By Brendan Dudas and Keegan Caughey
Dirtyard Classic: Sunday, August 13th
Tailgate: 10:30 AM
First Pitch (Game 1): 1 PM
Stream: ISC Network & CCW on Twitch/YouTube
‘Twas the night before the Classic… the crew at ISC Sports Network is loading up their gear. Multiple Hounds players are gathered around a blackjack table. Keith Dudas is a mile in the sky on a scissor lift. Will Smithey is in his backyard attempting to add just one more pitch to his arsenal. And BOTH teams are hard at work, hemming the tattered coattails of their stud aces in preparation for one… last… ride. It’s the Dirtyard Classic! LET’S DIVE IN!
Despite having an entire salary cap system built around their star player, the Moonshots find themselves back in the Classic for the third consecutive season. Like the 8 Balls last season, the Moonshots have a chance to become the only CCW franchise with 3 titles. The red-hot Hounds are just two wins away from their first championship - a fitting storyline for the franchise with which Will Smithey made his debut.
The storylines are rich and plentiful for both squads. Tyler Gregory has slugged his way into the top of the Silver Slugger power rankings, but might just be playing himself OUT of being Smithey’s right hand man next season. Blake Voris, intent on calling this his last year, just turned in a season as the 15th most valuable player in CCW, ahead of names like Dudas, Jones, Alles and H. Palmer. Myc Witty - ohhhhhhhhhh, Myc Witty - show up to the Dirtyard and LISTEN to him pitch and you’ll understand why the Hounds are playing in the Classic. That sound you hear is not Oppenheimer playing in the Dirtyard theater room (would be a cool addition), it’s Witty’s riser eviscerating our poor K-board.
But HEY! I’m not friggin’ here to dig into storylines and make this some sentimental celebration of Wiffle. NO. The Moonshots and Hounds are ready for some cut-throat, do or die Wiffle ball badassery (and the rest of us may or may not have BETS to cash). I’ve done the research and gathered the data. I’ve plugged the numbers into my models and prepared those results for you.
The Moonshots lead the league in AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS and runs scored. Yes, that’s every single hitting stat that matters. They have 3 hitters in the top 10 for home runs. They strike out less than any team in the league. And lastly, they destroy lob pitches. If you try to get into a slugfest with this lineup, you will lose.
Advantage: Moonshots (1-0)
If there’s one category that might do the best job of predicting the winner of this series, it’s this one. Through the first 3 weeks of the season, this one undoubtedly belonged to Will Smithey and the Moonshots. From week 4 on? Buckle in. Like, seriously - this pitching line is going to blow you away.
Myc Witty since July 9th: 6-0, 40 IP, 107 K (16.05 K/6), .098 AVG against, 0.15 ERA…
1. EARNED. RUN. and a single earned run in over 30 straight innings of work.
Myc Witty has taken over the Cy Young race and made the MVP race more interesting than it has been in YEARS. He’s the reason the Hounds are here and could be the reason they get to call themselves champions tomorrow.
Advantage: Hounds (1-1)
Don’t let the overall size of the Hounds fielders, Dylan Jones and Coby Taylor, fool you. These big boys can MOVE and they’ve got great hands. Thomas Hopkins, President of the Fielding Stats Committee, dropped the ball and forgot to keep track of errors, fielder’s choices and double plays this season, but this duo DID turn a double play on known-speedster, Cody House.
Advantage: Hounds (2-1)
In this year’s Classic, there are plenty of familiar faces from each side of the Mississippi. Moonshots leader Will Smithey has plenty of experience in big games, as he is a back-to-back CCW champion. As if that weren’t enough, his last-minute heroics at the 2022 NWLA Tournament helped CCW win their first-ever national title. Smithey brings with him longtime Moonshot Tyler Gregory, who is no stranger to championships himself. Though led by two all-timers, the Moonshots big-game experience stops there, as the only big game the rest of the team has played in was a recreational church league semifinal basketball game (lost 56-37).
The Hounds have plenty of championship experience; unfortunately, all of their experience comes with crippling performances and choking away any chance of being remembered. Manager Dylan Jones, a loser in his lone Dirtyard Classic appearance, is accompanied by Jake Sprinkle, also a loser in his only Dirtyard Classic appearance. Give DJ some props though, because he recognized their inability to come through in big moments and grabbed Blake Voris in the off-season. Voris, a former Moonshot and two-time CCW champion, jumped ship from Smithey’s Moonshots thanks to a hefty offer from Jones (rumor is he was offered a bucket hat and will be named the Godfather of Jones’ unborn child). Voris brings the championship experience that the Hounds previously lacked, and it just might be enough to put them over the top (if Witty pulls through because let’s be real: it all comes down to that).
Advantage: Slight Moonshots (2-2)
When comparing dad bods, you have to ask yourself: which lineup would make a Golden Corral owner shake in their boots if they were to walk in? The answer is BOTH of them. This collective group of dad bods receive a perfect A rating - as in USDA Grade A prime BEEF. When we finally get around to making the Circle City shirtless promo calendar, the likes of Gregory, Jones, Gurtcheff and Taylor are going to be FRONT and CENTER.
Advantage: TIE (2-2-1)
In the long, rich history of this article, this category has never been anything but a tie. This year, that changes. I want to preface this by saying the Hounds are no slouches when it comes to ignoring the real world to focus on this plastic bat and ball. But the Moonshots… my god are they putting on a clinic. Will Smithey keeps a Wiffle ball in his truck so that he can practice pitch grips while driving. Dalton Lewis overtook the commish for most hours spent at the Dirtyard this year. Tyler Gregory is on the Mount Rushmore of Wiffle lifers for his delivery room stunt in 2022. Alex Gurtcheff and Dylan Dowden are two of the masterminds behind CCW’s content strategy. Michael Plourde shows up JUST to play defense.
Advantage: Moonshots (3-2-1)
IF THE GAME WERE TO BREAK INTO A BRAWL
I’m hard-headed and don’t learn many lessons in life, but I still have sand stuck in my teeth from the time I tried to drunkenly wrestle Dylan Jones on a beach in Georgia. Lesson learned.
Advantage: Hounds (3-3-1)
Myc Witty and Coby Taylor. Need I say more?
Advantage: Hounds (4-3-1)
I think both of these teams came to play this year as it pertains to their uniforms. The Hounds get points for the pinstripes and overall cleanliness. They each get docked a point for using the exact same font on the front. But in the end, the Moonshots get the most important point in the creativity category with their galaxy inspired threads. They’re clean and unique, and the color scheme is just hard to beat.
Advantage: Moonshots (4-4-1)
The final tally is in, and we have… A TIE! That simply could not have been predicted. If you’ve been left on the edge of your seat, then we recommend that you tune into the Dirtyard Classic TOMORROW to see the Hounds and Shots break this tie.
Derek Schultz and Rudy Lyon will be on the call again, and the game will be available on Twitch and YouTube, as well as the ISC website!