Hot Baseball on a Cool Sunday
After 3 straight days of cloudy and cool weather, Memphis HDL players were ready for round two of the post-season competition. Everyone should have known the temperature on Sunday morning was going to be chilly. Most players added under shirts or grabbed a pull-over just in case conditions failed to fulfill the weather prognosticator’s predictions that the day would get better as it reached mid-afternoon.
But the early game between the Lost Pizza Orioles and Peterbilt Cardinals felt like mid-March – when all this season’s baseball madness began. To top things off, as players arrived to loosen-up, there was actually a drizzle of light sprinkles or heavy fog misting down on everyone.
The game was slow getting started, as is often the case for our normal 9:00 starts. First pitch for this game was 9:15 AM.
To get players to feel a different perspective on these HDL games, two new Umpires were recruited from North Mississippi to renew players focus on playing the game and letting the umpires call the game. Overall this change was welcome by all the teams. League officers will continue to use this strategy to help maintain a level playing field for all teams competing to come out victorious when it counts most.
LOSER GAME: Peterbilt Cardinals vs Lost Pizza Orioles
Both Orioles and Cardinals came out swinging the sticks as each team scored 2 runs in first inning. In top of the first, after 2 quick outs, Jake Hatchett reached base on a hot shot down the 3rd base line that was ruled an error, but I thought it was a hit.
Kevin High got the start for the Cardinals and was giving 100% for his team while all during the game his sore arm was talking to him (psst: “Kevin,” “That’s enough“). But give Kevin credit, he was trying as best he could to give his team what it needed – somebody who could throw strikes and hope that the Cardinal defense could come up with some consistent defensive support.
After Jake reached base, Nick Harris drilled a pitch to put 2 on. Jodie Wolfe followed with a line-drive RBI single. John McPhail was hit by a pitch to load bases. Then Bo McMinn worked a full count, and after 4 balls, the Orioles had 2 runs.
Peterbilt was the home Team and they wasted no time demonstrating they were ready to challenge as
Johnny Gonzalez reached on E-6 and promptly stole 2nd base. Kevin High’s fly ball allowed him to sneak into 2nd base with Gonzalez moving to 3rd. Up stepped Otis Edwards. Otis was “dialed in” and when he saw a hitable fastball, he jumped on it and tied the score 2-2. No runs scored in 2nd inning. Both pitchers, Kevin High and Nick Harris were throwing strikes.
In top of 3rd the Orioles took advantage of back-to-back walks that set the table for Nick Harris’s 2 RBI single. After Jodie singled, Nick Harris scored when Jodie got caught trying to steal. (1-3-6). All 10 Orioles batters came to the plate and that gave the O’s 4 runs. Now the score was 6-2.
In the 4th inning, both teams scored and this is where the game got interesting. After the Orioles Jake Hatchett doubled, Nick Harris repeated his 2 previous at-bats, knocking in Jake. Now score was 7-2. This inning could have been disastrous for the Cardinals but their defense was playing inspired baseball. For those who saw Oscar Zamudio’s diving catch in center field knows what I am talking about.
But the score changed again in bottom of 4th when James Skinner walked and Oscar Zamudio hot shot to Orioles Shortstop was mishandled. So with 2 men on base, the next Cards batter, Paul Baioni was under the gun to do something for his team. Paul came through like the true veteran he is. Paul‘s level swing made perfect connection with the center of the baseball and it shot into left field to score 2 runs.
Now the score was 7-4. All of sudden the Cardinals had momentum and at the same time, Kevin High was very efficient with his pitches and that in-turn perked up his defense. When Orioles failed to score in the 5th inning, the Cardinals kept attacking Nick Harris. Back-to-back singles by Kevin High and Otis Edwards made the score 7-6. A one-run ball game stayed that way until the 7th inning.
In top of 7th the O’s could only manage 1 run that came on a Sac Fly by Cesar Cabrera. But that made the score 8-6. Then in bottom of the 7th, Johnny Gonzalez singled, Mike Hudson bounced out 1-3, Kevin High walked, Otis Edwards singled and that knocked in Gonzalez and High. Now the game is tied.
Big Game Changer: “Kevin High had reached his Limit”
When Kevin High went 3-0 on Bo McMinn, he turned to James Skinner and let him know he needed help. His arm had screamed “enough!!” . Even though James walked Bo and Skinner allowed the Sac Fly out, James surprised Jodie Wolfe by picking him off for the 3rd out. When Orioles scored a go-ahead run in the 8th and added 2 more runs in the 9th inning, the Cardinals were running out of outs and the meat of their order had batted in the 7th inning.
“So Long Schak – Hate to See You Go.”
For the Cardinals, they had one significant highlight in the bottom of the 8th inning when veteran catcher, James Moroschak, made the best of his “last” at-bat by singling to left field and asking for the ball as a souvenir to mark his 2nd retirement from the HDL. Last year when Schak came out of his prior early retirement, everyone was delighted when Schak came back this season to help balance the teams with a veteran catcher. Schak is admired by everyone who knows him for his hustle and leadership during any ball game he plays. Our sincere appreciation to James Moroschak for his commitment and devotion to the HDL. He is truly a class act that will be missed.
For the Cardinals, their season ended knowing they gave it their best shot with the players they had on their roster. A lot of “what if’s” will be discussed about how the season ended after the Cards having many successful games earlier in the season. Just like in the Majors, injuries and other obligations interfering with key players availability can really put teams in a bind come “crunch time.”
Meanwhile, the Lost pizza Orioles lived to play another game in hopes that they can rebound from their opening round game against the Dodgers when they lost 4-3. So many Orioles players stayed around to see how the Dodgers and Athletics game would turnout.
Afternoon Game: CDS Athletics vs Lomax Dodgers
From previous week’s games, this appeared to have all the elements of a close match. But the Athletics discovered in the 2nd inning that this was not the Dodgers who beat the Orioles 4-3. In that game the Dodgers had the services of Andrew Waddell. But today, Andrew was not available and based on his comments about how awful his left arm felt, it may be doubtful the Dodgers will see Andrew on the mound again this post-season. That means it will be left up to Travis Hill who, going into Sunday’s game, had a record of 7 wins – 3 losses, best record of any single pitcher in the HDL this year.
The Athletics started Kevin Latham. Kevin was “ON”, all game. Through seven innings of work, Latham only allowed 3 runs on 5 hits. In the 8th inning, the A’s brought in Juan Jose Castillo to get some “stay sharp” work and prevent any late rally by the Dodgers.
Offensively for the Dodgers, they were missing Tony Lomax and Patrick Belote who could have made a little difference for the Dodgers, but probably not a 12 run difference as the final score was 15-3 in favor of the Athletics. While the Dodgers struggled to get hits and base runners, the A’s were “in a zone”. The A’s pounded out 21 hits in 9 innings, including an impressive Home Run by Juan Castillo in the top of the 9th Inning.
Athletics: Jose Ortiz (4 for 6), 2 RBI; Juan Castillo (3 for 5); Home Run; 4 RBI; Carlos Canelo, Jeff Allen and Alberto Perez were all 3 for 5.
Dodgers: Greg Bachus and Lowell Hinte were (2 for 4)
Next Week: Game Time – 10:00 AM
Lost Pizza Orioles will face the Lomax Dodgers in an elimination game to determine who gets a shot at beating the Athletics twice if they want to take home the Post Season Trophy.