MISHAWAKA - The 2022 Old Republic Wiffle®Ball League season opened up on Sunday afternoon in conditions far more suited for the British Open than wiffleball.
However, the New Carlisle Newts (2-1) were able to fight through a chilly, blustery day to win their Opening Day series against the Mishawaka Meatspins (1-2), 8-5, 21-8, 7-8.
Austin Traxler made an immediate impact in his debut for Mishawaka, doubling and scoring in the first and then homering in the second to give the Meatspins the early 2-0 advantage. Traxler went three for five in the opener, scoring all three times he reached base.
New Carlisle got off to a cold start. Flipping the script of Opening Day 2021, in which the Newts unleashed a barrage of eight consecutive home runs to start the season, Mishawaka starting pitcher Anthony Rieff retired the first eight hitters of the series. Rieff’s early sprint toward a perfect game ended on a Koby Keck home run to center field which just cleared the outstretched arm of Joey Schuster.
New Carlisle would tie the game an inning later, when Garrett Curless led off the fourth with a solo shot.
Curless again played long ball in the fifth inning, this time with Aidan Cotter aboard to give the Newts their first lead. Matt Soos tacked on a home run of his own to make the score, 5-2.
Cotter sat Mishawaka down in order in the bottom of the fifth, and his offense gave him three more runs in the top of the sixth on back-to-back-to-back jacks, by Curless, Scott Soos, and Matt Soos.
Despite an adventurous sixth inning, which featured home runs by both Anthony and Austin Rieff, Cotter was able to hold off the Meatspins for the first victory of the season.
Game two provided the offensive explosion more reminiscent of last season’s opener. Up 3-0 after two, the Newts began pouring it on with three runs in each of the third, fourth, and fifth innings. In the sixth, New Carlisle put up nine runs to put the game out of reach at 21-2.
Cotter was magnificent on the mound through five innings, scattering just three hits through those frames. He ran into a late roadblock, as Mishawaka put up six runs in the final inning to give the game its final score of 21-8.
Matt Soos led the way with five home runs in the ballgame, his brother Scott and Cotter added four each, while Curless belted another three. Noah Shail, hobbled by a bad ankle, checked in with one dinger as an extra hitter.
Opening up the finale, Soos, Soos, and Cotter went back-to-back-to-back to give New Carlisle a three-run head start.
After an Anthony Rieff homer in the bottom of the first, Scott Soos and Cotter answered in the second with long balls to put the Newts up 5-1.
Traxler cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second with a two-run blast, and tied the game at five in the third with another one.
Austin Rieff would give the Meatspins a brief lead in the bottom of the fourth, sending a liner over the left field fence to make it 6-5. But again, Scott Soos and Cotter answered with a pair of dingers in the fifth to flip the score to 7-6 in favor of New Carlisle.
The Newts were unable to push across any insurance runs in the top of the sixth, which proved to be fatal to the hopes of a sweep. After Schuster was retired on a ground ball, Anthony Rieff and Traxler went back-to-back to salvage the finale for Mishawaka.
Taking a week off for Mother’s Day next Sunday, New Carlisle continues its season-opening road trip on May 15 against the Twin Branch Billy Goats (2-1). First pitch is slated for 1:00 pm EDT.