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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:03 pm 
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Sweep to ‘Gnats Have Fans ‘Pumping the Brakes’
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

August 1, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – With the All-Star Game in the rear-view mirror – with Provost and Gray pitching perfect innings and Pedro Ferringo going 2-4 and a run scored in the SL’s 4-2, 10-inning win, the Borealis went back to work with a pair against the Bears, 4-games at ‘The Lake’ and 3-games at ‘The Springs’, and a 3-game end-July-open-August series again with the Bears.

The second half opened ominously with former-Evil Eva Benton Hawkins 11th inning homer off John Gray – the only run in the game, ruining Carlos Rivera’s 5-hit, 8 K, 9-inning performance. Declan Littleworth was equal to the task with his own 7.1 inning shut-out performance. The Bears looked towards a two-game sweep when they hit a pair of homers of Clark Snow the next day, in the third, but that would be all he would surrender in his 6 innings, and the ‘pen – Latour, Vega and ‘Doberman’ would allow just one more hit. Meanwhile Aurora would pound out 12 hits – four of them from the scorching Ferringo, along with 3 RBI and Tomas Flores’ 3-run homer, were big contributors to a big 8-4 comeback win.

Neo-Tokyo would head to The Front Range next and ‘Terror’ Diaz would out-duel Julio Diaz. A pair of late, 2-run innings – one thanks to Mike Britt’s 21st homer of former-Borealis Jimmy Younger, would start a three-game sweep of the Akira’s in fine 4-0 fashion. Neo-Tokyo would manage 2-runs in each of the next 2 games (off of Provost and ‘Tugboat’, but in each case the offense provided just enough for 4-2 and 3-2 wins.

And then there was the trip to Crystal Lake. Aurora opened the season with a 3-1 series win over the ‘Gnats at Northern Lights and then in May split four games in Illinois – 3-games were decided by a run and the fourth by two, so if nothing else, close games were the expectation. Aurora jumped to a quick lead as ‘Fudd’ led the game off with a double and scored and Pablo Medrano’s 2-out, 2-run double in the 3rd would make it 3-0, but the ‘Gnats would jump ahead – Rob Raines hitting a key 3-run homer. Aurora would eventually tie the game in the 8th only to have Julio Martinez cough up the L, a 7-5 loss. The killer part of the day was Carlos Rivera leaving the game after one out – and likely out for the remainder of the year. All you need to know about game 2 of the series was former-Dozer Jarrod Ricks hit three homers – albeit all solo. Aurora got behind and had difficulties stringing enough hits together – a typical losing pattern for a team that typically is out-powered. This time to the tune of a 6-5 loss.

Game three saw the ‘Gnats make the most of their 12-hits (scoring 9) while Aurora struggled to make much of their 10-hits (they scored 2), while Ricks continued to attack Aurora pitching, hitting another homer in the 9-2 ‘Gnat win, and then he would hit two more in the finale – including a 9th inning shot to tie the game – part of a back-to-back with Raines, allowing Crystal Lake to steal the game (6-5) and sweep the Borealis in a four game series for what memory suggests is the first time.

The team then headed to Reno where the highlights included River Pope going 4-4 in game 2 to support a bullpen game in Rivera’s stead. The team them moved from the Nevada desert to the California desert to take on the Codgers where Diaz was sharp in a winning, 8-inning performance. Provost would do Diaz a third of an inning better in game 2, allowing just a run. ‘Tugboat’ left game three ofter 7 innings with 7-2 lead, but rookie Sam Gordon coughed up 3 in the 8th to make the game interesting, but ultimately Aurora would finish off the 3-game sweep.

Young Billy Taylor would start the month’s last game – against Bakersfield, and pitched a satisfactory 5 innings, 7-hit, 1-run game. John Gray would blow the save in the 9th, but Pedro Ferringo would double home the winning run in the 11th for the win – at the trade deadline, and a 15-8 record for July.

The second half of July was an odd one. The Borealis were would homered 27-11 in those 16 games – and Britt and Flores hit 4 each, meaning there was literally no power coming from the rest of the line-up. For the starters, Teddy Loetzsch led the team at .390, while Pope hit .375. ‘Train Arollin’’ and ‘Tugboat’ posted identical 2-0, 2.14 marks. John Gray struggled – despite earning 5 saves, losing a game, giving up 4 homers and posting a 6.10 ERA.

What’s on Tap
August begins with the remainder of this Bears series and includes a peculiar home-and-home series with Okinawa and ends with the ‘Gnats for four and Codgers for 3 at Northern Lights. For the Borealis, as we look at a bit more than 2 months remaining, they need to avoid serious injury and a prolonged cold streak.

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Michael Topham, President Golden Entertainment & President-CEO of the Aurora Borealis
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:09 pm 
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Aurora Coast to the Finish Line, Await ‘Gnats, Codgers
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

September 4, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – At times things looked easy. At times they looked painfully difficult. But in the end, the Borealis finished their 2026 regular season with a 110-win season – tops in all of PEBA, and their highest win total since the 2015 club. It is the 6th year in a row they have won 100+ games and their 6th straight playoff appearance.

From August 1 onward Aurora posted a 39-20 mark that included a pair of 4-game sweeps of the Longshoremen. Looking at potential playoff opponents, Aurora swept Crystal Lake in three at Northern Lights – including rookie Hugh Jones major league debut (6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R) and Mike Provost’s complete game 1-hitter. Overall, Aurora split 16 games with the two-time SL Champs. Aurora took 2 of 3 from Palm Springs in late August to finish their season at 7-5 v. the Codgers, and a three game sweep of the Evil Evas to finish the 2026 regular season left Aurora with a surprising 8-4 edge against their Japanese counter-parts.

The one team that gave Aurora fits was the Duluth Warriors, who took 7 of 12 games against Aurora, although the teams split their remaining 6 games – Duluth winning a series in Minnesota and the Borealis winning the series on The Front Range.

How the Borealis have managed to be as successful as they have continues to amaze. This team led the league in hitting with a .274 average – and scored the third most runs, despite having the fewest homers and fewest extra-base hits in the league – something that just feels like an oxymoron. As has been the case over the past number of seasons – and thus, really not a big surprise, Aurora has done it offensively by drawing walks – third in the SL, leading to the second best OBP, stealing bases (4th in the league) and putting the ball in play – their 839 K were the fewest in the SL. This is a team that needs that extra hit to score runs. A team with a lower batting average would lose far more games than the Borealis have.

Pedro Ferringo led the team this year with a .329 average – 2nd in the SL. He led the league with 196 H and 38-2B, while having a team high 39 SB. River Pope hit .316 and he and Paul Carlisle were in the top four for OBP. The little power that Aurora did express came from Mike Britt (35 HR – the 2nd highest total of his career, 100 RBI), Carlisle (who hit 24 HRs for the 4th straight year), and rookie Manny Castro who’s .274, 16 HR and 58 RBI will certainly garner some Wunderkind votes. ‘Fido’ also accomplished something pretty amazing – he stole 23 bases without being caught – pretty incredible for a catcher! Castro wasn’t the only rookie to join the SB parade – ‘Fudd’ Martinez in mixed time between Aurora and Thornton, stole 25, being caught just 3 times.

Long-time SS Nick Giles got off to a horrendous start and soon gave way to Teddy Loetzsch, who made the most of his chance, hitting .288 with 22-2B. It’s fair to say that Teddy was the offensive surprise of the year, while Giles – despite a strong finish, was the dud (.225). Giles’s has a team option for the coming season, and it’s a pretty fair bet he will not be returning to Aurora in 2027.

Also following the script from the past few seasons has been the pitching staff. The team and the rotation lead the SL in ERA (2.89, 2.81, respectively), while a bullpen that started out strongly limped to the finish line at 3.08, 6th in the SL. Aurora pitching allowed the fewest hits, fewest walks, the lowest BABIP, the 4th most K’s and had the most efficient defense – again, not to beat a dead horse, but with the offensive style this team has come to rely on, the pitching better be good.

Good was Michel Provost. Aurora’s Ace had a bounce-back season (only if you consider 3.01 a bad number) with a PEBA high 19 wins and a 1.70 ERA. Once again ‘Train Arollin’’ had the best WHIP, fewest BB/9 and most K/BB (13.38) and looks to be the odds on in the Golden Arm voting. Good was ‘Tugboat’. He was not quite the dominant arm he was in his own Golden Arm campaign of last year, but his 2.61 ERA was 4th best in the SL and he and Provost continue to be the dominant pair in baseball.

One guy not to be overlooked is Clark Snow. The former Amsterdam starter who led PEBA with 19 losses in 2025 and had a 4.24 ERA, tied ‘Tugboat’ with 16 wins (16-5) with a respectable 3.52 ERA. Clark struck out 173 – coupled with Provost, Smith and ‘Terror’ Diaz, the core-four starters for Aurora each struck-out 170+ batters and on average, walked 34 (Provost and Diaz balanced each other out). Clark was by far the big surprise – even if what he really did was meet expectations, although the 30 HR allowed were not what was expected from this hard throwing, groundball pitcher.

John Gray saw plenty of action in this, the first post-Burris season – Gray made 81 appearances and saved a league high 47 games, and his ERA (1.66) didn’t top 1.00 until a July 23rd blow-up against Crystal Lake.

So once more the Borealis head to the post-season and they will await the wild-card winner – be it Crystal Lake or Palm Springs, while Duluth and Shin Seiki duke it out in the other series. Aurora has a little pay back for the ‘Gnats – after blowing a 3-2 Championship Series lead to Crystal Lake. One could say the same for Duluth after their drubbing by Aurora in the opening round last year.

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Michael Topham, President Golden Entertainment & President-CEO of the Aurora Borealis
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:45 pm 
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Borealis Open Playoffs with Pair of Home Wins
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 16, 2026: Crystal Lake, Illinois – Crystal Lake rolled onto The Front Range in the wee hours after beating the Codgers in a game 5 wild card game, and if the bleary-eyed ‘Gnats thought they’d trash Provost the way they beat-up Codger rookie Edgardo Guerra, well… then… they had another thing coming.

Provost would nearly go the distance in Game 1, allowing 7 hits - a solo homer to Uribe being the lone blemish, in 8.1 innings, while he would be supported by Manny Castro hitting two homers in his first playoff game. Mike Britt would have a bases-loaded, 2-out double to drive home three and clinch a 7-1 win for ‘Train Arollin’’ and the Borealis. Pope, Ferringo, Castro, Medrano and Justice all had a pair of hits in support of the win.

‘Tugboat’ was looking to follow in his partner’s shadow, and he nearly did – doubles by Rincon and Ricks in the second being the only run he allowed – and that Crystal Lake would score – and perhaps that would have been enough if Tony Cuellar had had a little better control. Cuellar would allow 6 hits over 6 shut-out innings, but his 5 BBs killed his pitch count against the typically patient Borealis. The ‘Gnat’s ‘pen looked sharp – until the 9th when former-Bear, Josh Hall would give up a pinch-hit single to Domingo Gutierrez to lead off the inning. River Pope followed that with a single that sent Gutierrez to third, placing the tying run 90 feet away with no outs. Pedro Ferringo would follow Pope with a single, bringing home the tying run and saddling Hall with a blown save. Aurora would load the bases, thanks to a walk to Medrano, but Hall would strikeout Carlisle and Giles, and Boswell’s long drive would only display warning track power.

Both teams would get a man to third in the 10th, but fail to score. Gray would take care of the ‘Gnats in order in the 11th, giving Aurora the chance they needed. Ferringo would draw a walk from Hall and Medrano would bunt him over to second, bringing up Carlisle. Hall and the ‘Gnats wanted nothing to do with Aurora’s second most productive hitter and instead chose to pitch to Nick Giles – who was in the game only after Aurora manager Kata Hayagawa made the highly unusual decision to pinch run for Britt in the 8th. With the count 1-1, Ferringo broke for third and easily beat the throw, with Carlisle taking second behind him. Giles would be promptly walked to set up the force and it looked like the move might pay dividends when Boswell popped one up foul down the left-field line. Uribe gave chase over the bullpen mounds – only to drop the ball. Uribe charged with an error, Boswell was given a second life and with a full count, he made the error sting by lining an opposite field single and give the Borealis the win – and a 2-0 lead in the series.

The series now moves on to The Lake and Edgardo Diaz will open game 3 against Dean McNeil – who had two starts against Palm Springs and won both – allowing 8 H and a run in 15 IP. McNeil had three starts against Aurora, with no decisions, allowing 7 runs in 17.2 innings. Diaz was even worse, losing all three games he faced the ‘Gnats, allowing 4 homers and 12 runs in 16 IP. Clark Snow will face Tatsui Kouno in game 4. For Snow, he faced Crystal Lake twice, going only 11 innings and allowing 4 runs on 3 homers.

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Michael Topham, President Golden Entertainment & President-CEO of the Aurora Borealis
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:44 pm 
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Revenge-Minded Borealis Dispatch ‘Gnats
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 20, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – Nearly a full year ago the Crystal Lake Sandgnats stormed into Northern Lights Park, down 3-2, needing two wins to return to the PEC as SL Champs – and they accomplished that feat, preventing the Borealis from trying for their 5th title in 7 seasons and a 4th match-up with the F-heads of Florida.

This year, Aurora’s pitching was up to the task of shutting the ‘Gnats down.

The teams embarked onto game 3 with ‘Terror’ Diaz attempting to extend Aurora’s 2-0 lead in the series, while Dean McNeil was looking to offer his ‘mates a chance to get back into the series. Ricks, Parker and Uribe got the ‘Gnats on the board in the second by stringing three singles – two of which were infield singles, together for a run. Diaz then built more trouble in the 4th with a lead-off walk, another infield single and a Mike Britt error, loading the bases – and then a wild pitch to score Crystal Lakes second run. ‘Terror’ would strike out two to appear to get out of the inning unscathed, but Jim Klein had other ideas as he singled home two, upping the lead to 4-0.

Aurora wasn’t quite ready to call it quits, though, and Paul Carlisle would lead-off the 7th with a homer – followed by a Castro single (and stolen base). Medrano’s infield single brought Lawrence Justice to the plate as the tying run – and he’d do his part with a run scoring single to make it 4-2, and Teddy Loetzsch followed with his own 2-out RBI to inch Aurora within a run.

But that would be all the Borealis would muster in the inning and the game. River Pope would single – appearing to drive home Justice with the tying run, but a solid throw from Rincon nailed Justice for the third out at the plate.

The ‘Gnat ‘pen of Lopez, Francis and Josh Hall would shut the door on Aurora, and for ‘Gnat fans, hopefully turn the tide.

Clark Snow, though, had different ideas – and his 3-hit, 6 inning performance put the Borealis in a position to regain momentum. ‘Fido’ would start the second with a single and score on a Justice double, but the ‘Gnats got that run right back as a walk to Ricks, a Tony Parker double and a sac fly by Ed Brown would even the game. Kouno and Snow would scatter hits and keep the game tied at one into the 6th, when Ferringo would single and Britt would double him home for a 2-1 Borealis lead – then in the 7th Aurora would score three more – helped by a Jim Klein error extending the inning and giving Britt a chance for another RBI, helped by a run scoring WP – giving Aurora a 5-1 lead.

Former-Sandgnat ‘Doberman’ would pitch two innings in relief for the hold, and Ron Latour would finish the game with a 1-hit 9th – and with that, the Borealis moved on to game 5 with a chance to clinch the series before heading back to The Front Range.

One would have to assume that things were bleak for Crystal Lake with Mike Provost back on the mound and his 6-inning, 4-hit performance (along with a pair of uncharacteristic walks), coupled with Latour’s two-hitless innings kept Crystal Lake off the scoreboard going into the 9th. Meanwhile, MacCowan held Aurora to 2-hits, heading into the 5th when Aurora got all the offense they would need on this day. Medrano would lead the fifth off with a single and after MacCowan got the next two guys out, River Pope sent Medrano over to third with a single. Ferringo and Carlisle would follow Pope with singles to make it a 2-run inning. Ferringo (single) and Carlisle (1-out walk) set the table for Britt, whose double would make it a 3-0 game.

Jarrod Ricks, who homered three times in a game against Aurora earlier in the year, would touch closer John Gray for 4-bases, but that would be the best the ‘Gnats would do, as Aurora would close out the series (4-1) with a 3-1 victory – with all four Aurora victories seeing Crystal Lake managing but a single run.

Provost would be named the MVP – a 2-0 record and 1-run, 11 H over 14.1 innings, but Pope and Ferringo each had 9 hits and 2 RBI each. Britt was 6-17 with 6 RBI.

So the Borealis will jet back to Aurora, awaiting their opponent. The Evil Evas lead Duluth 3-2 as their series heads back to Minnesota with ‘Rainmaker’ looking to force a game 7 by bettering World League vet Juan Martinez, who signed an August contract with the Evas and in 10 starts was 9-0 with a 2.70 ERA – though he was the losing pitcher in game 2.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:43 pm 
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Horn, Aurora Rift Ends in Break-Up
Ray D. Enzé, NLN baseball blogger

October 21, 2026: Aurora, Colorado – Marriages can seem to last for years, and we want them to be as strong in year 30 as they were in year 1. Inevitably, something happens. Sometimes we know what that something is, others we just fade away. In Aurora's case, something went down between their long-time scout - Joe Horn, and the Aurora Front Office, and no one is talking.

After 11 seasons as the head man of Aurora's scouting department, something happened, and it happened quickly - and it was so powerful that the Borealis have parted ways with the man who played a key role in building a team that is seeking it's 5th title in 8 seasons - before the season has even finished.

Perhaps it was a misunderstanding over money - Horn was finishing the last year of a 4-year deal that paid him $850K per season. As the season waned, Aurora approached Horn regarding his contract extension - expecting a short conversation leading to the signing of a new deal. But GM Will Topham confirmed that 'I have no intention of re-signing and returning to Aurora' was Horn's response. "And he provided no explanation. He got up from the desk and walked out of the office" Topham said.

Stunned by the revelation that some mysterious factor lead to their Head Scout planning on bailing, Aurora chose to be proactive and not wait. League records will show that Horn was fired, but in reality he was simply let go and Aurora began in earnest to look for a new Head Scout.

The search didn't take long. Within hours, Topham was back in front of the press introducing Castelwood, Colorado native Jonathan Donohue, 53, who's most recent experience was with St. John's University. Those in the know rate Donohue highly, with him particularly good at scouting the international pool of players - though his initial evaluation of the Aurora farm system varies minimally from the reports Horn left behind.

Donohue has signed a 5-year deal at $900K a season.

Horn's first draft in 2016 was a talent laden one. CF Matt Ferrell was his first selection, who would hit .298 during his time in Aurora, before being traded to West Virginia for a 1st and 3rd round pick. Also of note in that draft was C Miguel Galvez (traded in the 'Zoom' Barker deal), Junior Cook (trade bait for 'Tugboat'), River Pope and Eric Perkins (who was shipped out this past winter as part of the Flores deals).

Horn's 2017 draft brought Mike Hale and Paul Carlisle. 2019 it was Pedro Ferringo and 2020 was Pablo Medrano. 'Fido' Castro, one of this years Wunderkind candidates, was a 2022 selection. 13 of the 25-man roster this post-season were drafted under Horn's guidance, and his fingerprints can be found on the Contraction Draft selections of 'Terror' Diaz and Domingo Gutierrez, as well as the trades that brought Aurora 'Tugboat', Carlos Rivera, Clark Snow and free-agent signings of Theron Boswell and 'Doberman'.

The 'Boy Wonder' GM and Joe Horn worked closely for years, building a dynastic team out of an organization that was dynastic when they came on board. We may never find out what went down, but we do know that Jon Donohue has some mighty shoes to fill.

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