PLAYING TO WIN – Is that what it’s all about?
If 2nd Round games match the drama of opening round, we are in for another Sunday of HDL Baseball Excitement.
Game One: Peterbilt 8 – Prudential Orange 5
Just like last year, both games on Sunday went 9 innings. Time limit was never a factor. The Prudential Orange Team came out strong in the very first inning scoring 3 quick runs off Red Team starter, Kevin Latham. Patrick Belote singled, Nick Harris walked, then back-to-back doubles by Cory Morgan (3 for 4) and Greg Bacchus (2 for 5) sent 3 runs to the plate before Latham settled down and retired three batters in a row.
Nick Harris was on the mound for Orange and was dominating for 5 innings. But Kevin Latham was matching Nick Harris as he was making good pitches and went into the 4th inning trailing 3-0. That changed when Patrick Belote came to the plate with one out and followed Jerry Tatum’s second hit of the early innings. Patrick said he was just trying to get a hit when he turned on a Latham pitch that turned into a line-drive Home run over the left field fence, about 30 feet inside the left field foul pole. This was only the 2nd (out-of-the-park) home run of the season with a wood bat since Jake Hatchett‘s blast on August 17th.
The Red Team did not let the 5 run lead affect them. They kept playing their game. In the top of the 6th inning something totally bizarre happened, the Peterbilt Red team sent 11 batters to the plate and took the lead 6-5. Patience by Red team hitters and making Nick throw strikes led to a big inning when Jose Ortiz, Glenn Coombs, Tim Harris and Adam Wasson came through with clutch hits with men on base.
After taking the lead, Peterbilt Red team did a smart thing, they brought in Andrew Waddell to give the Orange team something different to look at. Andrew was ready for the challenge as he did not allow the Orange team to score the rest of the game allowing only 3 hits in 4 innings of work to go along with 2 K’s and 3 walks. The Prudential team tried the same tactic bringing in veteran Jodie Wolfe but the Red team momentum was unstoppable at that point. Jodie held the Red team to only 2 runs and worked out of two bases loaded jams.
After the game, the Peterbilt team enjoyed their usual post game beverages a little more than usual as they all had a positive feeling about their chances during the post-season. Prudential Orange will need to get their “MoJo” back to stay alive in the tournament. They have good players, especially with James Skinner rested for their next game. Last year, Lomax Orange lost their first game to the Red team and came back to win it all. So anything is possible at this point.
Game Two – CDS Gray 5 – Lomax Blue 4
For the past several weeks, the Lomax Blue team and CDS Gray team have played very competitive games to end the regular season tied in the standings with a record of 11 wins & 8 loses each. So when these two teams were slated to play each other, the expectation was the game “should” be close.
With each team missing team roster players like Steve Eordogh and Johny Gonzalez (Gray) and Terry Terrell, Kevin Nilsen(Blue), there was concern that the game would be close or one team would run away with game. As always, the flow of any baseball game is controlled by the pitching and defense.
With Wes Hill on the mound for Gray team and Jake Hatchett on mound for Blue, this game had all the elements of a low scoring game. Just like in the first game between Orange & Red, when Blue team jumped out to a 3 run lead in first inning, it appeared the Blue team had the advantage. Larry Hunsucker walked, PW Burnett singled and Bo McMinn reached on E6. With men on base, Jake Hatchett shot a single to the outfield to score 2 runs. Jake scored to make the score 3-0. In the bottom of the 1st, Carlos Cabrera walked and scored on Juan Blanco’s first hit of game. Cutting the Blue team lead to 2 runs was critical.
Neither team could do much against each other in the 2nd inning. Wes Hill received outstanding support from Gray team outfielders as Oscar Zamudio and Carlos Canelo Jr who each made running catches of baseballs that looked like they were going over their heads. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, the Gray team started a rally when Wes Hill singled. But when Carlos Cabrera K’d for the 2nd out of the inning, chances for runs didn’t look too good. But back-to-back singles by Juan Castillo and Juan Blanco scored Wes Hill and Castillo. The game was tied (3-3). Innings 4 & 5 belonged to the pitchers as they did not allow any runs.
In the top of the 6th inning, the Blue team offense was in position for a big inning when they loaded the bases. But their only run came on a pitch that hit Kurt Adkison‘s shoe to force in Otis Edwards from 3rd base. This run gave Blue team a 4-3 lead. For 2 more innings, pitching and defense kept the score close. In a move to make sure Wes Hill didn’t get too tired, Juan Blanco took over pitching duties for Gray team in top of the 7th inning. Blanco has proved in his rookie season to be a 5 tool player as he has done it all for the Gray team, hitting, fielding, pitching and running the bases. Juan did not allow a hit and struck out 4 in 3 innings of work.
With Blue team still leading in the bottom of the 8th inning, Carlos Canelo Jr hit a slow roller toward Bo McMinn, playing 2nd base. Bo knew Carlos was speedy and he had to hustle to the ball in order to make the play at first base. Bo picked up the ball but his forward momentum caused his throw to be wide of Larry Hunsucker as it went to the fence near where players have been leaving personal equipment bags laying. The ball ended up between the equipment bag and fence. Gray team players thought the play should have been ruled immediately “dead ball” and Canelo awarded 2nd base. However, Carlos Canelo never attempted to advance to second after he made a wide turn at first but decided to play it safe and go back to first.
This was an unusual play that caused confusion. Since a ground rule had not been established, prior to the game, the umpires allowed the play to continue since Larry Hunsucker (Blue 1st baseman) had no difficulty retrieving the ball. Had Larry held up his hands and not attempted to touch the ball, the Umpires would have killed the play and awarded Canelo 2nd base. Likewise, had Canelo attempted to advance to 2nd on the play and been thrown out, the umpires would have had to rule on “loose equipment” affecting the runner being thrown out.
As it turned out, on the next pitch, Jake Hatchett tried to pick-off Canelo and the wild throw allowed Canelo to advance anyway. Then a couple of pitches later, Carlos Canelo Jr stole third base and subsequently scored on an errant throw from Blue catcher, Travis Hill. This run tied the score at 4-4. But the Gray team was not finished, even though Wes Hill and Carlos Cabrera struck out. Juan Castillo started a 2-Out rally with a single and went to 2nd on a wild pitch then stole third base as Blue team seamed focused on trying to get Juan Blanco Out to end the inning. But Juan Blancoi is a player that has to be respected when he has a bat in his hand. Blanco fouled off numerous close pitches from Jake Hatchett until he finally got a pitch up in the zone that Blanco sent down the right field line to give the Gray team a 5-4 lead.
All-in-All, we couldn’t ask for two of the more exciting HDL baseball games. We have no idea what to expect next Sunday when the two Winners (Red & Gray) face each other and the two losers (Orange and Blue) battle each other to determine which team will stay alive in this wild and crazy 2014 HDL Baseball season.