No one could have imagined that Utica’s PGCBL team would be a legitimate contender for a PGCBL title just two years after finishing with the worst record in PGCBL history at 9-36. Yet, here they were. Facing a perennial powerhouse in the West Division, the Elmira Pioneers, the Blue Sox took Game 1 in Elmira by shutting out the Pioneers 3-0 behind eight gutsy innings from starting pitcher Craig Prince, an RBI from Taylor Olmstead and a pair of runs driven in by Franklin Jennings, and yet another save by Ryan Green. However, that win came at a costly price as both Olmstead and first baseman Mason Fessler were injured. Their absence in the lineup strongly impacted the team in Game 2 in Utica as Elmira’s 6’11” starting pitcher, Sean Hjelle, manhandled Utica’s lineup, throwing a complete-game two-hitter and retiring 25 hitters in a row in a 4-0 victory to send the series back to Elmira for a winner-take-all Game 3 at Dunn Field. There, the Sox got on the board first as a run scored in the top of the 4th inning on an error by Elmira starter Marc Galvan. In the bottom of the 5th, the Pios loaded the bases with one out against Utica starter Michael Klingensmith, prompting manager Mark Moriarty to call upon sidearmer Eric Handelman to relieve him. Storm Wilson drove in the tying run on a sacrifice fly and Rob Perteet put his team ahead on an RBI single before getting himself caught in a rundown for the final out of the inning. The score was still 2-1 after six innings, but the Blue Sox tied it up in the top of the 7th inning on a clutch RBI single off the bat of all-star catcher Mitch Calandra. Handelman had thrown an inning and George Navadel followed that with an inning of his own, but Utica closer Ryan Green came out of the bullpen with two runners on base and only one out in the bottom of the 7th and successfully worked out of the jam to keep the ballgame tied at 2 all. Parker Caracci, Elmira’s closer, came in to pitch in the 8th and Utica’s bats were ready for him. Robbie Young drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a base hit by Jared Baldinelli. Dylan Hutcheson then loaded the bases on a single for Jennings, who promptly hit a sacrifice fly to bring Young home and put Utica back in front 3-2. With Caracci still on the mound in the 9th, they scored two more crucial insurance runs off of him on RBIs by Kyle Winkler and Baldinelli. Green, who had escaped not one, but two bases-loaded jams, pitched a less stressful 9th inning. He got a pair of popouts from Tyler Plantier and Lucas Denney, then emphatically struck out Connor Burns for the second time on the night for the final out of the game, and the series too. The Blue Sox were officially the “Best in the West” in their first year with their new team name and they were also now heading to their first PGCBL Championship Series in franchise history.