When the V-Brothers Athletics play the Thompson Truck Center Cardinals next Sunday for Game one of the best 2 out of 3 series, the “favorite” to win the series is too close to call. Both teams have the players who can challenge the other teams line-up.
The A’s knocked off the Lomax Dodgers in two games and sat out yesterday waiting on the game 3 outcome between the Cardinals and Tigers. (More on that game later in this article) So the A’s are either going to be well rested or rusty from a lack of baseball consistency.
The series between the Cardinals and Tigers was like a “Heavyweight” fight. In 3 games played, the Tigers scored 24 runs and the Cardinals scored 26 runs. Games 2 and 3 of the semi-final series were won by the Cardinals by having their best players available to play. Patrick and Judson Belote and Terry Terrell made a big difference in the offense and defense of the Cardinals.
But the A’s proved they can play the game when situations are tough. In the back-to-back wins by the Athletics, the Dodgers had the A’s down 4-3 in game 1 of their series. The A’s were either very lucky or the Dodgers were equally unlucky to not come out with a win in game 1 when the A’s kept battling and found a way to win. (Almost the same way the Cardinals won yesterday when the Tigers had the Cardinals down by 3 runs in the Tie-breaker format played in the top of the 9th inning)
The A’s have developed some discipline at the plate by swinging at pitches that resemble strikes and laying off of pitches not even in the strike zone. This is where each team’s pitchers will make a difference. Each teams pitcher has to work the count and move the batters eyes around to get hitters guessing on where the pitch looks like it is going.
The other “difference maker” in these two teams is their defense. In the Athletics first 2 games they only made 1 error. The Cardinals, in 3 games had 4 errors but 3 of their 4 errors were in game 1 when they lost to the Tigers. From the aspect of ‘Hustle’, both teams have players who will give their “All”, on any ball put in play, to get a defensive out. I know it is an old cliche, but, “Defense wins championships”.
DID THE BEST TEAM WIN?
On Sunday, October 7th, the Prudential Tigers and Thompson Cardinals were ready to play. The atmosphere at Tobey Park was “all business”. As hard as players tried to stay “loosey-goosey”, anything that made them smile or laugh was quickly wiped off to avoid any distraction to each teams serious intentions. Each team knew they had to find a way to win. Getting ahead on the scoreboard and building a big lead is the only thing that would ease the tension.
So what did the Prudential Tigers do? In the top of the first inning, they were able to score 4 (HUGE) runs. The runs scored were mainly the result of some unusual wildness by Cardinals pitcher, Nick Harris. In Game 2 of the series with the Tigers, Nick had held the Tigers to only 4 runs – Total.
So when Nick Hit Jodie Wolfe to lead off the inning, it helped the Tigers apply early pressure. But Nick rebounded to get Luis Perez to bounce into a fielder choice by forcing Jodie out at 2nd base. Next batter, Jose Ortiz, was greeted by an inside pitch for Nick’s second Hit Batter.
With Jake Hatchett coming up with runners on 1st & 2nd and only 1 out, the Tigers scoring threat were looking good. But, again, Nick Harris worked the count and prevented Jake doing any damage as Jake struck out looking for 2nd out. The next Tiger batter, Joel Fumero, battled every pitch Nick put any where around the plate. Fumero must have fouled off 3 or 4 pitches before he hit a high bouncer up the middle to score Perez.
Tiger Catcher, Barry Cummings, walked. With Fumero and Cummings on base, Juan-Jose Castillo drilled a high fly ball that drifted into the left field corner and bounced off the outfield fence to make the score 4-0. The Cardinals sent 6 batters to the plate in bottom of the 1st only to strand 2 runner on base. Neither team scored in 2nd inning. Castillo struckout the side in bottom of the 2nd after a lead-off walk to Cardinals Chris Pegues. In the 3rd inning Nick Harris gave up a lead-off double to Jake Hatchett and an RBI single to Barry Cummings that made the score 5-0.
The 5-0 score must have woke-up the Cardinals because in the bottom of the 3rd inning the Cardinals sent 8 batters to the plate to make the score 5-5. Hit’s by Patrick Belote, Nick Harris, Judson Belote and Terry Terrell and a rare “Balk” by JJ Castillo made for a productive inning.
Innings 4 thru 7 was highlighted by outstanding pitching by Nick Harris and Juan Castillo. By the time the 8th inning came around it was announced that time limit (2 hr and 50 Minutes) had expired and any new inning (if tied) would invoke the HDL Tie Breaker format. In the top of the 8th inning, Juan Castillo was batting Lead-off. On the 2nd pitch that he swung at, Juan collapsed in front of the plate with an agonizing cramp in his left leg. After a delay of close to 10 minutes, Castillo hobbled back into the “box” to complete his AB. Thinking Castillo was too injured to do any damage, Juan sent a fly ball into left center that fell to the ground when Carlos Canelo was unable to get it in his glove. With Castillo on 2nd base, and no outs, the Tigers could sense a “Rally”. Next batter, Kurt Atkison, grounded out 6-3 but Castillo moved to 3rd base. Juno Palemia then popped out F2. With 2 out, Jodie Wolfe showed why is a “Hall of Famer” as he bounced a chopper that Second baseman, Patrick Belote, misplayed and drove in Castillo for the go ahead run. Jose Ortiz flew out to center to end the rally. Tigers 6 – Cardinals 5.
Kevin High led of the bottom of the 8th with a double to right center. After Cory Morgan K’d, Tigers intentionally walked Chris Pegues to pitch to Terry Terrell. Terrell got a pitch up in the strike zone that landed in right field to allow Kevin High to re-tie the game at 6-6. the next 2 batters struckout to end the rally and send the game to the Tie Breaker format with each team allowed to load the bases with the 3 previous inning batters and start the inning with no outs. in the top of the 9th, Jake Hatchett was the first batter. Jake hit a line drive right at the Cardinals Right Fielder, John Hardin. The ball landed in front of Hardin and bounced past him and roll to the fence. The relay throw was thrown by Patrick Belote who fired to the plate before Jodie Wolfe reached the plate where he was tagged out for the first out of the inning and Hatchett on 2nd base, Joel Fumero K’d. Barry Cummings came up with a solid base hit to score Hatchett to give the Tigers a 3 run lead. Juan Castillo took strike 3 looking to end the inning.
Now it was Cardinals the same opportunity with the bases loaded. The Cardinals first batter was Travis Hill who struck out swinging for the 1st out. Next batter, Patrick Belote hit a ground ball to Jodie at SS who got the Terry Terrell at second but the relay throw to first was a close play that Belote was called “safe” because the catch was juggled. With bases loaded, and the score 9-7, Nick Harris battled Castillo’s pitches before reaching an outside pitch that was dropped down the first base line for a double and tie the score 9-9. With Judson Belote at bat, Judson looped a single into right field to score Nick with the winning run. A walk-off Single ended this “Classic” semi-final game with the score 10-9. Wow – What a Game! The game took 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete. Every inning was filled with outstanding baseball by two teams that did not want to lose. Both teams played the game with all of their energy and passion.
The Prudential Tigers represented their team as winners but came up one run short. Congratulations to the Tigers for a great season. And Congratulations to the Thompson Truck Cardinals for their hard earned victory.
The Cardinals and the V-Brother Athletics will now try to continue the HDLCS games to determine the final winner. Don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to seeing which team comes out on top.
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