Post season opens next week
by Than Acuff
It was a stellar evening at Gothic Field Monday as Pitas in Paradise and the Talk of the Town took the field for a comp league showdown. The grass was cut just perfectly, the infield raked, the sun high in the sky and shining bright, and the energy electric as teams were in the midst of a pennant race.
Well… not really. There are only four comp league teams so everyone makes it into the post-season and these two teams had played each other four times already this season. So it was no surprise that the energy was actually rather subdued, bordering on libraryesque, at the start.
Still, the game was not without its fireworks due in part to some great defense, some impressive power at the plate and some fence-bashing hustle—it just took a while to ramp up.
Pitas player Lauren Stock opened the scoring in the top of the first, driving home a run with a single, but the Talk came out charging in the bottom of the first with the top of their batting order combining for four hits and two walks to drive in four runs.
Molly Keating sparked the outburst with an RBI double to centerfield. Tom Consentino then stepped up and golfed a two-run home run over the centerfield netting. Kelly McGuire and Eric Ervin followed with back-to-back base hits and when Dave McGuire walked, the Talk was on top 4-1 with runners on and only one out. But while the top of the order was crushing it, the bottom of the Talk batting order collapsed, leaving two runners on while the next two hitters both grounded out.
Then Pita power hitter Scott Sanders struck. Sanders is a home run derby champion and is good for at least two dingers a game but he was busy at work and therefore limited to one at-bat in the top of the second. In true Sanders form, though, he made the most of it. Sanders rode up on his bike between innings, stepped right into the batter’s box with one runner on and jacked a two-run shot over right center before jumping back on his bike and racing off to work.
Pitas power came to fruition once again when Drew Stichter crushed a solo shot off of town hall to tie the game 4-4 in the top of the third, but the Talk bats responded in the bottom of the third.
Kelly McGuire led off and looked to start some offense with a hot grounder to third but Pitas third basewoman and MVP of the game Maddie Cruse knocked it down and fired to first for the out.
The next four Talk hitters came through though, as Ervin doubled and Courtney Bock singled. Dave stroked an RBI double down the third base line and daughter Ali McGuire tapped an RBI single to put the Talk on top 6-4. But, once again, just as the Talk was heating up, they immediately cooled off as their next batter grounded out and then suffered an inning-ending automatic out to play a woman short of a full squad.
Pitas proceeded to mix in base hits and smart base running in the top of the fourth to climb back on top. Melissa Mason led off with a single followed by a double from Justin Marting to the gap in right center. Mark Bortolin cracked a two-RBI double and two more Pitas base hits, including an RBI single by Cruse, to give Pitas an 8-6 advantage.
Once again the Talk was primed for a breakout performance with the top of the batting order stepping to the plate, but the Pitas defense shut them down. Robbie Vandervoort led off with a single and was bound to score when Keating crushed a line drive to the gap in right center, but Bortolin chased it down with a diving catch to rob Keating of a base hit and the Talk of a run.
Again, while the energy remained somewhat subdued, the effort was anything but. Consentino tried chasing down a foul ball before sliding into the chain-link fence and breaking a link, leaving him just shy of making a great play.
Bortolin and Cruse connected for base hit RBIs over the next two innings to help build a 10-6 Pitas lead while the Talk continued to leave ducks on the pond until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Talk closed to within one run of Pitas. Vandervoort led off again with a single and Keating pushed him home with a double. Ervin drove an RBI double down the left field line and Bock pushed a Talk run home with another base hit, but that would be as close as the Talk would get.
Pitas sealed the 13-9 win, scoring three insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning and shutting down the Talk offense with another stellar play by Cruse at third and another automatic out.
Comp league playoffs open on Monday, August 3 and, to be honest, the title could really go to anyone at this point.