The Washington Resonance team has been in the American Federation Baseball League (AFBL) since its inception in 2017. The team had never won the Federation Cup.
The team had its glory years from 2024 through 2034, making the playoffs every year during that stretch save for 2027. In 2031 the Resonance won 104 games. In 2034 they won the Frontier League championship for the first time (despite winning just 80 regular season games). But they could not beat the Ohio Knights in the Federation Cup.
After 2034 Washington did not make the playoffs again until 2047. In 2048 the team won their second Frontier League championship but lost the Federation Cup to the North Carolina Aviators in a heart-breaking nine game series.
The 2049 edition of the Resonance was arguably not as strong the 2048 team that won 98 games. The preseason prediction was for an 82-80 record, good for fourth place in the AFLB Frontier West.
But the Resonance far exceeded that prediction. A great month of August (21-6) got the team home in first place with a 91-71 record. Still, the team batting average was down from .286 to .279. And the team ERA was up dramatically from 3.83 to 4.58.
And winding up the season with three straight losses to New Mexico didn’t exactly set the team up well for the playoffs.
Furthermore, on October 5th, ace starter Jesus Cruz (the 2048 and 2049 Pitcher of the Year) suffered a herniated disc and would miss the entire playoffs.
First up in the playoffs was divisional rival Oregon who had actually finished one game ahead of Washington in the regular season.
Game 1 (loss): After being down 8-0 after seven innings, scoring two runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth only got the Resonance close. Robinson Fernández was touched for 13 hits in five and a third innings.
Game 2 (win): Juan Santiago had only 13 starts during the regular season after returning from elbow reconstruction surgery, and his 2-1 record (4.80 ERA) was uninspiring. But today he was brilliant, allowing just three hits over seven innings in a 5-0 shutout win. The Resonance made its six hits count.
Game 3 (loss): Juan Ramos was horrible on the mound. Six team singles and a triple by Kieran Wynn were hardly enough offense in a demoralizing 9-2 loss.
Game 4 (win): Mike McDaniel got the win with five shutout innings but tore his labrum and will be out for the rest of the year. With Cruz already on the Injured List, the pitching situation now looked bleak.
Game 5 (win): Fernández was better than in game one and got the 4-3 win as Alex Murdock and António Saucedo combined for five hits including Saucedo’s three-run homer.
Game 6 (win and advance): Juan Santiago was good again and Florencio Xarito’s solo blast in the seventh was the winning run in a 3-2 pitching duel. Juan Magana earned his third playoff save.
Next up were the 101-win Kentucky Lions, the best team in the Frontier League, fresh off winning four of five games against New Mexico.
Game 1 (loss): It was 4-4 after nine. Washington scored three in the top of the eleventh and had victory (almost) in hand. Alas, in the bottom half Sergio Robles got only one man out while allowing two walks, a double, and three singles and Kentucky prevailed 8-7.
Game 2 (win): With McDaniel hurt, the fourth rotation spot was filled by inconsistent swing man Chet Ward. He allowed just two runs over five and two thirds. Aurelio Villarreal, who got the win, and Eric Higson closed it out as José García’s solo dinger in the seventh proved to be the difference.
Game 3 (loss): Kieran Wynn’s home run provided the only offense, and a good effort by Robinson Fernández was wasted in a 3-1 loss.
Game 4 (win): Juan Santiago and Jeff Schroeder, who got the win, were good enough as home runs by José García and António Saucedo highlighted the offense in the 7-4 win.
Game 5 (loss): Washington squandered a 5-4 lead when Lion Gianni Girard poked a two-run shot off Sergio Robles in the eighth inning. The Resonance were now one game away from elimination.
Game 6 (win): Everyone expected game two starter Chet Ward to be on the mound in this must win game. But the surprise starter was rookie Dan Bruce who was 1-3 with a 6.67 ERA during a regular season that was spent mostly in AAA ball. He was called up to replace the injured Mike McDaniel on the roster after the first playoff series. Bruce went six innings and gave up just one unearned run. Then Sergio Robles blew the save by allowing the tying run in the eighth. Juan Magana got the win when José Morales tripled to lead off the bottom of the ninth and scored on Jesús Miranda’s sacrifice fly.
Game 7 (win): Robinson Fernández was brilliant allowing just one run in eight innings. The Resonance had eleven hits including home runs by Kieran Wynn and José García in the 4-2 victory to send Washington on to the Federation Cup.
The Ontario Blue Pirates had swept North Carolina and lost only one game to Virginia in getting to the best-of-nine Federation Cup.
Game 1 (win): Fifteen hits and eight runs, highlighted by home runs from Ernesto Campos and José Morales, were easily enough for José Santiago to notch his third playoff win. He got three plus brilliant relief innings from Aurelio Villarreal. Washington won 8-3.
Game 2 (loss): Starter Juan Ramos and reliever Chet Ward pretty much stymied Ontario. But three Pirate pitchers held the Resonance to just six singles. The result: a tough 2-1 loss. Ward was a starter for the Blue Pirates for seven years (2040-2046).
Game 3 (loss): Mike Maldonado (who ended up being the series MVP while hitting better than .536) had four hits in a 6-2 Ontario win. Four Pirate pitchers allowed just two runs on solo shots by António Saucedo and José García. Juan Gonzalez got the fourth rotation spot start over both Chet Ward and Dan Bruce.
Game 4 (win): Washington managed just four hits, all singles. Two singles and an error got a run in the first. Ontario tied it up in the sixth. In the eighth inning lead-off man Alex Murdock was hit by a pitch and was then sacrificed to second. With two out Kieran Wynn singled him home to take a 2-1 lead. In a dramatic last of the ninth Jonathan Coker led off with a double against closer Juan Magana. Joel Beck singled to left, but Ernesto Campos’s arm in left field kept Coker from trying to score. Magana, with runners on first and third, no one out, struck out Tony Brin and got Mike Daniels to hit into a game ending double play.
Game 5 (win): Kieran Wynn had a double and a home run in this 3-1 victory. He had all three runs batted in. Juan Santiago got his fourth playoff win with help from Eric Higson and Juan Magana. Santiago allowed just two hits in his seven innings.
Game 6 (win): 14 hits and 12 runs were plenty for an easy 12-5 win. Alex Murdock, Pepe Bautista, and Ernesto Campos combined for eight hits. José García hit a home run. Juan Ramos lasted only four innings. Aurelio Villarreal got the win but was hit hard in his one and third innings. Chet Ward was the pitching star with three and two thirds innings of shutout pitching.
Game 7 (win and the Cup): It was an offensive battle which saw the lead change hands several times. Washington tied it up 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth when Ismael Garza doubled home António Saucedo who had walked. The ninth inning was surreal. Closer Juan Magana got the first out, but then allowed a single, another single, and a double. Ontario had a 7-5 lead. In the bottom half of the ninth, ace Pirate closer Ken Daniels stayed on the mound despite having allowed Garza’s double in the eighth. Daniels started off badly by walking weak hitting Florencio Xarito. Alex Murdock followed with a single. Pepe Bautista, playing in his first playoff series ever, singled to load the bases with no one out. Daniels then struck out dangerous José García and Kieran Wynn. With the bases loaded, two out, last of the ninth, down two runs, up stepped league MVP third baseman Antonio Saucedo (arguably the best ever seventh round draft pick). BOOM! Walk off grand slam home run! Washington owned their first ever Federation Cup.
In the days to follow, champagne, parties, and parades were on the agenda in Seattle and all over Washington.
PLAYOFF DISSA AND DATA
Pepe Bautista had just two plate appearances during the regular season. He walked once and struck out once. The rest of his season was spent in AAA. Surprisingly he was added to the playoff roster for the final series. He replaced slumping Dan Barnard who was hitting under .100 in the playoffs. Bautista started five of the seven games in the series and batted .350. At age 23 Bautista projects as the starting first baseman for the Resonance next season.
Interestingly, the offensive-oriented Resonance relied as much on pitching as they did on hitting. Bautista was the only player to hit over .300 for the playoffs and he played only in the final series. José García the team led in home runs with seven. Kieran Wynn led with seventeen runs batted in. Alex Murdock had six stolen bases.
Juan Santiago was great (12-4) in 2048 until he went on the injured list in late August. He would miss eight months. After a five game rehab stint in AAA, he returned to the Resonance at the end of July. He struggled for awhile but seemed to be returning to form as the season ended. Washington won all five of his starts in the post season, and he recorded the victory in four of them. His 2.84 post season ERA and 0.88 WHIP earned him the outstanding pitcher award for the post season.
Backup catcher José Carmona and backup outfielder Ronnie Carriere never got out of the dugout in the post season. Reserve outfielder Arlen Bailey’s only appearance was in right field for the final three outs of the series after Ismael Garza aggravated his weak knee running the bases in the eighth inning.
Left fielder Ernesto Campos hit only .183 for the post season and shortstop Florêncio Xarito only .180. Both stayed in the lineup throughout the post season because of their defense. Campos’s arm saved runs, and Xarito executed critical double plays at crucial times.
The happiest member of the Resonance may have been Chet Ward who toiled in the Ontario rotation for seven years (2040-2046), compiling a 59-90 record and never making the playoffs.