Charles “Ozzy” Osborne, Theodore “Teddy” Henderson and Joseph “The Professor” Broderick are three names baseball fans throughout the country will likely become accustomed to some day if this past weekend is any indication as the trio led the Triggers to the 2018 Pecos League final four with a 2-0 series sweep over the Roswell, New Mexico Invaders.
The Triggers provided fans with drama the likes of which could not have been dreamt up any better by a Hollywood screen writer over the weekend as they defeated the three-time Pecos League Champion Roswell squad in two epic baseball games on the road in Roswell, New Mexico.
Act I of the Triggers real life screenplay occurred on Friday, July 27 as and Joseph “The Professor” Broderick lived up to the article that appeared on the front page of The Chronicle-News that day titled The Professor Broderick leads Triggers into 2018 Pecos League playoffs (note this article is available through The Chronicle-News archive on our website). The article explained how others around him have noted the similarities between right-handed pitcher (RHP) Broderick and RHP Greg Maddux a member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame who was known as “The Professor” in baseball circles.
On Friday, July 27 “The Professor” Broderick did something in baseball that not even the original Professor Maddux himself ever achieved as he threw an incredible 144 pitches, 90 for strikes over eight near superhuman innings pitched against the Invaders.
The game will long be remembered for what Charles “Ozzy” Osborne accomplished with the Triggers down to their very final strike in the top of the ninth inning but to properly appreciate how the game ended it is important to first understand how epic and dramatic the events were that led up to that moment.
The game was a pitching duel that resembled something from the mid-1970’s the likes of which fans of Nolan Ryan would appreciate. On any other night the story of the game would have been the performance of Roswell starting pitcher Ben McKendall. Triggers team leader All Star shortstop Tim Henry Jr. explained, “McKendall threw really well, he kept our entire lineup off balance the whole night.” McKendall battled with the Triggers lineup for eight solid innings, striking out 11 batters while allowing only four hits and one run. McKendall also threw an incredible 133 pitches, 75 for strikes, which would have been extremely impressive had it not been for the performance of Broderick.
Given the nature of most playoff games it was no surprise that the drama built as the game proceeded. The tension was obvious in the bottom of the sixth inning as Roswell left fielder and clean up hitter Brian Portelli drew a leadoff walk then was immediately moved to second base via a sacrifice bunt by Invader first baseman Austin Maltby on the first pitch to Triggers All Star third baseman Matt Eureste.
The drama of the sixth continued as Roswell third baseman Gavin Lavallee then hit a bullet back to Trigger shortstop Henry Jr. who made the brilliant decision to fire the ball to teammate third baseman Eureste who was able to tag out Portelli as he attempted to reach third base. The play resulted in the second recorded out of the inning but left Lavallee standing at first base via what was officially recorded as a 6-5 fielder’s choice. A walk of right fielder Jordan Ackerman advanced Lavallee to second base then catcher Jackson Pritchard hit the first pitch he saw for a go-ahead single scoring Lavallee and breaking the deadlock to give Roswell a 2-1 lead.
The throw to attempt to prevent Lavallee from scoring allowed Ackerman to advance to third base and Jackson to advance to second base, so after throwing an incredible 105 pitches The Professor stared down his counterpart, starting pitcher McKendall, with two outs and two runners in scoring position trailing by the score of 2-1.
After falling behind 2-0 Broderick battled back to get a foul and a swinging strike before running the count full at 3-2. Then with pitch number 111 on the night Broderick blew a pitch past the swinging bat of McKendall to end the scoring threat and keep the Triggers within one run.
The seventh inning began the same way the sixth ended for The Professor. Roswell leadoff hitter shortstop Louie Martini went up 3-0 in the count to begin the seventh but Broderick once again battled back with a foul and a called strike this time to bring the count full at 3-2 before recorded his ninth strikeout of the night on pitch number 117 that Martini swung on and missed.
The remainder of the seventh was routine but Maltby and Lavallee reached base again in the bottom of the eight before Jackson Pritchard who had earlier recorded the go-ahead hit against Broderick once again stepped to the plate with a chance to do some additional damage. The at bat began at pitch 139 for The Professor but he reached deep and blew his first, third and fifth and final pitch number 144 past Jackson to record his amazing tenth strikeout of the epic contest.
The ninth inning had a sub plot of its own worthy of a Hollywood production. Still trailing 2-1 pinch hitter All Star outfielder Abel Arocho was hit by a pitch followed by a single from All Star second baseman Nick Stoll and a walk from All Star third baseman Eureste. With two outs, one member of the Triggers that most fans in Trinidad knew was the biggest snub of the 2018 Pecos All Star selections, stepped to the plate in right fielder and clean up hitter Charles “Ozzy” Osborne.
Playoff game, top of the ninth inning, bases are loaded, trailing 2-1, with the count full at 3-2, and the Triggers down to their final strike of the game, by now the rest of this story is obvious, Ozzy launched a grand slam home run and following a solid bottom of the ninth that earned relief pitcher Cody Strayer the official save the Triggers were winners by the score of 5-2.
After the game shortstop Henry Jr. noted that he “felt blessed to have been a part of something so historic.” Henry added, “Somebody’s probably gonna have to run the store today for Broderick, he put the team on his back, you wanna credit the defense but nobody really got ahold of the ball, he made it easy for the defense. Ozzy sealed the deal at the end. Just being comfortable in the uncomfortable.”
Trigger relief pitcher Ryan Patrick described the mentality of the team during the contest, “Not at any point in the game did we think he (Broderick) didn’t have control of that game. He was in control of that game, he had them swinging at his nasty pitches. That’s what happens when you apply pressure and get ahead in the count. Everybody is expecting Teddy to go out and replicate what Joe did last night.”
Patrick’s words were prophetic in nature as Act II for the Triggers and the one that clinched the series was a 6-3 team victory on July 28 that was highlighted by the complete game, 126 pitch, 93 for strikes, seven strikeout performance of Teddy Henderson. Teddy pitched all nine innings and held a Roswell squad that had entered the series having scored 596 runs in 61 games on the season or 9.77 runs per game to only three runs.
Triggers Head Coach Thomas Nelson noted, “Holding an opponent to 2.5 runs per game that averaged a shade under ten in the regular season puts some perspective on how unique the pitching accomplishment by Broderick, Strayer, and Henderson truly was this weekend, we are playing as one unit and are excited to be moving on to face Alpine.”
The Triggers continue in the Pecos League playoffs this week against the Alpine, Texas Cowboys. Fans are encouraged to check the Triggers Facebook page for up-to-the-minute coverage of the series.