When you’re Hot – you’re Hot! (Corrected)
It was a long weekend for me with HDL games Friday and Sunday and, in-between, a full day of umpiring youth girls Fastpitch Sofball games plus trying to squeeze in some quality time with my wife, Sandy.
When it was announced to players last week that the HDl actually schedules baseball games on Father’s Day, several players seemed surprised. After all, we observed several holidays during the past 2 months with no games scheduled for Easter, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. And that my friends is the very reason “why?” we play baseball on Father’s Day. Because our loved one’s may have selfish reason’s to want to honor us for how important we are, they seem to understand when we tell them, “I have a game today and I want to play baseball.” I think that was evident Sunday as our attendence for Blue vs White was good but as soon as the game was over. the post-game activities were quickly dissolved so families could have the rest of the day together – – as it should be.
Now for the exciting game highlights:
Let me start by recaping last Friday night’s game between Red & White.
The Peterbilt Reds fell behind in the 2nd inning as the Metlife/Homer Skelton Ford White Team peeled off 6 straight hits off Red Team Starting Pitcher, Dave Sexton, to take an early 6-2 lead going into the 4th inning. The Red team offense found some life in the top of the 4th as they batted around and recorded 5 hits to make the score 8-6 in their favor.
The White team was playing without their Manager, James Moroschak and outfielder, Kevin Nilsen. The Peterbilt team was also missing several important players: Jose Ortiz, Jerry Merchant and Ryan Hogan who is on the DL.
Chris Slayton got the start for the White Team and pitched deep into the game as his knuckleball was “dancing with the Red team Wolves.”
As good as Chris Slayton pitched, David Sexton was just as impressive after they each worked out of a couple of tough innings (2nd & 4th). After the 4th inning, Chris Slayton kept the Red Team from scoring for 5-2/3 innings. Key outs recorded by White Team 3rd baseman, Cory Morgan, played a key role in keeping the Red Team from scoring. Cory had 4 un-assisted put-outs and 3 assists. Meanwhile, on the other side of the defense, Nick Harris playing shortstop when Sexton pitches had a lot of clutch plays as he had 7 assists and 1 put-out. Each team’s catchers threw out runner’s trying to steal 2nd base. First it was Don Hinkle (White) being gunned down by Chris Ollar to Bruce Monti (Red) and then Patrick Belote (Red) being thrown-out by Travis Hill – to Ray Reinhart (White). These were exciting plays that showed how both teams were playing aggressive baseball. On these plays, the 2nd baseman for Red & White teams were just as important as their catchers – they hustled to be in position to make the plays and caught the throws before tagging out the sliding runners.
As each team’s starting pitcher reached high pitch-count totals, their managers made moves to try to keep the game close. With the score tied and Red Team batters managing to get on base off a tired Chris Slayton, James Skinner came on to relieve Slayton and face Chris Ollar with the bases loaded. Skinner pitched well and got 2 strikes on Chris Ollar. When Skinner threw a slider over the outside corner of the plate, Chris was caught looking at strike 3. The Red Team rally ended.
Now, in the bottom of the 10th, all the White team had to do was somehow get on-base and see what they could do to knock in a run. The White Team lead-off hitter, Travis Hill walked, Chris Slayton doubled and then Kevin Latham walked to load the bases. This brought up James Skinner with a chance for a GWH. Nick Harris (now pitching for Red Team) was in a tough spot witb bases loaded and no place to put Skinner. Nick went to a 2-1 count on James and continued to throw borderline strikes to force Skinner to foul off some nasty pitches before swinging wildly at a high fastball that bounced through the left side of the infield for a walk-off RBI.
This game was full of emotion that started prior to the game when it was announced that the White and Red Team would agree to swap second basemen, Bruce Monti (White) moved to the Red team and Ray Reinhart (Red) moved to the White team. These two players stepped up their game after the trades as both players played well defensively and offensively. We wish each of them a satisfying year with their new teams.
Red Team Hit Leaders: Patrick Belote, Chris Ollar, and Mike Tillison each had 2 hits.
White Team Leaders: Cory Morgan and John DiGiacomo each had 3 hits. James Skinner(3 RBI’s), Chris Slayton(2 RBI’s), John Murray and Larry Rutledge(2 RBI’s) had 2 hits a piece.
Pitching Numbers: Dave Sexton – 4 K’s / “0” Walks. Chris Slayton – 5 K’s/ 5 Walks
Sunday (Father’s Day) Game Highlights:
The Homer Skelton Ford-Metlife White team fourth meeting with the Nationwide Blue team was another good game that went down to the wire. Since the HDL schedule during June and July adds a series of single games on Sunday’s to minimize an abundance of double headers, this game was only limited by the single game time limit of 2 hours and 50 minutes. Recently these single games have been able to push the 9 inning maximum. But Sunday, due to long innings in the 3rd, 5th and 7th innings dictated this game would not go past 7 innings. And without a strong effort by the White team in the bottom of the 7th inning to tie and push across the go-ahead run in their last at bat, this game could have easily went extra innings.
At the start of the game, Blue team starting pitcher, Andrew Waddell was as dominant as he was in earlier outings. Through first 4 innings, Waddell had 7 strikeouts and it seemed the White team’s 3 game win streak was about to end. But in the HDL, be patient and keep swinging the bats and crazy things can happen.
The Nationwide boys had to work hard for the 7 run lead they had as the game went to the bottom of the 5th. Leading only 1-0 in the 3rd inning, Tim Wallenstrom got things going for Blue team with a lead-off base hit. Back-to-back hits by Jeff Allen and Brian Nilsen started a rally that got them 4 runs. The rally was helped when White team 3rd baseman, Larry Rutledge muffed a slow roller by Andrew Waddell that could have shut the door. That error allowed Dave Pearce and Glen Coombs to bat and get on base and help make the score 5-0.
But in the bottom of the 5th, the lower hitters in the line-up for the White team started a rally of their own when Don Hinkle smashed a linedrive into the right field gap for a stand-up triple. Larry Rutledge and Ray Rienhart walked to load the bases. Singles by Travis Hill, Kevin Latham, James Skinner and Chris Slayton and a ground out RBI by John DiGiacomo made the score 7-6. Now the game was anybody’s to win or lose.
Travis Hill continued to get stronger and stronger. Through 6 innings of pitching, Travis had 8 K’s and 4 walks to keep the game close. The Nationwide team responded in the top of the 6th with 2 crucial runs when Jeff Combs walked and went to third when Tim Wallenstrom smashed a hard ground ball up the middle that 2nd baseman, Cory Morgan’s only play was try to throw out Combs as he ran for 3rd. Both runners were safe when James Skinner couldn’t hold on to the throw from Morgan when he applied the tag to Combs. When Jeff Allen grounded out, Brian Nilsen came through again to knock in two runs to make the score 9-6.
The Homer Skelton-Metlife team failed to score in the bottom of the 6th and it looked like a 3 run lead would be enough for Blue team to put this (game) in the win columm. A pitching change in the top of the 7th with James Skinner taking over for Travis Hill helped keep the middle of the Blue Team batting order from adding to their lead. That change probably was the difference maker because the White team came out focused to get runners on base and put pressure on the Blue team defense. Travis Hill walked, Shaq grounded into a fielder choice, Kevin Latham got a base hit, James Skinner and Chris Slayton added their base hits to make this a 1 run game. With John DiGiacomo coming to bat. Bo McMinn relieved Andrew Waddell but Jocko hit the 1st pitch for an RBI to tie the game.
With runners on 2nd and 3rd, McMinn intentionally walked Cory Morgan to load the bases and bring Don Hinkle to the plate. Unfortunately, the usually reliable Bo McMinn threw 4 straight balls and the game ended with a walk-off-walk. This is why the title of this recap is: “When you’re Hot – you’re Hot!” The White team competed a 4 game win streak to make their league record 4-5 while Blue team dropped to 7-3.
Blue Team Hit Leaders were: Brian Nilsen (3 for 4 with an Inside-the Park Homerun); Dave Pearce (3 for 4), Glen Coombs and Tim Wallenstron with 2 hits a piece.
White team leaders were: Travis Hill, Kevin Latham and James Skinner with 2 hits each.
Pitching totals: Andrew Waddell had 8 K’s and 6 Walks. Travis Hill also had 8 K’s and 4 walks. James Skinner pitched one inning to get the win with 1 K, 1 BB and 1 hit but no runs allowed.