring 2018 Championship Series will feature two teams that have never won an MABL title. The West Maui Brewers, who finished the regular season in 1st place after going 10-3, defeated the Central Rays 2 games to none to advance to their first Championship series since the Spring 2011 season. They will face the Kihei Centipedes, who went 9-4 in the regular season to get into the playoffs as the 2nd seed before beating the Upcountry Dirtbags 2 games to 1 to advance. The Centipedes joined the league a season after the Brewers, for the Summer 2010 campaign, and made a lone previous Championship series appearance during the Summer 2015 season.
The Brewers’ trip to the Championship is the culmination of several seasons of improvements. After seasons of 4, 7, and 10 regular season wins, they have turned their second consecutive 10-win season into their first Championship berth in 7 years. Only Andy Michaels, an original Brewer, remains on the roster from that team. The Brewers have relied on tremendous seasons from pitchers Enmanuel Yajure Peña (8-2 record with a 2.64 ERA in 61.1 regular season and playoff innings combined) and Rafael Fuentes (2-1 with a 3.13 ERA over 46.0 IP), as well as breakout offensive performances from Ken Henry (.440/.594/.520 AVG/OBP/SLG with a league-leading 23 runs scored during the regular season and playoffs) and Yajure Peña (.420/.467/.594 with 8 extra-base hits including a playoff round tripper against the Rays at Maehara).
The ‘Pedes are returning to the Championship series after 3 years after adding a couple key pieces, and improving their win total by 3 from a season ago. Rookie shortstop Jordan Hansen leads all batters since the start of the season with a .460 batting average and .700 slugging percentage, while Tyler Falco has hit a combined .327 and gone 3-2 on the mound. The Centipedes’ pitching staff is lead by Randy Button (5-2 with a league-leading 1.48 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over 61.0 IP during the regular season and playoffs). In addition to Hansen, the Centipedes offense has been paced this season by Ryan Swindle (.433/.485/.517), who leads the team with 26 hits, and third baseman Shaun Doyle (.381/.469/.429) in his second full season with the team.
The Brewers and Centipedes faced each other three times during the regular season, with all three contests being decided by 2 runs or less. The Centipedes came back from a 6-run deficit to beat the Brewers 13-12 on February 11, and remained in 1st place until the April 17 rematch, under the lights at Maehara Stadium. Enmanuel Yajure Peña out-dueled Randy Button to move the Brew Crew into the top spot in a game that featured a total of 22 strikeouts. Playoff seeding was cemented during the final week of the season, when Yajure Peña and Button faced off again (and combined for 25 strikeouts) and the Brewers edged out a 4-3 victory.
The MABL Championship Series will begin on June 24 at Maehara stadium; first pitch at 10:00am. The best-of-three series will conclude the following week. Come out and enjoy the action, and witness the crowning of a new Maui Adult Baseball League champion.