In the spring season opener, Re-Entry continued its regular season dominance with a 20--3 thrashing of the Manatees. The offense was operating on all cylinders, as it scored in all six innings. Home runs accounted for eleven of the twenty Re-Entry runs, and featured two home runs each from Omar and David. Omar's three run shot followed by David's solo blast in the first inning gave Re-Entry an early lead of 4--0, a lead that was never relinquished. Yahoo's line drive over the left fielder's head resulted in another home run in the third inning, and by the time David contributed a three-run home run later in the inning, Re-Entry had a commanding 11--0 lead. Not to be outdone by David, Omar added a two-run blast in the 5th inning for his second home run of the day, and Andy's solo blast in the 6th inning completed the six home run onslaught.
Still, Re-Entry pushed an additional nine runs across the plate, thanks to solid hitting up and down the lineup. Clara's triple put her one home run short of the cycle, and Laurie claimed honors for the shortest hit of the year (the ball traveled all of six inches) to add to her otherwise solid hitting performance. Howie contributed a double and two singles in three at bats, with hits to center, left and right field that kept the Manatees guessing.
On the defensive side, the Re-Entry play was almost error free. In the first inning, our left-center fielder Andy came close to snagging a sinking line drive. The Manatee runner at second base first froze, and then tried to advance to third on the single. An excellent throw from Andy to Omar at third was close, but when the runner slid slightly past third, Omar applied the tag for the second out of the inning. This play earned the web gem designation for the game. (If colorful base-running plays were also permitted, then we would give a second web gem to David's unconventional slide as he opportunistically advanced to second base following a single.) Due to the solid Re-Entry defensive play, the Manatees were held scoreless until they finally strung a few hits together to break the scoreless streak in the fifth inning. They added one more run in the 7th due to some aggressive base running coupled with an errant throw from the outfield that wildly missed the cutoff. But other than a few minor miscues, Re-Entry demonstrated their defensive prowess, which bodes well for the future.
In other games around the league (Division VII), Barry Zito MVP pulled
off a walk-off win over Sigma Poop with a come-from-behind three-run
7th inning to claim a 14--13 victory. In the other game, the Big
Bangers also staged a three run 7th inning rally to tie the Scrubs.
Then in the 8th inning,
after an ill-advised base-running error by a Scrubs runner
(who left second base too early on a line drive out to center field,
resulting in a double play), the Big Bangers justified their team name
with a walk-off home run over the left fielder's head by their first
batter to seize the extra-inning victory by the same score of 14--13.
|Barry Zito MVP||3||0||0||5||0||0||0||8|
After two quick outs in the top of the first inning, Re-Entry looked like it was off to a slow start. But, successive singles by Laurie and Omar kept the inning alive. David then hit a line drive down the right field line past the right fielder for a three-run home run, and suddenly Re-Entry had a three run lead. That lead did not last long, when Barry Zito MVP scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game at 3 all. That rally was aided by a missed call by the umpire. With a runner on first base, a line drive single to short center field was deftly fielded by David who was coming in hard. In one motion, he shoveled the ball (without removing it from his glove) to Howie at 2nd base for the force out---thereby earning him a web gem. Unfortunately, the umpire was not in a good position to see the play, and the runner at second was ruled safe.
Shaking off the bad call, the Re-Entry bats unloaded in the second inning. The big blows were a two-run triple by Eddie and a 2 run home run by Yahoo to deep left field. When the dust settled, Re-Entry had plated nine runs to take a 12--3 lead. The Re-Entry defense held firm, making all the plays over the next two innings, while the offense continued in high gear. Andy's 3 run home run in the third inning was the major blow, and by the end of the fourth inning, Re-Entry held a commanding 22-3 lead. Since we need to designate a web gem that made an actual out, I will self-servingly nominate Howie's play at shortstop, where he went deep in the hole between short and third to field a ground ball and then with an accurate strike to first base ended the third inning.
The bottom of the 5th inning marked the only other rally that Barry Zito MVP could muster. In that inning, there were two close plays at the plate, but a slightly off line throw in one case and a slight mishandling of the ball by the catcher (who tried to apply the tag before having complete control of the ball) resulted in two of the five runs that scored that inning. However, that was the last offensive threat by our opponents, as the Re-Entry defense shut the door for the remaining three innings of the game.
Turner added a massive shot way over the left fielder's head for a solo home run in the 5th inning, and Re-Entry completed its impressive offensive display with four runs in the 6th and 7th innings to complete the scoring. Re-Entry had a full lineup of 7 women and 8 men, with everyone hitting up and down the batting order. Jessica brought along her personal fan base (her mom and dad up for the weekend), and made them proud with numerous base hits and skilful play at second base. Two additional attempts at claiming this week's web gem fell just short. Laurie, playing third base in the later innings, almost tracked down a difficult fly ball in foul territory behind third base. In the final inning, David almost pulled off the highly difficult 8--3, as the runner barely beat the throw from center field to first base.
In other games around the league (Division VII), the Scrubs came from
behind after trailing by two runs entering the top of the 7th inning.
A five run rally sealed the deal resulting in a 7-4 win over Sigma Poop.
Meanwhile, the Big Bangers pulled off their second straight
extra-inning walk-off win with a dramatic 16--15 victory over the Manatees.
After two high scoring victories, Re-Entry looked like it was in for a long afternoon. Sigma Poop jumped out quickly to a 4--0 lead in the top of the first inning, with help from their team speed. Both the first two batters hit singles and then took an extra base when the outfielders hesitated ever so slightly to get the ball back to the infield. Later in the inning, a slight bobble by Howie at shortstop on a double play ball turned into zero outs when both the runner from first base and the batter beat out the successive plays at second and first base. An errant throw to home from the outfield resulted in those two runs scoring, and by the time the dust settled, four runs were in. Meanwhile, Re-Entry hitting was cold. With an exception of a triple by Omar in the first inning (he scored when the throw to third based bounced off him and went out of play), Re-Entry threats were few and far between in the first three innings. The Sigma Poop fielders also displayed impressive speed on defense, with their shortstop, left-center and right-center fielders covering an impressive area of the field to track down pop ups and line drives.
However, the Re-Entry defense responded with three shut down innings, including two web gems by Clara---tracking down a pop fly in short right-center field to end the 2nd inning, and an impressive snag of a hot ground ball up the middle (followed by a sweet one-hop pick-up by Rob at first base to complete the play). An inning ending double play on a line drive to third base followed by a strike to first base to cut down the runner who had wandered off the bag ended the top of the 4th inning.
Entering the bottom of the 4th inning, Re-Entry still trailed 4--2. The Re-Entry bats didn't exactly come alive, but with a couple of defensive miscues (one of the few) by the Sigma Poop defense, Re-Entry was able to string a few hits together and push four runs across the plate to take a 6--4 lead. That lead did not last long, as Sigma Poop responded with two runs in the top of the 5th to tie the score at 6 all. In the bottom of the 5th inning, Turner sent a screaming deep line drive to left field, splitting the left and left-center fielders for an easy solo home run and a 7--6 lead. Re-Entry was able to add two key insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, Clara singled and Howie hit a line drive to right-center field. Initially, it looked like the fielders had no chance to make the play, but the center and right fielders (once again exhibiting their impressive speed) converged on the ball, with the center fielder diving to try to make the play. But, the fielders could not quite reach the ball and instead collided with each other, with the ball squirting past them. By the time the ball was retrieved and thrown back into the infield, Clara had scored and Howie was at third base with a stand-up triple. Howie subsequently scored on a ground ball out, giving Re-Entry a 9--6 lead with one more inning to play.
The stage was then set for the dramatic conclusion. Sigma Poop strung together a few hits, and suddenly it was a 9--7 game with runners on first and third and two outs. With one of the better Sigma Poop batters coming to the plate, Howie called out to Eddie at first base to remind him that the runner on first was the potential tying run, and Eddie should cover the plate on an outfield hit to try to prevent the tying run from scoring. Sure enough, the next batter sent a well-hit line drive to left-center field, and the runner from first base took off. Holly in left field carefully fielded the ball and Howie came out to short left field to take the relay throw. Meanwhile, the potential tying run and rounded third base and decided to take the chance of tying up the game. But, a perfect throw from Howie in short left field to Eddie at the plate (along with a slight hesitation from the runner who thought he might be hit by the incoming ball) cut down the potential tying run and ended the game in thrilling fashion. That play earns the web gem of the current spring season!
The team heaved a collective sigh of relief. The undefeated season had been preserved, despite missing a significant part of the women's lineup and a power outage from the Re-Entry big bats.
In other games around the league (Division VII), the Scrubs continued
their winning ways with a convincing 13--6 victory over the Manatees,
while the Big Bangers maintained their perfect record with a forfeit
win over Barry Zito MVP.
Two streaks were on the line as Re-Entry met the Big Bangers for the seventh time on the West Field diamonds since the rivalry with the Astronomy Department's team was initiated in the fall 2007 season. Re-Entry had won all six games in this storied rivalry including a 10--6 victory in the Fall of 2010 when the teams last met. That particular victory started a remarkable winning streak, which (including a forfeit in the last game of the Spring 2010 season) stood at 29 consecutive regualar season victories.
After today's contest, the streaks have been extended to seven wins over the Big Bangers and 30 consecutive regular season victories. But, after the first inning, it seemed that both streaks were headed for the dustbin. After pushing two runs across thanks to a two-run double by Howie in the first inning, the Big Bangers struck for six runs in the bottom of the first inning, aided by two miscues in the outfield and a couple of infield base hits. Eddie led off the top of the second with a solo home run, and later that inning, Holly delivered a line drive shot down the left field line that was fair by inches, driving in two runs in the process while ending up at third base with a triple. But Re-Entry could not get closer and still trailed 7--6 after the top of the third inning. After the Big Bangers put runners on second and third with two outs, one of the key plays of the game took place. The next hitter slapped a ball into short center field scoring one run. Andy fielded the ball crisply, thought about trying to make the out at first base (it would have been close), but instead threw a prefect strike on the fly to Alexa at home plate who tagged out the trailing runner, thereby ending the third inning and earning a web gem. The Big Bangers still led 8--6, but the momentum of the game had clearly changed.
In the top of the 4th inning, Re-Entry scored three more runs (with a triple by Howie driving in two runs and Howie subsequently scoring on a groundout to the second baseman) to take a 9--8 lead. In the bottom of the 4th inning, the Re-Entry defense stepped it up. The first batter hit a hot ground ball into the hole between short and third. Howie made a deft backhand pickup and gunned down the runner for the first out of the inning. The next batter grounded the ball slowly to the second baseman who threw to first just beating the runner. But the umpire called the runner safe (replays showed that this was clearly a missed call). Never mind that. Raja was the next hitter and he sent a well struck ground ball up the middle to the shortstop side of second base. But Howie was ready, and with a nifty snag of the grounder, he stepped on second and threw to first for the inning ending double play for the second web gem of the game (and effectively erasing the umpire's missed call).
In the top of the fifth inning, Re-Entry put the game away. Despite missing our three top sluggers, the Re-Entry power bats came alive. Successive three-run home runs, first by Rob (on a perfectly placed deep line drive that split the center and right fielders) and later in the inning by Omar (a towering shot way over the center fielder's head) accounted for all six runs of the inning and Re-Entry took a commanding 15--8 lead. Another shutdown inning by the Re-Entry defense followed, and in the top of the sixth inning, successive two-run home runs, the first a line drive shot by Howie down the right field, and the second a line drive by Eddie that skipped past the center fielder, put the game out of reach. The home run by Howie ended his most productive day at the plate this season, which together with his double in the first inning, single in the third inning and triple in the fourth inning complete the cycle. By the end of the top of the sixth, Re-Entry held a 20--8 lead. What started out as a Big Banger romp ended up as a decisive 22--9 victory for Re-Entry. Overcoming the largest deficit of the season while missing our three biggest sluggers was definitely a character building win for the team and hopefully bodes well for a deep run in the playoffs.
But, we shouldn't look too far ahead. In other action around the
league, the Scrubs posted a 11--5 victory to set up the critical matchup for
final game of the season, when Re-Entry and the Scrubs will fight it out
for first place and a trip to the playoffs. The Big Bangers are still
in the mix, as it is possible that there will be three teams with the
same won--loss record (at four wins and one loss). But, this will all be
moot if Re-Entry can close out yet another undefeated regular season.
Meanwhile, Sigma Poop forfeited their game against the Manatees to
claim sole possession of last place.
The final game of the regular season was against the Scrubs, with first place in Division VII on the line. Once again, Re-Entry had a depleted lineup, missing key players from both the men's and women's lineups. The Scrubs jumped out to a three run lead in the top of the first inning, and with one out with runners on first and second base, they were threatening to score more runs. The next Scrubs batter hit a fly ball to Andy in left center field. After Andy caught the ball, the runner on second took off (after tagging up) to try to take the extra base. But a perfect strike from Andy to Turner at third base gunned down the Scrubs runner, thereby completing the inning ending double play. With that web gem, the Scrubs rally was snuffed out.
In the bottom of the first inning, Re-Entry batters took a workmanlike approach, spraying line drive singles to all parts of the diamond. Without a major extra base hit, Re-Entry batted around and by the time the third out was made, nine runs had crossed the plate. After holding The Scrubs scoreless in the top of the second, the Re-Entry batting assault continued, although not until there were two outs. Once again, a steady diet of line drive singles produced additional runs until Turner's two run home run finally broke the singles streak. Holly was notably consistent, with numerous line drive singles over the head of the third baseman to keep the Re-Entry rallies going. At the end of two innings, Re-Entry held a commanding 16--3 lead, and indeed had scored enough runs to earn the eventual victory.
But, Re-Entry still had to hold off a persistent Scrubs offense. After scoring another run and threatening to score more with runners on the corners, the Scrubs batter hit a fly ball to medium right center field. The fly ball found Andy yet again, and he threw accurately to Howie at the cutoff position, who then turned and fired home (on the fly) to cut down the Scrubs runner trying to score from third. Alexa skillfully applied the tag (for the second time in the last two games) to complete another inning ending double play--a second web gem for the highlight reel. That makes two oufield assists for Andy in today's game and three consecutive games with tag plays by Re-Entry at home to end an inning.
The Scrubs kept pecking away and closed the gap to 16--7 at the end of the top of the fourth inning. Re-Entry responded in the bottom of the 4th inning with Turner's second two-run home run of the game, and the lead was back to double digits. With Rob's early departure, Re-Entry was now playing with four men and five women in the field. Nevertheless, the Re-Entry defense remained strong, holding the Scrubs scoreless in the top of the 5th inning. In the bottom half of the fifth inning, Andy opened the frame with a long solo home run. Two batters later, Andy was back on the mound and Eddie was the batter, trying to extend a perfect day at the plate. But a wicked line drive hit Andy flush on the left side of his chest, and Andy went down. Members from both teams and the umpires quickly attended to Andy at the mound, worried about a potentially serious injury. After a few minutes, Andy stood up and walked off the mound to the cheers of the crowd. After the game, the Re-Entry management would only reveal that Andy suffered an "upper body injury", and we will have to wait to see whether the time off in the schedule before playoffs begin is sufficient to heal the injury.
Andy withdrew from the lineup (as it was too painful to swing the bat), although he volunteered to play catcher (thinking that the injury is only a bad bruise). Meanwhile, in the top of the sixth inning, Howie opened the scoring with a solo home run to deep right field (and was one double shy of a second consecutive cycle going 4 for 5), and Eddie attempting to one-up his advisor cracked a two run home run to complete an outstanding 5 for 6 day at the plate. Leading by 14 runs going into the 7th inning, the Scrubs to their credit kept up the pressure aided by a few Re-Entry miscues in the field and a couple of seeing-eye infield base hits. Andy (shaking off his injury) valiantly made a critical play fielding a dribbler in front of the plate and with a perfect throw to first base recorded the second out of the inning. Meanwhile, the Scrubs did not quit and closed the gap to seven runs, but they could get no closer. A fly ball to Eddie in left center field for the third out clinched first place for Re-Entry in Division VII and a sixth straight undefeated regular season.
In other action around the league, the Big Bangers were victors by
forfeit over Sigma Poop, thereby clinching second place and a wild
card berth in the playoffs. Finally, the Manatees were victorious
with a 13--12 squeaker over Barry Zito MVP.
When the Doobie Astrays failed to show up for the game, Re-Entry was
declared the winner by forfeit. Thus, Re-Entry moves on to the second
round of the playoffs (The Elite Eight).
The quarter-finals was a rematch from the Fall 2012 semi-finals, as Re-Entry once again took on the Ball Smackers. The Re-Entry batters were a little too eager in the top of the first inning, drawing a blank. The Ball Smackers then struck first in the bottom of the first inning, scoring two quick runs and threatening more. With two outs, the Ball Smacker batter hit a line drive in the gap between left and left-center. Andy retrieved the ball and threw to Howie at the cutoff. But, the ball took a strange hop on its way in and skipped by Howie. Meanwhile, the Ball Smacker batter was approaching third base and seeing that the ball had gotten by Howie decided aggressively to attempt to score. But, our third baseman Turner was alertly backing Howie up, and he gathered up the ball and threw a strike to Alexa, just in time to tag the runner out to end the inning. The runner crashed into Alexa on the play, but Alexa held her ground (and did not drop the ball). This stellar play by Alexa earns her the defensive web gem of the game. More importantly, it saved a run and ended the inning before further damage could be done. Re-Entry responded with solid hitting in the second and third innings, with all the women on the team creating major offensive opportunities by numerous line-drive hits to the outfield. A home run by Turner that skipped by the left fielder was the major blow, and Re-Entry enjoyed the early 10--2 lead.
But, the Ball Smackers were not ready to go home. Aided by a couple of minor Re-Entry defensive miscues (to prolong the third inning) along with three massive home runs by their power hitters, the Ball Smackers plated five and the score stood at 10--7. Re-Entry was unable to maintain the offensive onslaught of the second and third innings, but thanks to Turner's second home run (a line drive shot that found a gap in right-center field), Re-Entry extended its lead to 14--7 after five innings. Meanwhile, the Re-Entry defense held strong, retiring all three Ball Smackers batters in the fifth inning. Still, there was some unease, knowing that the big Ball Smackers sluggers were due up in the sixth inning. Unfortunately, the Re-Entry hitting lull continued in the sixth inning, with the exception of an amazing line-drive shot by Carena that sailed over the left-center fielder's head, startling the Ball Smackers defense. Carena then demonstrated her speed on the base paths, easily beating the throw home to complete her electrifying home run.
But, the 15--7 lead was still not safe. The Ball Smackers came to life again, with some small ball from its women batters and some big extra base hits from their sluggers. They continued their aggressive base running, turning singles into doubles (and in one case a triple!). When one of the Ball Smackers runners attempted to take an extra base to score, this time they succeeded when Howie's throw to Alexa was slightly off-line (despite a remarkable catch by Alexa and a swipe tag that almost saved the run). Outs were now at a premium, and the critical second out was the result of a spectacular play following a soft ground ball to the right side of the field. Rob, came in from first base to field the ball and threw slightly off-line to Clara who have moved over from her second baseman's position to cover first base. Thanks to Clara's long reach, she managed to extend her glove out to catch the throw (Marco Scutaro style) while keeping her foot on the base. That play earns her the second defensive web gem of the game. By the time the third out was recorded, the Ball Smackers had pulled to within three runs.
Nursing a 15--12 lead, insurance runs were desperately needed in the top of the seventh inning. But after the first two Re-Entry batters made outs, and Alexa grounded to the shortstop, it looked like a three-up and three-down inning. But Alexa's ground ball was slowly hit, and the shortstop had to hurry the throw. The throw (which barely beat Alexa to the first base bag) drew the first baseman off the bag ever so slightly and Alexa was ruled safe. The inning continued, and Re-Entry took full advantage. Despite the fact that the Ball Smacker's best outfielder had been moved to left field, Yahoo challenged him with a drive to deep left field that even this skilled outfielder could not reach. That home run provided a critical cushion, but Re-Entry wanted more. What followed was a barrage of hits of all kinds (with Turner just missing a third home run---he had to settle for a triple). By the time the dust settled, Re-Entry had scored eight runs to extend their lead to 23--12. That impressive (and timely) final offensive outburst was enough to break the spirits of the Ball Smackers, as they went down quietly in the bottom of the seventh inning with three quick outs.
Thus, Re-Entry advances to the semi-finals, to face their long time
rivals, the Big Bangers, who advanced to the final four
on the strength of an unexpected 9--7 victory over their higher rated opponents.
Recalling the Big Banger's six run first inning in our regular season matchup earlier this year, Re-Entry was determined to tighten up the defense. After three up and three down in the top of the Big Banger first inning, Re-Entry was ready to unleash an offensive barrage at a level unparalleled in the spring 2013 season. The Re-Entry bats were on fire from the start, with solid line drive hits from both the men's and woman's batting order. Before the first Re-Entry out was recorded, eight runs had crossed the plate, capped off by Andy's two run home run. Re-Entry had batted around by the time Yahoo stepped to the plate for the second time with runners at second and third with one out. Needing only a single to reach the ten run limit, Yahoo took an easy swing. The ball jumped off the bat following a towering arc way beyond the the left fielder for the first three run home run in which only two RBIs were recorded. The ten run rule was then invoked, ending the inning with a 10--0 Re-Entry lead.
But, the Re-Entry offense was nowhere near done. After retiring the Big Bangers quickly in the second inning allowing only one base runner (thanks to some deft catches in right field by Carena and in left field by Pauline---the latter to the great surprise of the biggest banger on the Big Bangers who thought he had an extra base hit over the left fielder's head), Re-Entry's offensive onslaught picked up where it left off. In the bottom of the second, Eddie's three run home run---a line drive shot to deep left-center field that spit the Big Bangers outfielders---was the big blow. But I would be remiss not to mention a number of important line drive singles to right field by Alexa (to keep the first and second inning rallies going), who had her best offensive day at the plate since joining the Re-entry squad. By the time, Yahoo stepped up to the plate, seven more runs had plated, and this time (with two runners on), Yahoo had his chance for a real three-run home run. Sadly, he could only manage a single, driving in one run, and it was up to Carena to drive in the last two runs to reach ten runs for the second straight inning. Carena obliged with a line drive shot between the right and right-center fielders, and once again the ten run rule was invoked.
With five innings to go, the outcome of the game was a foregone conclusion (although some might have already inferred this at the end of the first inning). Eddie added a two-run home run to deep left field in the bottom of the third inning and Andy contributed a solo home run in the fourth inning. Meanwhile, the Re-Entry defense was perfect and continued to hold the Big Bangers scoreless. Indeed, the top of the fifth inning ended with a sweet double play on a low line drive to the third baseman which Yahoo fielded cleanly on the short hop. A toss to Clara at second base recorded one out, and then Clara's throw to Eddie at first base completed the inning ending double play. That play earned the first defensive web gem of the game. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Carena replicated her quarter-final batting heroics with a two-run blast over the head of a shocked Big Banger's outfielder (Raja) in center field, and Andy added a solo home run to the gap between the left and left-center fielders for his third home run of the day. By the end of the fifth inning, the score stood at 30--0.
The Big Bangers finally broke their scoreless streak in the top of the sixth inning, with a little help from a few minor Re-Entry defensive miscues. But, Tim who was playing his final game in a Re-Entry uniform, made sure that he would make the highlight reel with an acrobatic diving catch of a sinking line drive to right-center field to end the inning. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Re-Entry made two quick outs, starting with a weakly hit ball by Yahoo, who was batting lefty in attempt to achieve the "best left-handed at bat of the season." A second out ensued and it looked like the Re-Entry scoring spree would end here. Turner now had his chance to shine batting from the left side. I suppose that we must award Turner with the "best left-handed at bat of the season," as his mighty swing produces a dribbler that made it all of five feet in front of home plate. That was enough to keep the inning alive, and a second single brought Eddie to the plate. Eddie came up to bat with the singular goal of not letting Andy retain the boasting rights for the best offensive line of the game. Eddie delivered, with a three run blast to the gap between the left and left-center fielders (are you spotting the pattern here?) for his third home run of the day.
The top of the seventh inning was the final chance for the Big
Bangers. Again, a defensive miscue prolonged the inning, but
Holly came up with the final defensive web gem of the game with
a shoestring catch on a flair to left field. Her subsequent
throw to Howie at cutoff who then threw just slightly offline
to Turner at third base nearly gunned down the advancing Big Banger
runner attempting to advance to third base
on the fly ball out. But, despite the
missed double play opportunity, the final out was quickly recorded,
and the 34--4 Re-Entry victory was now in the books. That was the most
lopsided win in the long standing rivalry between Re-Entry and the Big
Bangers, which dates back to the fall of 2007. Today's victory
brings the overall record in the Big Bangers series
to 8 wins and no losses, as the Re-Entry
dominance over the Big Bangers shows no sign of abating.
In stark contrast to the semi-finals, this game started off slowly. After two quick outs in the top of the first inning, Eddie sent a flair to right-center field which skipped by the two outfielders, which he then turned into a triple. An errant throw to third base allowed Eddie to score the first Re-Entry run. In the bottom of the first inning, with a runner on first base, the Moose Knuckler batter sent a ground ball up the middle. Howie dived for it but failed to reach it, and the Moose Knucklers were suddenly threatening with two runners on and only one out. Unfortunately, on the play Howie tweaked his right hamstring and had to come off the field. That would end his day at shortstop. The next batter sent a low line drive out to left center field. Andy came charging in fast and made a nice catch for the second out. With the Moose Knucklers still threatening, the next batter hit a hot shot to the left of the first baseman. Rob fielded the ball (making a tough play look easy) and beat the runner to first base for the last out of the inning. That was a critical play (which earns the defensive web gem of the game), as it kept the Moose Knucklers off the scoreboard and maintained the Re-Entry 1--0 lead.
In the top of the second inning, the Re-Entry bats started to show signs of life. After two consecutive hits, Andy delivered with a blast to deep left-center field for the three-run home run to extend the Re-Entry lead to 4--0. Shaking off his hamstring injury, Howie followed two batters later with a shot down the left field line, but could only make it to first base (ordinarily this would have been a double) due to his injury. A pinch runner took his place, but Re-Entry could not take further advantage. In the bottom of the second inning, a defensive miscue eventually led to the first Moose Knuckler run, but Re-Entry held firm. A foul tip by one of the Moose Knucklers was snagged by Alexa at catcher, and the foul was deemed high enough to be ruled an out. Thus, at the end of two innings, the score stood at 4--1 in favor of Re-Entry.
The top of the third inning proved to be the decisive point of the game. Re-Entry loaded the bases, and then two singles later Re-Entry had two runs in and the bases still jammed. Up stepped Omar to the plate, and he delivered big time with a grand slam home run to the deepest part of the yard. Suddenly, the Re-Entry lead stood at 10--1. Perhaps at this point, it is worth relating how Omar came to be at this game in the first place (which nobody expected at the beginning of the day). Apparently, Omar's day started at 4 am Eastern Daylight Time in Newport News, VA after spending some time at Jefferson Laboratory. Omar caught an early morning flight from Norfolk, VA, which went to National Airport in Washington, DC. From there he took a second flight to San Diego, where he caught his third flight of the day to Sacramento. Omar's wife picked him up from the airport (she lives in Davis, CA), and together they drove to Santa Cruz, arriving at 4:30 pm, thirty minutes prior to the game. And by the way, after the celebratory pizza party following the game, Omar and his wife are driving down to Los Angeles. Commitment wins championships!
The Moose Knucklers pushed one run across the plate in the bottom of the third inning, but the Re-Entry defense held firm. In the top of the fourth inning, the Re-Entry bats became quiet again until Howie stepped up to the plate (was the hamstring quieting down?). He laced a double into the gap in right-center field, but it was a struggle to make it all the way to second base (surely a triple or more on a healthier day). Once again, Howie gave way to a pinch runner. But the next two Re-Entry batters were unable to drive in the run and the score remained 10--2. In the bottom half of the fourth inning, the Moose Knucklers went down quickly in a three up--three down inning, aided by a sweet play at third base where Turner snagged a hot line drive that looked headed for extra bases.
In the top of the fifth inning, Omar stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded once again. Surely thinking about a second grand slam, Omar took a mighty swing. This time, he managed only a ground ball up the middle (nearly striking Andy at the pitcher's spot), enough to drive in two runs. Re-Entry added two additional runs to extend their lead to 14--2. In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Moose Knucklers began to make some noise, aided by some shaky Re-Entry defense. After three runs had crossed the plate, the Re-Entry defensive prowess was restored, and the final two outs of the inning were quickly recorded. The Re-Entry lead was cut to nine runs, but that was as close as the Moose Knucklers would get.
Knowing the importance of insurance runs, Howie came up to bat with a runner on base in the top of the sixth inning. This time, the umpires allowed a pinch runner from home (saving Howie the trouble of running with his hamstring problem). Andy served as the pinch runner. Howie took full advantage by sending a well struck ball deep to right-center field, which split the two outfielders. With Andy running at full steam, the race was on, and Andy beat the relay throw to the plate to complete Howie's home run. We're not sure how the official scorer is ruling this, but in the Re-Entry record book, this will read as 2 RBIs for Howie and one run scored by Andy. With the lead now at 11 runs, the Re-Entry defense went back to work in the bottom of the sixth inning. A scorching line drive to left-center field was deftly caught by Andy, much to the surprise and chagrin of the Moose Knuckler batter. The second out was courtesy of Yahoo, who chased down a foul ball behind third base for the second out of the inning. After the Moose Knucklers put a runner on first base, the Re-Entry defense provided the ugliest out of the game. A ground ball to the right side of second base was fielded by Clara, but the ball slipped out of her glove. Eddie, who was playing shortstop, was at second base anticipating a throw for the force. Instead, Eddie went after the loose ball, which was behind second base, picked the ball up, juggled it, and then somehow regained control, then dived for the second base bag, and tagged it for the force out just before the runner from first base arrived. An ugly out though is an out, and the sixth inning was done.
In the top of the seventh inning, Re-Entry looked to extend its 16--5 lead. The bases were loaded once more for Omar, giving him another big RBI opportunity. Omar proceeded to hit a towering drive to deep center field. The center fielder was playing very deep so he was able to track down the blast for the second out of the inning. Both Holly at third base and Eddie at second base tagged, and advanced after the catch. Holly scored easily, and Eddie was following close behind and easily beat the relay throw to the plate with the second run of the sacrifice fly play. With this at bat Omar had 8 RBIs, qualifying easily for the offensive player of the game. Adding two additional runs later in the inning, Re-Entry led 20--5 heading into the bottom of the seventh and final inning. All in all, the Re-Entry offense was outstanding, with solid hitting up and down both the men's and women's lineup. After all, you cannot continually load the bases, which was a consistent theme throughout this game, without reliable hitting by your players.
That first out in the bottom of the seventh inning is always the toughest to get, but Laurie made it look easy in deep left field, robbing a potential extra base hit by one of the Moose Knucklers sluggers. The Moose Knucklers managed to put two runners on by the time the final slow ground ball to third base, fielded cleanly by Turner and accurately tossed to Eddie at first base, provided the final out of the game. And with that play, Re-Entry claimed the Championship of the Spring UCSC Softball league, and avenged the disappointing loss to the same team (previously known as Pitches Be Crazy) in the Fall 2012 season in the last Championship game that was played in February. A very satisfying finish to perhaps the most dominant playoff run in Re-Entry team history. Re-Entry completes a perfect season of nine wins and no losses, which establishes a new team record for the most wins in a season.
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the Spring 2013 Re-Entry Coed Softball team web page