Local Sports

Championship Weekend Review

ROCHESTER, Mich. – A record number of fans attended Championship Weekend, presented by OUR Credit Union, at Jimmy John’s Field and the Utica Unicorns came-from-behind to capture their second United Shore Professional Baseball League title to highlight This Week in the USPBL. Unicorns’ catcher Jimmy Latona was named Championship Game MVP.

The weekend began with another sell out on Friday and the best fireworks show of the season. The Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers advanced to the semifinals after a 7-3 victory over the Eastside Diamond Hoppers, led by right-handed pitcher Garrett Christman who earned his league-best seventh win of the season.

The Unicorns took on the two-time defending champion Beavers on Saturday night for the right to play for the championship on Sunday. RHP Ty Hensley threw 7.0 scoreless innings as Utica took a 5-0 lead into the eighth inning. The Beavers responded with a three-run home run in the eighth, and put runners on first and second in the ninth, but Hensley pitched out of the jam to throw his first-ever complete game since becoming a professional in 2012.

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After a superb semifinals game, the Championship Game looked like it was going to be a run away for the top-seeded Westside Woolly Mammoths. Sonny Cortez homered in the first and the Mammoths took a 5-1 lead into the seventh inning before the Unicorns scored three and added the go ahead run in the eighth to win the title. Nolan Clenney broke the single-season record with his eighth save of the year, retiring all six batters he faced. The game featured a record attendance of 4,926.

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The United Shore Professional Baseball League was founded by Rochester-based General Sports and Entertainment, and is the culmination of a 10-year effort by General Sports to bring professional baseball to the Detroit area. General Sports is led by President & CEO Andy Appleby, a former Senior Vice President of the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment. General Sports previously owned and operated the Fort Wayne Wizards, a Minor League Baseball team in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the Derby County Football Club, an English football (soccer) club in the English Premier and Championship Football Leagues. The USPBL will give General Sports the opportunity to employ every best practice that its experienced team has learned over the past 30 years at the highest level of sports management and marketing.

The USPBL launched May 2016 with an initial slate of three teams playing a full 75-game schedule at Jimmy John’s Field in historic downtown Utica. The USPBL is the first league in history to feature best practices such as having all of its games played on prime dates, Thursday to Sunday from mid-May through early September – the very finest months of weather in Michigan.

For more information, visit the USPBL website.

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