The Boston Bees captured their first PGBL World Series championship in franchise history, topping the St. Louis Clydesdales in six games.
The Bees on the brink of elimination against London in the North League Championship Series, but rallied to capture the pennant on a walkoff homer by Luis Torrens. After dropping Game 1 of the World Series in 10 innings, Boston won three straight to put the trophy within fingertip reach.
While an 11-6 loss in Game 5 prevented a home-field celebration at home, the Bees posted a 6-4 win in the return to St. Louis to claim the title. Rookie first baseman Frank Schwindel, who hit .423 in the series with at least one hit in every game, became the league’s first No. 1 overall draft pick to finish the season as the World Series MVP.
Boston’s win avenged previous World Series losses to Oakland (2019) and Memphis (2004). The Bees opened the playoffs by outlasting Norris Division rival Chicago, as Alex Cobb and Tyler Duffey combined to shut out the Cardinals in the decisive fifth game.
The Clydesdales, seeking their second crown after beating Pittsburgh in 2015, reached the SLCS by surviving a five-game division series matchup with the Melee. St. Louis then built a 3-0 series lead on Dublin before edging the Guinness in Game 5 to seize the pennant.
Two teams that combined for 220 wins carry the top seeds into the 2022 PGBL postseason, as the North League playoffs open with two division rivalries and the South League sees three 100-win Confederate Division teams in the mix.
Led by two-way star Shohei Ohtani and slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Toronto Tigers charged to 111 wins and the Maple Leaf Division crown. They face the wild card London Arsenal to open the quest for the first championship in franchise history.
The other side of the NL bracket has the Norris Division-winning Boston Bees squaring off against the six-time champion Chicago Cardinals. Rookie first baseman Frank Schwindel and 20-game winner Zack Wheeler lead the way for Boston, while Chicago claims 13 players who hit double-digit homers and five pitchers with more than 10 wins.
The Berkeley Berks won an SL-best 109 games and will be seeking the franchise’s third title in the past four seasons. They face a challenge from a fourth-seeded Dublin Guinness squad that won 101 games and features superstar ace Jacob deGrom, who broke Pedro Martinez’s single-season ERA record.
The defending champion Memphis Melee get started on the road against the Confederate champion St. Louis Clydesdales. Southpaw Ranger Suarez posted a 20-6 record with a 2.02 ERA for St. Louis, while the Melee came one Juan Soto homer shy of having four 30-bomb mashers.
Nashville center fielder Cedric Mullins homered on the first pitch in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the North League a 5-4 victory in the 21st PGBL All-Star Game.
Mullins greeted Flagstaff’s Jose Berrios with a drive over the Great American Ball Park fence to finish off a back-and-forth affair as neither team ever led by more than a run.
Homers bookended the contest, as Berkeley catcher Yasmani Grandal opened with a shot off Toronto’s Shohei Ohtani to put the South ahead right away.
Tigers second baseman Jose Altuve picked up for his Toronto teammate with a two-run single off Dublin starter Jacob deGrom in the bottom of the second.
The Berks’ Tyler O’Neill put the SL back in front with a two-run shot off Boston’s Zach Wheeler in the top of the fourth, but Chicago shortstop Brandon Crawford responded with a two-run poke off Berkeley ace Max Scherzer in the bottom half.
The South got even in the top of the eighth against Cardinals closer Mark Melancon with Aaron Judge of St. Louis singling home Whit Merrifield of Las Vegas. Melancon managed to preserve a tie by stranding Judge at third.
Liam Hendriks of Pittsburgh and Jordan Romano of Compton set both sides down in order in the ninth, and Hendriks worked a second perfect inning in the 10th to set the stage for Mullins.
With the win, the NL reclaimed the series lead at 11-10 while improving to 3-0 in extra innings, with the first two wins coming as the visitors (2003, 2015).
Max Scherzer now stands alone with the most PGBL All-Star selections without making a start.
Scherzer headlines the list of South League pitchers and reserves chosen for the 2022 game being hosted by the London Arsenal. The North League’s bench includes Ottawa third baseman Josh Donaldson, who matches NL starting second baseman Jose Altuve of Toronto as a six-time All-Star.
One of a pair of All-Star aces for league-leading Berkeley, Scherzer earned his seventh selection to the midseason showcase, putting him in a five-way tie for second most behind Albert Pujols – and breaking a tie with Chris Sale for the most appearances without beginning the game.
Conversely, Scherzer’s fellow Berks ace Trevor Bauer was picked for his first All-Star Game, joining 32 newcomers split evenly among the two rosters. It’s a group that includes a host of veterans, including Chicago shortstop Brandon Crawford, London southpaw Danny Duffy and Boston pitcher Zach Wheeler.
Berkeley led the way with seven total All-Stars, followed by Memphis with six. Five Arsenal members will play in front of the home crowd at Great American Ball Park, as London matched Chicago for the most NL representatives with five apiece.
Six players will be their team’s lone representative, including starting SL designated hitter Bryce Harper of Tijuana. Josh Hader was also chosen from the Tequila Swiggers before being traded to Toronto, and is replaced on the squad by Flagstaff’s Jose Berrios. The other solo selections are Cedric Mullins of Nashville, Brandon Lowe of Vancouver, Whit Merrifield of Las Vegas, Anthony Santander of Louisville and Tony Kemp of Twin City.
A total of 36 first-time All-Stars were split evenly among the two teams. Included among them were 10 starters, three for the South (Wander Franco, Matt Olson and Tyler O’Neill) and five for the North (Byron Buxton, Brandon Crawford, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Frank Schwindel and Ramon Urias).
SOUTH LEAGUE ALL-STARS Pitchers Jacob deGrom, Dublin (SP) Trevor Bauer, Berkeley Jose Berrios, Flagstaff** Corbin Burnes, Memphis Emmanuel Clase, Dublin Josh Hader, Tijuana* Lance Lynn, St. Louis Jordan Romano, Compton Casey Sadler, Berkeley Max Scherzer, Berkeley Ranger Suarez, St. Louis Cole Sulser, St. Louis Brandon Woodruff, Compton Reserves Carson Kelly, Berkeley Paul Goldschmidt, Compton Whit Merrifield, Las Vegas Tony Kemp, Twin City Bo Bichette, Flagstaff Jose Ramirez, Dublin Bryan Reynolds, Compton Luis Robert, Memphis Aaron Judge, St. Louis Anthony Santander, Louisville Yordan Alvarez, Flagstaff Lineup C – Yasmani Grandal CF – Fernando Tatis Jr. RF – Juan Soto 3B – Nolan Arenado DH – Bryce Harper LF – Tyler O’Neill 1B – Matt Olson SS – Trea Turner 2B – Wander Franco * – traded to North League; ** – replacement selection
NORTH LEAGUE ALL-STARS Pitchers Shohei Ohtani, Toronto (SP)^ Danny Duffy, London Max Fried, Chicago Liam Hendriks, Pittsburgh Tanner Houck, Toronto Tyler Matzek, Cleveland Mark Melancon, Chicago Charlie Morton, Chicago Carlos Rodon, Cleveland Spencer Turnbull, Boston Julio Urias, Cleveland Zach Wheeler, Boston Reserves Jason Castro, Chicago Ty France, Ottawa Tim Anderson, London Brandon Lowe, Vancouver Xander Bogaerts, London Josh Donaldson, Ottawa Teoscar Hernandez, London Cedric Mullins, Nashville Kyle Tucker, Calgary Michael Brantley, Ottawa Pete Alonso, Pittsburgh Lineup RF – Ronald Acuna LF – Ketel Marte 1B – Frank Schwindel DH – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. CF – Byron Buxton C – Salvador Perez SS – Brandon Crawford 2B – Jose Altuve 3B – Ramon Urias ^ – also selected as an outfield reserve
Drafted in the ninth round and traded three times before his breakout season, Shohei Ohtani is now the first two-way All-Star in PGBL history.
The Toronto Tigers ace/right fielder has been named as the North League’s starting pitcher for the annual showcase, this year hosted by London, the franchise that drafted him in 2013.
Ohtani boasts an NL-best 10-1 record with 118 strikeouts and a 3.18 ERA that ranks third in the league. He’s played in every game, typically batting fifth or sixth as the starting right fielder in the Tigers’ potent lineup.
The NL’s starting designated hitter in 2019, Ohtani merits All-Star honors as both a hitter and a pitcher and has a case to be in the NL starting lineup with 22 home runs and a .952 OPS. While he is being chosen as a two-way honoree, he will not bat in the game and instead will start on the mound.
He’ll be opposed by perennial SL opener Jacob deGrom of Dublin, who earns his fifth straight appearance and will start the game for the fourth time.
Ohtani will face an SL lineup with four representatives from reigning PGBL champion Memphis: first baseman Matt Olson, second baseman Wander Franco, shortstop Trea Turner and right fielder Juan Soto.
SL-leading Berkeley has three in the lineup in catcher Yasmani Grandal, third baseman Nolan Arenado and left fielder Tyler O’Neill. The South order will be rounded out by Flagstaff’s Fernando Tatis Jr. in center field and Tijuana’s Bryce Harper as the DH.
A pair of Ohtani’s Tigers teammates will start for the NL: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be the DH while second baseman Jose Altuve makes his fifth All-Star start in six appearances.
Boston will supply both starting corner infielders for the North in rookie slugger Frank Schwindel at first and Ramon Urias at third. Calgary’s Salvador Perez gets the nod behind the plate and Chicago shortstop Brandon Crawford grabs the last infield spot, while an athletic NL outfield features Byron Buxton of Cleveland, Ronald Acuna of Pittsburgh, and Ketel Marte of the host Arsenal.
Reserves will be announced later.
2021 ALL-STAR STARTERS South League C – Yasmani Grandal, Berkeley 1B – Matt Olson, Memphis 2B – Wander Franco, Memphis SS – Trea Turner, Memphis 3B – Nolan Arenado, Berkeley LF – Tyler O’Neill, Berkeley CF – Fernando Tatis Jr., Flagstaff RF – Juan Soto, Memphis DH – Bryce Harper, Tijuana SP – Jacob deGrom, Dublin North League C – Salvador Perez, Calgary 1B – Frank Schwindel, Boston 2B – Jose Altuve, Toronto SS – Brandon Crawford, Chicago 3B – Ramon Urias, Boston LF – Ketel Marte, London CF – Byron Buxton, Cleveland RF – Ronald Acuna, Pittsburgh DH – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto SP – Shohei Ohtani, Toronto