HDL ROUND TWO HIGHLIGHTS – Sorry for the Delay~
Last Weekend HDL Games determined who stayed alive and which team went home.
Winners Bracket finals: Nationwide Blue vs Xtreme Green
Loser’s Bracket Elimination Game: Peterbilt Red vs Homer Skelton Ford/Metlife
Game One: Blue vs Green
There was no doubt this would be a good contest. During the opening week, Nationwide Blue knocked Homer Skelton Ford-Metlife into the Losers Bracket with a convincing 17-5 win. Meanwhile, the Xtreme Green won their playoff opener against a scrappy Peterbilt Red team by a close score of 4-3.
On Sunday, Sept. 30th there was overnight concern that advancing rain might interfere with scheduled games. The radar indicated light rain potential was moving up from the south. But at 9:00 Am for the game with the Blue–Green, conditions were nearly perfect. It appeared at least the first game would have best chance to get in a game. The second game (White-Red) looked “IFFY”.
During the pre-game warm-ups for Blue–Green game it was my impression that both teams were ready to play. There was definitely a serious tone from players in their pre-game preparation. I sort of sensed some players were wound a little tighter than usual but if you asked them how they felt about the game, they would probably just say they were excited about playing the other team.
This was the match-up that was anticipated and would be fun to watch. Xtreme Green had one of their top pitchers, PW Burnett (5-1) going against the Nationwide Blue team’s left-handed starter, Andrew Waddell (4-2).
Nationwide was Visiting team so they quickly took the early lead 2-0 as Brian Nilsen and Bo McMinn scored off John McPhail’s smoking line drive base hit to get the Blue on the board.
However, in the bottom of the 1st, the Xtreme Green answered when 3rd baseman, Kevin High walked, moved to 2nd on a passed ball, then scored when Green team CF, Otis Edwards, sent an Andrew Waddell fastball into centerfield to make the score 2-1.
After this early offensive spurt, each team’s pitchers settled down and found their groove. Neither team scored in the 2nd & 3rd innings. During this phase of the game, the injury bug struck both teams. First to get bit was Blue team, Manager/Pitcher/Infielder, Bo McMinn. Bo came to the plate in the 3rd inning with one out and teammates, J. Allen and B. Nilsen, on 1st/2nd. on Bo’s frist pitch from PW Burnett, Bo swung hard at an outside pitch and during his follow-through, Bo immediately grabbed his left rib cage in pain.
The pain was so intense that Bo asked for a replacement, Terry Terrell. Bo sat out the remainder of the game just hoping the injury was not serious. Bo‘s greatest concern was how the Blue Team would continue to put offensive pressure on the Green team.
The Green Team first injury occurred later in this same inning when Jerry “Iron Man” Tatum was injured when a foul tip caught his little finger on his right hand. Usually a foul tip is not always serious. As a catcher, we were used to seeing Jerry shake off a nasty foul tip and get back to the game. But this time Jerry was surprised to see blood dripping from his finger. Jerry asked for a “Band-Aid” because he did not want to slow down the game. Jerry was bound and determined to finish the inning and the game – and that’s what he did. It wasn’t until 2 days later that Jerry found out his finger was broken in 2 places and it was the bone that caused the bleeding.
In the 4th inning the Green team took the lead 3-2 when Brady Benjamin reached on an error by the Blue shortstop, stole 2nd and scored on PW Burnett’s base hit. PW Burnett scored later in the inning when Johnny Birkenstock was hit by a pitch with bases loaded.
The Green team lead was short lived as the Blue team rallied in the top of the 5th when they scored 4 runs to re-take the lead. Paul Baioni got the Blue offense started with one of his best at bats of the post-season when he worked the count full facing PW Burnett before shooting the ball between 3rd & Short. Jeff Combs was next up and was hit by a pitch. Jeff Allen singled to knock in Baioni.
When Brian Nilsen walked, the Green team made a switch and brought in Brady Benjamin, last season’s pitcher of the year. With 2 outs, it was Dave Pearce who came through with a clutch hit that bounced through the right side of the infield. The rally ended when Andrew Waddell was thrown out at the plate. Score now was 6-3 in favor of Blue.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Green team came right back and scored 2 runs courtesy of Otis Edwards (base hit) and Jodie Wolfe who got on base when Blue team first baseman, Terry Terrell failed to get the handle on a Jodie Wolfe ground ball. On this play, Andrew Waddell and Paul Baioni collided trying to beat Jodie to the bag. Paul Baioni had to leave the game with a jammed neck injury.
But there was no “quit” in the Blue team, despite all the injuries and bad breaks, they kept fighting. In the top of the 6th, Mike Morris got a base hit and scored on Jeff Combs 2-base bomb that was one of the most impressive hits of the game. This inning looked like the Blue team was about to explode as they loaded the bases. But Terry Terrell’s ground ball with one out turned into an inning ending double play. The score was 7-5 in favor of the Blue. All they had to do was hold the Green team for 6 more outs and they would move into the post-season “driver’s seat.” But that would not happen.
With one out in the bottom of the 6th, Jerry Tatum came through with a base hit. Arron Sinzheimer had a base hit but was forced out on Birkenstock’s fielder’s choice ground ball. Jerry Tatum scored on Cory Pratt’s chopper that was mis-handled at 2nd base. With a runner on 3rd, Cory stole 2nd base and then scored on Kevin High’s ground ball that was again not handled cleanly and allowed the tieing and winning runs to score. Final score, Green 8 – Blue 7
GAME TWO: LOSER BRACKET ELIMINATION GAME – RED VS WHITE:
Nobody like the “Loser Go Home” game. But the reward for winning this game is your team gets to play another game.
From the start, everyone was concerned about the weather. Right at game time, Tobey was feeling rain drops but nothing heavy or felt the game would be affected as long as it only sprinkled. And that is what it did for most of the game, off and on.
From the get go, the Red Team had the advantage just by the size of their roster. Peterbilt had 14 players while the White team only had 9 players.
The visiting team, Peterbilt, scored in the top of the first when Patrick Belote walked and scored on Cesar Roman’s RBI single.
The White team tied the score in the bottom of the first in a similar fashion. Lead-off hitter, Travis Hill, got a base hit, stole second and scored on Cory Morgan’s RBI base hit.
The Homer Skelton Ford-Metlife White team starting pitcher, Kevin Latham, was a warrior on the mound making pitch-after-pitch to help keep his team in the game. The White Team actually had a 2-1 lead going into the top of the 3rd inning. The Peterbilt Red team benefitted from back-to-back walks to lead-off batter Jose Ortiz and Patrick Belote. After Tim Harris K’d, Nick Harris got the big hit when he tripled with a 2 RBI blast that bounced into the right field fence over the head of Larry Rutledge. Nick would score on a passed ball making the score 4-2.
In the bottom of the 5th, the White team made the score 4-3 as Cory Morgan reached on a base hit and moved to second base on a mis-played ball by Red Team right fielder. Cory then scored on an infield error to shortstop. This would be the final run for the White team in the game.
The Peterbilt Red team Starting pitcher, David Sexton, was enjoying one of his best games of the season as he got the support he needed, offensively and defensively. When David started missing his spots, the Red Team management called on Cesar Roman to take-over. Cesar shut down the White Team the rest of the game and probably should get credit for a “Hold” and a “Save”.
The Peterbilt Red team added one run in the 6th inning and one run in the 7th inning to make the final score 6-3. In the 6th inning, D.J. Clark moved Nick Harris to 3rd base with a base hit where Nick scored on an infield throwing error. In the 7th inning, Patrick Belote reached base on a hit and moved to 3rd base when Catcher James Moroschak pick-off attempt was off target. At this point Kevin Latham was not getting any help from the home plate umpire as his pitches allowed 3 straight hitter’s to walk and force in the final run. The damage was done. The Homer Skelton Ford-Metlife team has played their final game. But they could feel proud they played as well as they could under the circumstances.
The Peterbilt Red team definitely deserved the victory and is a team that can’t be taken lightly. The Red team is equally capable of upsetting the Blue and the Green team. As long as the Red Team plays good baseball, they can win and advance in the HDL Post-season tournament. They are playing with a lot of confidence.