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NALB - 2021 Awards

Here are North American League Baseball’s prestigious individual award winners for 2021.

League 1
Outstanding Batter Award: Pete Chavez (Luisville Beasts)
Outstanding Pitcher Award: Jesús Alonso (Dunedin Otters)
Reliever of the Year Award: Alfredo Maldonardo (Cornfield Axemen)
Newcomer of the Year: Clement Barrows (Brooklyn Knights)
Manager of the Year: Steve Blakey (Dayton Grizzlies)

Platinum Stick Award Winners
Catcher: Andrew Strain (Brooklyn Knights)
First Baseman: Jorge Morales (Las Vegas Luck)
Second Baseman: Givon Hopkins (Dayton Grizzlies)
Third Baseman: Pete Chavez (Luisville Beasts)
Shortstop: Bubba Webb (Nashville Firecats)
Left Fielder: Luís Vergel (Cornfield Axemen)
Center Fielder: Leonard O'Marron (Luisville Beasts)
Right Fielder: Li-ben Chai (Dayton Grizzlies)
Designated Hitter: John Edwards (Nashville Firecats)

Slick Fielder Award Winners
Pitcher: Paco Rivera (Luisville Beasts)
Catcher: Kevin Winkle (Luisville Beasts)
First Baseman: Ramone Alconer (Brooklyn Knights)
Second Baseman: José Arzate (Cornfield Axemen)
Third Baseman: Joe Epp (Las Vegas Luck)
Shortstop: Carlos Cardenas (Dunedin Otters)
Left Fielder: Yvon Chouinard (Luisville Beasts)
Center Fielder: Hamilton Look (Nashville Firecats)
Right Fielder: Andrew Dickens (Cornfield Axemen)

League 2
Outstanding Batter Award: Mabon Beniniger (Washington Allies)
Outstanding Pitcher Award: Eriq Barber (Stade Maples)
Reliever of the Year Award: Whitney Todd (Richmond Slam)
Newcomer of the Year: Chet Hamm (Quebeck Sky Chiefs)
Manager of the Year: Glen Marchand (Stade Maples)

Platinum Stick Award Winners
Pitcher: Eriq Barber (Stade Maples)
Catcher: Morris Brown (Vancouver Wild)
First Baseman: Mabon Beniniger (Washington Allies)
Second Baseman: Chale Ortega (Washington Allies)
Third Baseman: Mead Ward (Quebeck Sky Chiefs)
Shortstop: Larry Arceniaga (Richmond Slam)
Left Fielder: Dorian Chivers (Washington Allies)
Center Fielder: Justyn MacLugash (Stade Maples)
Right Fielder: Tony Rodarte (Quebeck Sky Chiefs)

Slick Fielder Award Winners
Pitcher: Gutierre Jiménez (Richmond Slam)
Catcher: George Medforth (Stade Maples)
First Baseman: Mabon Beniniger (Washington Allies)
Second Baseman: Joshua Ridings (Richmond Slam)
Third Baseman: Moray Williams (Vancouver Wild)
Shortstop: Ramiro Socastro (Stade Maples)
Left Fielder: John Patterson (Phoenix Rattlers)
Center Fielder: Nathan Clontz (St. James Crusaders)
Right Fielder: Joe Geddes (Vancouver Wild)

Back to Back! The Dayton Grizzlies are 2021 NALB Champions

In early July, the Dayton Grizzlies trailed the Brooklyn Knights by six games. By the end of the month, they had claimed the division lead and never relinquished it. It wasn't easy, however. The Knights kept it close the rest of the season. In the end, the Grizzlies were division champs for the second straight year by a slim one game margin. Their path to another championship went through Luisville. The Luisville Beasts had more wins (97) than any other NALB team. They also scored more runs (823) than any other club. The Grizzlies were undaunted, however. With league leading power (217 HR) and solid pitching, Dayton was well equipped to match up against any team. They downed the Beasts in six games and moved on to the World Championship Series. Their WCS opponents were the Richmond Slam. Unlike last year's role as underdogs, the Grizzlies came in as defending champs and solid favorites. The WCS was competitive and went the maximum of seven games. Down 4-3 in the eighth inning, they never quit. A two run homer pulled out the win and made the Dayton Grizzlies the 2021 NALB world champions.

NALB2021_champions_trophy
Click the image for the NALB 2021 World Championship roster

NALB 2021 World Championship Series

2021 World Championship Series - Richmond Slam (86-76) vs. Dayton Grizzlies (90-72)

Game 1: Dayton 5, Richmond 4
Game 2: Dayton 7, Richmond 1
Game 3: Richmond 1, Dayton 0
Game 4: Richmond 2, Dayton 0
Game 5: Richmond 6, Dayton 1
Game 6: Dayton 5, Richmond 4
Game 7: Dayton 5, Richmond 4

Series MVP: Harry Miele (Richmond Slam)

Last season, the Dayton Grizzlies made their first playoff appearance. They won a world championship against a powerhouse Key West Corals team that had won 100 regular season games. This season, the Grizzlies were back in the World Championship Series to defend their title as the favorites against the Richmond Slam. Richmond's last appearance in the WCS was back in 2012. The Grizzlies have a balanced team with good hitting and pitching. The Slam don't score a lot of runs but rely on a very good pitching staff.

Game 1: Catón Huincho (13-9, 3.72 ERA) vs. Saúl Ramírez (10-5, 4.07 ERA). It was cool and cloudy with a threat of rain in the opening game of the WCS. The Slam struck quickly against Saúl Ramirez. After three innings, Richmond held a 4-0 lead. The Grizzlies scored a pair of runs in the fourth and another run in the sixth. Huincho left the game after six innings with a 4-3 lead. Dayton won the game on a pair of late home runs, however. Quilvio Martínez hit a solo homer in the eighth and Givon Hopkins went deep in the ninth to put the Grizzlies on top 5-4.

Game 2: Mariano Ortíz (10-11, 3.17 ERA) vs. Jake Pradia (16-11, 3.09 ERA). Lefty Jake Pradia looked impressive for the Grizzlies. He pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out seven batters. Left fielder Beaghan Cajar powered Dayton's offense with two home runs. Grizzlies 7, Slam 1.

Game 3: Rey Alvarado (12-7, 3.57 ERA) vs. Don Vowles (14-8, 2.91 ERA). Back home in Richmond, the Slam desperately needed a win after dropping the first two games. Rey Alvarado did all he could for the Grizzlies. He was magnificent through 8 scoreless innings with 0 walks and 14 strikeouts. Starter Don Vowles answered the call for Richmond by pitching 6.1 shutout innings. The Slam's bullpen took care of the rest. In the bottom of the ninth the Slam won 1-0 thanks to a walkoff homer by Marc-André Lavoie.

Game 4: Hai Lovatt (3-3, 5.67 ERA) vs. Gutierre Jiménez (7-10, 3.00 ERA). Jiménez pitched 5.1 innings and the Slam bullpen took it the rest of the way for a combined shutout. The Slam had their second consecutive shutout with a 2-0 victory.

Game 5: Saúl Ramírez vs. Catón Huincho. With the series tied 2-2, game five was pivotal. Once again, Ramirez got shelled early. He surrendered five earned runs and didn't last two innings. Second inning homers by Joshua Ridings and Urbano Ramos drove Ramirez out of the game. Huincho gave up only one run through 6.1 impressive innings. Richmond won easily, 6-1.

Game 6: Mariano Ortíz vs. Jake Pradia. Pradia out-dueled Ortíz again. Heading into the eighth inning, Dayton's 5-2 lead appeared pretty secure. Closer Xavier Widdison gave up two runs but held on to get the save. Grizzlies 5, Slam 4.

Game 7: Don Vowles vs. Rey Alvarado. The Grizzlies thrilled their hometown fans in the bottom of the second. Quilvio Martínez led off with a solo home run and three more hits contributed to a three run inning. Alvarado cruised through four innings, striking out eight batters while giving up no runs. Things began to unravel for Alvarado in the fifth inning, however. The Slam scored four runs off of a single, hit batsman, two walks, and a double. Richmond kept its 4-3 lead into the eighth inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Héctor Veolásquez crushed a 95 mph fastball and sent it over the right field wall. Dayton took a 5-4 lead. Eric Matts held the Slam scoreless in the ninth to give the Grizzlies the win and another world championship. The Grizzlies are only the second team in history (after the Brooklyn Knights) to win back to back NALB championships.

Slam catcher Harry Miele was named the World Championship Series MVP. Despite playing for the losing side, his performance was too impressive to ignore. Miele hit .522 (12 for 23) and had 1 HR, 4 RBI, and scored 4 runs.

NALB 2021 Playoffs - League 1 Series

2021 League 1 Series - Dayton Grizzlies (90-72) vs. Luisville Beasts (97-65)

Game 1: Dayton 5, Luisville 2
Game 2: Dayton 8, Luisville 7
Game 3: Luisville 3, Dayton 2
Game 4: Dayton 4, Luisville 2
Game 5: Luisville 6, Dayton 2
Game 6: Dayton 5, Luisville 4

Series MVP: Li-ben Chai (Dayton Grizzlies)

In their first playoff appearance last year, the Dayton Grizzlies went all the way and became NALB champions. In 2021, they looked to defend their title against the Luisville Beasts. The Luisville Beasts won their fifth straight division title and hoped to avenge last season's loss to the Grizzlies.

Grizzlies lefty Jake Pradia (16-11, 3.09 ERA) had the task of facing the Beasts and their top scoring offense. The Beasts game one starter was Whitney Sanders (19-9, 2.92 ERA), NALB's winningest pitcher. Sanders pitched well but the Grizzlies chipped away by scoring a run in three of the first five innings. Pradia looked unaffected by the pressure and cruised through six innings, allowing only three hits. Dayton opened the series with a 5-2 win.

Dayton's talented Cuban pitcher Rey Alvarado (12-7, 3.57 ERA) got the game two start. Noel Trevenot (13-6, 3.59 ERA) took the mound for Luisville. After three scoreless innings, the floodgates opened. It was a slugfest the rest of the way. Despite a total of seven runs and sixteen hits, the Beasts were unable to prevail. The Grizzlies committed two errors and had only eight hits but maximized their opportunities. They edged the Beasts 8-7.

As the series moved to Dayton for game three, Luisville started veteran Charles Revels (11-7, 3.27 ERA) against Saúl Ramírez (10-5, 4.07 ERA). The game was a low scoring affair and this time the Beasts came out of top. Luisville topped Dayton 3-2 for its first win of the series.

In game four, Paco Rivera (15-10, 4.24 ERA) was the Beasts starting pitcher. The Grizzlies countered with Hai Lovatt (3-3, 5.67 ERA), a pitcher with relatively little major league experience. The spotlight didn't bother Lovatt a bit. He pitched into the seventh inning and only gave up one run. The Grizzlies won 4-2.

Pradia and Sanders were back on the mound to start game five. Pradia out-pitched Sanders in game one but that wasn't the case this time. Pradia went six innings but gave up five runs. Sanders showed why he led all pitchers in regular season wins. He gave up only two runs (one unearned) in seven innings. Home runs by Chouinard and Chavez helped pace the Beasts to a 6-2 victory.

Game six was an elimination game for the Beasts at home. Down three games to two, they had to win both remaining games in Luisville to stay alive. The starting pitchers were the same as game two, Alvarado vs. Trevenot. The Beasts scored quickly with three runs in the first, including a homer by Hsiao-lou Yeh. Yeh doubled in the bottom of the sixth and scored to make it 4-0. The Grizzlies remained calm and kept fighting. In the seventh inning, a Li-ben Chai homer capped a three run inning. In the top of the ninth, the Grizzlies struck again with three straight hits and two runs. Luisville failed to score in the bottom of the ninth. Dayton has done it again. The Grizzlies won the League 1 series for the second straight year, four games to two.

Grizzlies right fielder Li-ben Chai earned series MVP honors. He posted a .333 average with 8 hits, 2 home runs, and 3 RBI.

NALB 2021 Playoffs - League 2 Series

2021 League 2 Series - Richmond Slam (86-76) vs. Stade Maples (93-69)

Game 1: Richmond 2, Stade 0
Game 2: Stade 5, Richmond 2
Game 3: Richmond 3, Stade 0
Game 4: Stade 9, Richmond 2
Game 5: Richmond 3, Stade 2
Game 6: Richmond 10, Stade 8

Series MVP: Aramis Jáquez (Richmond Slam)

Once a perennial contender, the Richmond Slam hadn't been to the playoffs since 2014. Richmond's road to the championship needed to go through Stade. The Maples are a very complete team with the league's best pitching staff and a decent offense.

The opener featured starters Ramon Uribes (8-8, 1.96 ERA) for the Slam and Eriq Barber (11-6, 2.34 ERA) for the Maples. The game was a fine pitching duel. Both starters were sharp and lasted six innings. Uribes was a bit better, however, and the Slam nailed down a 2-0 shutout with the help of their bullpen.

The Maples desperately wanted to avoid losing the first two games at home. Stade's Braulio Crame (14-10, 3.67 ERA) got the pressure packed start against Don Vowles (14-8, 2.91 ERA). By the fifth inning, the Maples had cruised to a 5-0 lead. Richmond scored a couple of runs late. However, seven solid innings from Crame and two from Berto Sarzosa in relief secured a 5-2 win for the Maples.

With the series tied 1-1, the Slam looked forward to heading back to Richmond for game 3. They started 31 year old Catón Huincho (13-9, 3.72 ERA) against 26 year old Alex Mobley (5-4, 3.47 ERA). Mobley was acquired from Brooklyn on July 31 after spending his entire career in the Knights' organization. The Slam hit three solo home runs—two by Joshua Ridings and one by Roy Dabbs. Richmond's pitching gave the team its second shutout win of the series by a score of 3-0.

Once again, the Maples looked to even the series in game four. The pitching matchup was Stade's Trip Taraz (1-2, 4.94 ERA) vs. Richmond's Mariano Ortíz (10-11, 3.17 ERA). The Maples jumped on top quickly with four runs in the first inning, highlighted by a three run homer by Javier Cirnernos. In the eighth inning, Kurt Johnson added a grand slam to dash any hopes of a comeback by the Slam. The game ended as a 9-2 win for the Maples.

Game five was a rematch between the game one starters, Uribes and Barber. This one went into extra innings tied 2-2. In the bottom of the tenth inning, Carl Gwinn hit a walk-off homer to win the game for Richmond, 3-2.

Game six featured the game two starters, Crame and Vowles. This time, it was a slugfest. After three innings, the Slam led 9-4. Despite two home runs and six doubles for the game, the Maples fell short. Three Richmond home runs powered a 10-8 victory for the Slam.

Richmond right fielder Aramis Jáquez was named the series MVP. He hit .273 with 3 HR and 7 RBI.