Well, here we are! We've finally arrived at my last reliever, after a process that began with a post on my #10 hitter, Corey O'Neill, which went up on August 29, 2007.
So without further ado, the best reliever in the Valley League in the summer of 2007 is... Jimmy Stanley, the junior righthander from Belmont. Stanley was hugely important to the Waynesboro Generals' run to the VBL championship; in fact, he was on the mound when the Generals clinched each of their three playoff series.
His stats show his dominance: Jimmy went 3-0, 1.15, with 13 saves, a 0.96 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 12.1 K/9, and .160 opponent's batting average. Jimmy gave up runs in only 3 of his 24 appearances, while the Generals went 22-2 in those 24 games (the team went 15-14 in games Stanley did not pitch).
The game that best shows Stanley's clutch pitching for the Generals occurred on August 2nd, in game 3 of the best-of-three opening round playoff series against the Woodstock River Bandits (in Waynesboro). The teams were knotted at 4 when Stanley entered the game in the top of the 10th inning. He proceeded to pitch 6 shutout innings until the top of the 16th inning, when the Bandits pushed across a run, only to have the Generals answer with 2 in the bottom of the inning to send Waynesboro to the second round. Before that night, the most batters Stanley faced in one outing was 6; he faced 29 that evening. Without Stanley's gutsy pitching that night, the Generals, most likely, would not have been in the position to win the Jim Lineweaver Cup.
I asked Jimmy how the Generals were able to win it all. He said, "Well, our success was due to our determination and unity. In summer leagues it is hard to form a bond with players that you know you will only be playing with for one summer and may never get to see or play with again, but I felt that our team became really close and enjoyed playing with one another."
Stanley, who throws a four seam fastball, curveball, and circle change, also has something extra to contend with in his life: he has Type 1 Diabetes. He credits his roommate, Danny Williamson, with helping to push him to work hard during the summer, even the day after his huge game against Woodstock.
Jimmy played at Marshall in his freshman year, when he went 3-0, 8.33, with a 1.74 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, and 4.6 K/9 in 27 innings. He transferred to Belmont for his sophomore year, when we went 3-1, 4.74, with 2 saves, a 1.55 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and 7.6 K/9 in 38 innings.
Jimmy will unfortunately not return to the Valley League next summer, as he has accepted an opportunity to pitch in the Northwoods League. The Generals will miss him, but hopefully the extra exposure will help him in the long run, and he will be able to pitch professionally.
Danny Williamson, Jim Critzer, and Stanley (Courtesy Haymarket Joe)