Wood Bat Tournament Wrap-up (Edited 7/31/13)

The 2013 River City Classic has come and gone for this year. The Huntsville Havoc took the championship trophy back to Huntsville, AL with them as they defeated the Mid South White Sox 7-1.

In the semi’s, Huntsville defeated the River Rats 6-2 while the White Sox defeated the Warriors 14-13. Thanks to all who took part in this years tournament. For team-by-team summary:  www.scorebook.com/rivercityclassic.

HDL GAME RECAPS:

The HDL Legends Over 45 team tried our best to not just represent the HDL in this year’s tournament but to advance to the Sunday Play-off Round. Our opening game on Friday against the Warriors was by far our best effort.  Playing without Paul Baioni, we entered the game with 13 of our 14 roster players.  We called upon veteran David Sexton to do the pitching duties and to go as far as he could to keep us in the game.  The Warriors team had a strong roster of players that included 2 current HDL players (J. Wolfe & J. McPhail) and one former player (Mike Jones). 

For 2-1/2 innings the game was scoreless.  In the first 2 innings, Sexton induced the Warriors hitters to hit 5 Pop-ups or Fly-ball outs and one ground out play.  The Warriors first run came as the result of a Sexton “Balk” and a base-hit single to give Warriors an early 2-0 lead.  But in the top of the 4th, James Skinner walked, Glen Coombs singled and then John DiGiacomo followed with a single to load the bases.  After Mike Tollison K’d to make our 2nd out, David Sexton turned on a fastball from the Warrior’s pitcher that carried over the out-stretched glove on their left-fielder that allowed Skinner and Coombs to tie the game.

However, the Warriors re-took the lead in the bottom of the 4th inning to make the score 4-2.  In the top of the 5th, Jerry Tatum picked up his 2nd hit of the game and moved to second base on Rutledge’s bouncer to the third base.  Larry Hunsucker hit a “hot-shot” at the Warrior first baseman who stabbed the ball and get Hunsucker for the 2nd out. The inning ended with Tatum on 3rd as Todd Gilreath bounced out 6-3.

The Warrior’s extended their lead to 8-2 in the bottom of the 5th as nine batters came to the plate. In the 5th, the Warrior lead-off hitter singled. Their next batter flew out to Buzzy in Left. David Sexton then hit the Warrior pinch-hitter. The Warrior’s lead-off hitter then hit a “gapper” to left field that Mike Tollison just missed catching.  By the time Buzzy stopped the ball and relayed to Skinner, 2 more runs scored and the batter was on 3rd. Two more singles and another hit batter made the score 8-2.

For the rest of the game, our HDL line-up battled every pitch to try to add base runners but it seemed every hard hit ball was “right-at” a Warrior fielder. It was such a good game, that we played 9 innings in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

SATURDAY DISASTER:

Saturday’s games were played at First Tennessee Fields.  It was a beautiful day with cool temperatures and hazy overcast.  With Paul Baioni back from vacation we were almost at full strength but were missing James Skinner who had to work until 11AM.  With Mike Tollison slated to pitch we felt we had a chance to beat the MSBL White Sox. unfortunately Mike had early control problems as 5 of 9 White Sox batters walked in 1st inning but only 3 runs scored.

After our lineup failed to score in bottom of first inning, the White Sox scored 3 more in top of 2nd on 2 singles, a double and only one walk.  The score was now 6-0.  In top of 4th the Sox scored 2 more runs on 2 singles and 2 walks.  Rutledge relieved Tolli with HDL down 8-0 and finished the inning.  In the bottom of the 4th the HDL hitters woke up as we scored 3 runs to make the score 8-3.  In the inning, Paul Baioni got things started with a Double, Hunsucker walked, Dave Sexton K’d, Glen Coombs walked to load bases. Jocko walked for an RBI. Jerry Tatum and Todd Gilreath then had back-to-back singles to score our 3 runs.

In the top of 5th, Rutledge threw strikes but the Sox hitters recorded 5 hits to push their lead to 12-3.  HDL answered with 2 more runs in bottom of 5th when John Robertson was hit by pitch, Baioni singled and with 2 outs, Glenn Coombs cleared the bases with a shot in the left center gap.  Now the score was 12-5.

Paul Baioni started the 6th inning and only gave up one unearned run to push the score to 13-5.  In the bottom of the 6th, HDL had 3 straight singles from Tatum, Gilreath and Favazza that helped HDL scored 2 more runs to close the score to 13-7.

The HDL scored one more run in the bottom of 8th but was never able to hold the White Sox scoreless the rest of the game as they continued to take advantage of walks, Hit Batters and good hitting to add to their lead.  Final score:  White Sox 19 – HDL 8

Paul Baioni, Glen Coombs, Jerry Tatum and Todd Gilreath each collected 3 hits a piece.  It was fun watching our hitters compete and show we have some pretty good sluggers in the HDL.  What we lacked was effective pitching like Dave Sexton displayed the night before.  Every team in this tournament had offensive players who know how to hit the baseball.  Getting those hitters to hit the ball to your defense determined the winner from the loser.

DOWN HILL FROM THERE:

The third game against the MSBL River Rats was another case of our pitchers (not) finding the plate.  I will not provide the individual totals.  It will suffice to say – IT WAS UGLY. Our only high point was in the first inning when Paul Baioni tripled into the left field corner and trotted home on Larry Hunsucker’s RBI single but Larry was called out as he slid into 2nd base trying to make something happen.  The HDL had a total of 7 hits in 5 innings.  With the score 25-1, we waived the “White Towel” and like Elvis – “Left the Building!”

IN PERSPECTIVE

The game of Baseball is only disappointing when you play hard and your team does not meet everyone’s individual expectations.  As a player, we expect the best from our selves and we hope our teammates will achieve their individual success so we can appreciate each others contributions.  When that doesn’t happen (enough) our heart, that we pour into the game, is left empty.  But having played hundreds, if not more, baseball games in our lives, we know there is always tomorrow and another chance to make our dreams and aspirations come true.

SHOUT-OUTS:

For the tournament:  (Players with hits)

JERRY TATUM   (6/8)   .750

PAUL BAIONI   (5/7)   .714

GLEN COOMBS (5/9) .444

TODD GILREATH (3/10), LARRY HUNSUCKER (3/10), DAVID SEXTON (3/10),  JOHN ROBERTSON (1/3),   .300

BUZZY FAVAZZA (1/6) .167

JOHN DiGIACOMO (1/7)  .143

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