Sunday September 17th was a good day for HDL Baseball Play-off action. Weather was hot but HDL players don’t care when it is Play-off season.
Game one was between Lost Pizza Orioles and V-Brothers Athletics. Both teams were tagged with their first loss in the Play-offs the previous Sunday. This meant today, 9/17, one of the teams that scored the least amount of runs would be sent to the sidelines to watch their friends on the other 3 teams take the next step to continue playing for the HDL Championship.
It didn’t matter that the Lost Pizza O’s had only 3 wins the entire season. They have good players who are capable of challenging any of the other teams in the HDL. The Lost Pizza Orioles season has been a series of low scoring games and a lack of timely hitting and reliable defense.
Their opponent, the V-Brothers Athletics also have had an up and down year. In four previous meetings during the regular season, the A’s have beat the Orioles 3 out of 4 times. Each team put their best 9 players on the field. In the Orioles case, all they had were 9 players. The fact that their outfield was made up of Ray Reinhart in Left field, Johnny Houghton in Center and Tim Wallenstrom in Right field had to have been adding a lot of pressure on Pitcher, PW Burnett, to try to pitch away from the center of the plate and avoid any deep hits to the outfield by A’s hitters.
With the Orioles being the lower seed, they batted first. Lead-off hitter Larry Hunsucker hit the ball hard but a shallow playing right fielder by A’s made a running catch to retire Larry. The next O’s batter, Judson Belote, hit a bouncer to short and was thrown out 6-3. But three straight singles by Brett Delk, PW Burnett and Brandon Anderson scored 2 runs off A’s Starter, Kevin Latham. Mike Morris popped up to end the inning. From this point on, the game was a “pitchers duel” between PW and Kevin Latham. Both pitchers limited or scattered opponent’s hits and relied on clutch defense.
When PW Burnett is “ON”, there are few hitters in the HDL who can hit him consistently. The one lone run scored by the Athletics was Nick Harris. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, with 2 outs, Nick swung at a high outside pitch that sliced toward the right field line and into the corner of outfield. By the time the relay throw from Tim Wallenstrom made it to the cut-off man, Nick was racing toward home plate for the only run the A’s would score in the game.
The Orioles would add an insurance run in the top of the 7th inning. With 2 outs, Larry Hunsucker singled to center and moved to 2nd on Judson Belote’s ground ball that was bobbled for an E-5. This brought up Brett Delk who singled to knock in Hunsucker to make the final score 3-1 in favor of the Orioles. In the bottom of the 8th inning, PW Burnett was in complete control setting down the Athletics 1-2-3 to seal the victory.
Orioles stay alive and will play Sunday in finals of Losers Brackett. The Athletics are eliminated but are congratulated on an excellent season as they were always ready to play or pitch in to help another team when extra players are needed.
Orioles: Larry Hunsucker, Brett Delk, PW Burnett and Brandon Anderson each had 2 Hits.
Athletics: Nick Harris, Kevin Latham had 2 hits each
Athletics: Kevin Latham – 8 IP, 3 R, 9 H, 5 K’s, 1 BB- 1 HBP, 2 ER
Game 2 – Winner vs Winner
This was a game of surprises and gut-check competitiveness.
After week one, when the Prudential Tigers advanced after knocking off the V-Brothers A’s by a score of 4-3 and the Lomax Dodgers barely escaped a first round upset to the Lost Pizza Orioles, 10-9, you had to wonder, just who would have the edge in this game? Let’s face it, the Lomax Dodgers have been the most solid HDL team in 2017. The only thing that could hurt them would be a slight case of over-confidence.
The first inning of the game was “Tit-for-Tat”, neither team scored. The Lomax Dodgers elected to start Cesar Roman. Cesar has pitched effectively in 7 game appearances, 5 Starts and 2 in Relief and a record of 3 wins – 2 losses. The Lomax Dodgers strategy was to minimize the number innings Juan-JoseCastillo would be needed.
In the top of the second inning, Cesar induced a 3 – unassisted out when Derek Calloway’s line drive was caught by Tony Lomax. After that, the next 8 Tiger batters probably set an HDL record of 8 straight hits that led to a 7-0 early lead. After 5 runs had crossed the plate, Derek Calloway hit a flyball to centerfield for out #2, the next Tiger batter, John DiGiacomo slapped a base hit that score runs 6 & 7. This is when Lomax Manager Jose Ortiz decided he had waited long enough. It was time to bring in Juan-Jose for the final out to end the Dodgers nightmare inning.
As usually happens, Jose Ortiz called his team together and mandated they start chipping away at the Tigers Lead because he expected Castillo to hold the Tigers. The Dodgers scored 1 run in bottom of 2nd, 3 runs in bottom of 3rd inning to make the score 7-4. With Tigers unable to put the ball in play in 3rd, 4th and 5th innings, the Dodgers climbed back to make the score 6-7 in bottom of the 5th.
In the top of the 6th, Jodie Wolfe singled, Juan Blanco K’d looking. Jake Hatchett worked a walk. JohnMcPhail followed with a slicing drive down the first base line and into the corner. His double gave Tigers an 8-6 lead that punched a little hole in the Dodgers Sail.
But the Dodgers came right back in bottom of 6th. With Greg Bacchus at the plate, a ball in the dirt caused Patrick Belote to think about dashing home. When Brandon Anderson threw toward 3rd to pick-off Belote, the ball glanced off Pat’s helmet and into right field. Patrick’s un-earned run made the score 7-8 in favor of Tigers.
Jodie Wolfe had pitched the entire game and was throwing every pitch in his arsenal to keep the Dodgers from scoring. When Dodgers failed to score in bottom of 7th, the Tigers mounted one last rally by adding 2 runs on back-to-back hits by McPhail & Calloway.
Final score 10-8.
With the loss, the Lomax Dodgers find their selves in the “Losers” bracket and must face the Lost Pizza Orioles this Sunday to see who gets a shot at beating the Tigers twice if the winner survives a game that promises to be a battle. Defense will be tested. Balls and Strikes will be emotional. Hits will make the difference. Come out and watch this game. The outcome is anybodies guess.
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