Lomax Dodgers Win it All
Last Man Standing Wins:
Every year the HDL Championship game comes down to the two best teams. Not to say the two teams who didn’t make it to the finals were lesser teams, they just did not have what the two teams that made it to Sunday’s Final game had. So what did these 2 teams have? My short list would include: <> Grit & Grind <> Intensity <> Perspiration <> Inspiration <> Never say die <> Focus <> Competitive Fight <> Respect for each other <> Unity <> Pride, Personal and Team. I could go on & on. If I left out something more obvious or more appropriate, please post your perception in a comment.
For this important game, the weather was forecast for possible problems. But actually, no problems ever materialized. The biggest noise that sounded like thunder was the post game fireworks that Robert Miller exploded to celebrate the final results. A heavy blanket of clouds helped shield the mid-morning sunshine and make conditions somewhat pleasant, except for elevated humidity. As long as it was not raining, each team players were happy to be playing this game while their enthusiasm and anxiety was elevated much higher than the humidity.
The game started on-time. The coin toss to determine Home Team was won by the Prudential Tigers. With this being a championship finals game, and the 9 inning format promised, the only advantage of being home team is if the Home team is ahead by top of 9th inning, they might not need to bat in bottom of 9th.
The Prudential Tigers, led by their veteran manager, Jodie – Opps! I mean Don Hinkle, made some line-up changes to show the Dodgers something different. Juan Blanco was the choice to toe the rubber for Tigers. Blanco mixed up his pitches and held the Dodgers scoreless even though he walked Cesar Cabrerra and allowed a base hit to Greg Bacchus. The Tigers defense was sharp.
Then in bottom of the 1st inning, the Tigers played “small ball” with Johnny Gonzalez walking, Jodie moved him to 3rd base with a well executed bunt. When Juan Blanco chopped a swinging bunt toward 3rd place line, it looked like Johnny G. was about to be tagged out at home plate. But Juan-Jose Castillo’s toss to Bacchus sailed over Greg’s head to allow Gonzalez to score. Jake Hatchett’s strikeout made the 2nd out but Juan Blanco was at second base. Back-to-back hits by John McPhail and Derek Calloway would have given the Tigers a 3 run lead but McPhail was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. Tigers 2 – Dodgers 0.
In top of 2nd inning, Cesar Roman walked, Quintell Myers K’d, but Tony Lomax drilled a base hit up the middle to score Cesar. In bottom of 2nd inning, Juan-Jose C. did not allow a base runner.
The third inning was a big inning for the Dodgers as Cesar Cabrera singled, Jose Ortiz lined out, Greg Bacchus doubled, Juan Castillo was called out looking at strike 3 for 2nd out. So with 2 runners ON and 2 Outs, Cesar Roman hit a 2 strike pitch that landed about 10 feet from left center fence when Johnny Gonzalez was unable to adjust to the overhead sunshine that impeded Gonzalez clear vision of the baseball. Both runners scored to make the score 4-2. This unfortunate play would prove to be one of the difference makes in the final score. The entire Prudential Tigers team was a little shocked at this stroke of bad luck. In a game of this caliber, missed opportunities in clutch situations have huge impact on the flow of the game and eventually the outcome.
It took the Tigers a couple of innings to regain their composure as hitters 1-2-3 went down 1-2-3 in bottom of the 3rd inning. The Tigers next chance to keep the game close was upset in top of 4th inning when Paul Baioni singled. Next batter for Dodgers, Carlos Canelo, chopped a bunt in front of plate that Catcher Jake Hattchett hustled to pick-up and throw out the speedy Canelo. When Jake’s throw tailed toward the foul side of first base and first baseman , Ben Eldred, the baseball rolled all the way to gate area along right field fence. By the time the ball was controlled by Tigers, Baioni had scored and Canelo was on 3rd base. Juan Blanco battled to force 2 fly balls but Jose Ortiz base hit knocked in Canelo to make the score 6-2.
In bottom of the 4th inning, Jake Hatchett walked and scored on a base hit by John McPhail. The score was now 6-3. Don Hinkle made a brilliant move bringing in Ben Eldred to relieve Blanco and give the Dodgers a different pitcher to look at. Ben did an outstanding job not allowing any Dodger runners to score in 4 innings of work. For the remainder of the game, each team’s pitchers and defense controlled the pace and tempo of the game as neither team could score.
The game came down to the bottom of the ninth inning with the score 6-3. The Prudential Tigers had to score 2 runs to tie the game. Leadoff hitter, Jake Hatchett, popped up for out #1. But veteran John McPhail singled for his third hit of the game. Derek Calloway was at bat when a “Balk” was called on J.J. Castillo on a pitch that Derek hit to left field that carried over Baioni’s head. However, when a “Balk” is called, play is immediately ruled “Dead Ball – No Pitch”, which negated Derek’s hit. McPhail advanced to 2nd base on the Balk. Calloway eventually walked to put 2 men on. Jason Nilsen was credited with an RBI that scored John McPhail when Jason’s ground ball forced Calloway at 2nd base but Cesar Cabrera’s relay to first base pulled Tony Lomax off the bag and McPhail scored. John DiGiacomo fly out ended the game, Final Score 6-4.
Lomax Dodgers: Greg Bacchus – 2 for 3; All other Dodger Batters had one hit each except for J.J. Castillo, Jason Mayrena and Lee Nixon.
Prudential Tigers: John McPhail – 3 for 4, Other batters with one hit: Juan Blanco, Derek Calloway.
Winning Pitcher: Juan-Jose Castillo – 9 IP, 4 Runs, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 7 K’s 3 Walks
Losing Pitcher: Juan Blanco – 4 IP, 6 Runs, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 K’s 2 BB; Ben Eldred – 4 IP, 0 Runs, 1 Hit, 3 K’s, 2 BB
This ends the 2017 HDL Baseball Season. A Post Season Awards Banquet is scheduled for Saturday, November 11th at the Butcher Shop. Additional details will be distributed. Please make plans to attend this special event.