Detroit Rookie SP No Hits the Gulls – and LOSES!

Story by Martin Abresch June 2, 2028

In his major league debut, Detroit starter Dan Pollard tosses eight no-hit innings. His reward? His first major league loss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without getting a hit, the Duluth Gulls manufacture two runs. Meanwhile, Duluth’s pitching shuts out the Detroit Thunderbirds. Duluth beats Detroit, 2-0.

Detroit recently traded starter Ronnie Taylor to Milwaukee, opening up a spot in their rotation. Pollard, age 25, was brought up to take his spot and eat innings.

“His performance was something we never quite saw ever happening,” said Detroit General Manager Eddie Komrska after the game, “To be honest, when we traded Taylor we held a roshambo contest with our minor league pitchers, and apparently he’s the best of the best.”

Facing the defending champions, Pollard strikes out the first two hitters he faces and retires 11 of the first 12. The one batter to reach base, Bob Pichon, walks and is promptly picked off.

The Gulls score their first run in the fifth. Pollard walks Pichon for the second time, then hits Barry Brown with a pitch. A ground out advances Pichon to third. Juan Ibarra hits a deep fly ball, and Pichon tags up and scores without a throw.

Pollard then retires the next 10 batters.

“Pollard pitched an incredible game,” said Duluth General Manager Andrew Sather, “He kept our hitters off balance. To have the type of game he did really speaks to his potential.”

Unfortunately for Pollard, Duluth ace Jorge Valdéz pitches one of the best games of his career. Valdéz (8-1) walks none and allows just two hits over 8 1/3 innings of work. He strikes out a career-high 13 batters. His previous career high of 12 came nearly a year ago, on July 16, 2027, against the Toledo Neptunes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Valdez has always had the stuff to be an ace,” said Sather, “But he had never truly been consistent to be labeled as an ace. Pitching as well as he did today, maybe he has turned the corner. No doubt this was one of his better games.”

Two T-Birds reach base via errors by Duluth second baseman—and two-time Flashing Leather Award winner—Harvey Ormon. Both Detroit hits are are singles off the bat of Andy Blatchford—the only player on either team to get a hit today. The seventh inning, when Justin Henry reaches base on an error and Blatchford singles, is the only time where a T-Bird reaches second base.

With the score 1-0, Pollard comes out to pitch the ninth. He walks the leadoff hitter—the opposing pitcher Valdéz. With the game still winnable and Pollard having thrown 114 pitches, the Detroit manager makes the tough call and pulls him from the game, despite the no-hit bid.

John Cline comes in to relieve. A sacrifice bunt moves Valdéz to second. A ground out moves him to third. The would-be third out—a ground ball to second baseman Andy Blatchford—is bobbled, allowing Valdéz to score the second run of the game. Coincidentally, it’s Ormon, the man with two errors on the night, who hits the ground ball that Blatchford bobbles.

Cline gets the next batter, Pichon, to fly out, completing the combined no-hitter.

Valdéz comes out to pitch the bottom of the ninth, retires the first batter, then gets pulled for Christian Cassell, who records his second save of the year.

After the final out, the crowd in Thunderbirds Ballpark was silent and seemed stunned. The loss stung, but they knew that they had seen something very special. Some fans made for the exit. On the field, Pollard shook hands then made his way for the tunnel and the clubhouse. Some fans stuck around and started chanting Pollard’s name. The chants grew louder and louder. Exiting fans stopped, turned around, and joined in.

Word reached Pollard after a minute or two of chanting, and he came back out and tipped his hat to the remaining crowd, who cheered loudly.

“That meant a lot to me,” said Pollard after the game, “I’m going to remember that for a long, long time.”

Comets Soar, Again

The Kingston Comets were the perennial second division team from 2015 to 2022. They managed but a single winning record, their second year in the league.  But, in 2023, they took the league by surprise streaking to an 85-69 season on their way to GLBL Championship #1.

Since that glorious 23 season,  they have won 80+ games every year.  In 2026, they finished with 86 wins, their highest total to date.  A seemingly bottomless pit of arms was too much for the USA Champs, as Kingston cruised to the title in six games.

What defines the Comets?  Pitching.  Here are the cast that made Championship #2 possible.

The Starters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Relievers

The First to Three

The irrepressible Yogi Berra said it best.  “Deja vu all over, again.”

The Thunder Bay Caribou won their division in 2025, again.

They advanced to the Finals, again.

They played the powerful Detroit Thunderbirds, again.

Finally, they won the series, four games to two…..again.

For Rob Larmer, it was his second time to the podium to collect his GLBL ring.  But, it was the third time the Caribou won the Championship, now more than any other franchise in the 11 year history of the league.

Waveriders over the top

 

The Owen Sound Waveriders have won their first GLBL Championship as they defeated the Toledo Neptunes in a very spirited and competitive six game set.  The 85 wins in the regular season were a franchise high for Owen Sound.  One of the stars now, and looking into the future, is Wilbert ‘Sleepy’ LeGrow.  He plays all the outfield positions and first base and mashed his way to an impressive .844 OPS over the course of the season.  The recipient of the Silver Slugger Award is now a two time all star, at the young age of 25.

On the mound the trio of Bonnefoy, O’Brien, and Wilson amassed a total of 38 wins.  Randy Costello notched 41 saves his lowest total in the last three years.  Up and coming 23 year old Nathan Yeo went 2-4 but gave us a glimpse of his upside with 0.98 WHIP.

Really, no weaknesses on this club as they were first in runs, second in runs against, and second in Team D in the Canadian League.

Riding High

It took just 6 games to win their first Great Lakes Baseball League Championship but then, again, it took 7 years to finally achieve that goal.  Perpetually knocking on the door only to come up just short the Mounties finally negotiated the last hurdle by leaping over the Chicago Architects with their 5-4 win at Lakeside Park.

The Architects and Mounties had identical 82-62 records but Hamilton owned Chicago in the brief regular season by winning all four games by scores of 2-0, 10-4, 6-4, and 3-2.  And, on this first day of October, catcher Joe Kelley made sure the Mounties would take home the grand prize as his solo shot in the 3rd inning was the difference.  So, the life time record of 536-452 (second only to Chicago) now has a championship banner to secure the reputation as one of the top teams in the history of the league.

For the Canadian League it was sweet stuff indeed to see the string of USA titles arrested at five in a row as Hamilton joins Thunder Bay as the only Canadian teams to win a championship.  Geoff Boyd won the Most Valuable Player award as his relentless hitting down the stretch of the playoffs propelled Hamilton to the title.

For Chicago it was another great season that saw them win the USA championship and then compete in their fourth League Championship having won two titles to date.

 

Extra Innings…and then some.

Written by Martin Abresch

Toronto tied the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the 7th. With runners on second and third, Jesse Stannard singled to left. The runner on third scored, tying the game, while the runner on second tried for home … but was thrown out. After that, there were some singles and walks, but a runner didn’t reach scoring position until the 10th (when Toronto’s Michael Howard got stranded at third) and then the 18th (when Windsor’s Harry O’Connell hit a lead-off doubled but was stranded at third). Runners reached second in the 20th (single and sac bunt) and 21st innings (walk and ground out that advanced the runner). In the top of the 26th, Windsor’s Christophe Sarrazin doubled with two outs and got stranded. In the bottom of that inning, Michael Howard led off with a triple and was driven in by Jesse Stannard to win the game.


Of Windsor’s 287 pitches, 180 came after the game got tied, 4-4, in the seventh. Of Toronto’s 371 pitches, 238 came after the game was tied.

Think of it this way: if the game had started in the 8th inning, it would have gone 19 innings, Toronto would have won 1-0, and the teams would have combined for 418 pitches.

Windsor’s Larry Brown came on to pitch in the 13th inning. He pitched 7.2 shutout innings in relief, striking out 6 and walking none.

Toronto pitchers struck out 29 Vigilantes.


Jesse Stannard was the last batter, singling in the winning run. He led off the bottom of the first, doubled, and scored the games first run. On the day he went 3-for-11, with a run and two RBIs.

 

Jesse Stannard, the hero, sending what few fans remaining home for an abbreviated sleep.

The Batting Crown Race

 Godzilla Garcia  is not only threatening to hit .400 but he is actually raising his average as this past week saw his batting line go from .420 to .423.  In last evenings contest he went 3 for 4 against the Neptune’s with a double.  Toledo managed to win 6-1 as their challenger for the batting title, Carl MacNiven went 2 for 4 with his own double to ease his average back up to .389, yet at the same time quieting conversation about whether he might hit .400.

Sourface MacNiven is hitting .107 points above his average for last season and still has a shot at .400.

 

 

If this were a horse race you might hear the announcer using the classic vernacular of the sport  something akin to ‘they are around the far turn’ and you would know that these two batting giants are about to head to the stretch.  But, if you were not paying attention you might miss some activity, say, ‘coming up from the rear’.

Not to be out done,  the face of the GLBL is making his own bid for another batting crown as the two time Lake Superior Award winner and two time Lake Erie Award winner, and seven time all star (aka every year) is preparing for the stretch run with a vengeance.

Shotgun Time!  He was hitting .256 near the end of April but he’s been classic Silas since then and is now batting .375.  So the question is as we head to the stretch, ‘who can go the distance’?

Godzilla at the Plate

When you are 23 years old and playing at the GLBL level you are usually riding the bench hoping for an opportunity for a spot start here and there always with the hope that you impress the manager enough to give you another opportunity, hopefully in the form of a start.  Less likely, but still possible, you might be the benefactor of a long term injury to a player that moves you up the depth chart (Google Wally Pipp).

In the case of Guillermo ‘Godzilla’ Garcia he has already eclipsed the status described above as he is now the starting RF while spending some time in CF.  He’s 4.8 ZR combined.  But, we are not here to talk about his glove, or his arm (7 assists).

It’s the bat that carries his .416 batting average.  89 hits in 214 at bats qualifies him as a legitimate challenger to ‘Sourface’ McNiven of Toledo for the leagues highest batting average in 2021.  And, you don’t want to face this guy in a matinee contest as he hits .445 during the day hours.  In 316 AB’s he hit .341 in 2020.  In the current season he has posted 0 HR’s and 1 triple  and appears to be the classic slap and hit batter who uses his speed to beat out infield hits.  No question, Godzilla is a legit candidate to lead the league in batting for quite some time.

Where is Walt James bat today?

We know where the man is physically located….at the Bay of Quinte mid way  between Kingston and Toronto.  This little fishing village is home to the AAA Herons where Walt plays his baseball these days.  But, it wasn’t always this way for James as but two years ago he was east of this sleepy village  stealing bases, hitting extra base hits and posting a 3.8 WAR for the Kingston Comets, part of the GLBL.

A year later the Architects claimed him off waivers from Kingston but his stay was short in Chicago as his 7 AB’s hardly constituted a cup of coffee, to quote the iconic former catcher Joe Garagiola.  The Waveriders inked him to a one year deal on April 1 (you can read whatever you want into that signing date) but Owen Sound did not get what they thought they were buying as Walt totaled 20 hits in 109 AB’s with this batting line:  .183/.217.211.  Having committed just 1 error his entire career, short as it’s been, this guy could flash the D, definitely run, and hit better than the virtual replacement player by a long shot.   Just 32, one can only wonder what went wrong.