Hot bats, cold beers
by Than Acuff
The Wine House Monkeys had one win all season and are firmly planted in the cellar of the comp league standings. That one win, though, came against the Rent-A-Gades and the Monkeys did it again as they notched their second victory of the season, handing the Rent-A-Gades a 17-12 loss Monday night at Gothic Field.
Earlier this year I picked the Rent-A-Gades to repeat as comp league champions and still believe they have a chance, but so does every other team, really.
Pitas has got some serious power, the Talk has got the talent, and is currently undefeated, and the Wine House Monkeys could capture some post-season mojo. But until that final at bat in August, the league title is truly up for grabs.
Monkey player/manager Scott Strouse admitted the first half of the season had been rough for his team, as the roster was constantly in flux with injuries and work conflicts. But with the Fourth of July come and gone, things were looking better.
“The All Star break came at a good time for us,” said Strouse.
Things didn’t look so bright and shiny after the first inning. In fact, it looked like another Monkeys debacle as they were slow to prepare for the game and were short a Monkey when umpire Dave McGuire sounded the call to start the game.
Montana Wiggins is always ready, though, and he led off with a base hit only to stall on the base path, failing to score and leaving the Monkeys scoreless.
Meanwhile, the Rent-A-Gades made quick work in the bottom of the first inning as Nick Catmur capitalized on the Monkeys’ depleted outfield and slapped a solo inside-the-park home run (ITPHR). The Schumachers followed with RBI base hits from both Josh and Andrea for an early 3-0 lead.
Then the Monkeys got the inspiration they were looking for with hot bats and cool running. Three of the first four Monkeys knocked base hits, and Kate Schmidt showed up late from work just in time to step right into the batter’s box and tap a RBI single to shallow right field.
Monkey patience at the plate then led to a couple of walks and additional runs scored, and Brendan Waldran and Trujillo combined to knock in three more runs on back-to-back doubles for an 8-3 Monkey lead. Strouse stepped up to keep the rally chugging with a line drive to center, but Andrea charged on the ball to make a reaching grab and stop the bleeding.
The Rent-A-Gades responded immediately in the bottom of the second inning led by one mighty swing from one mighty man. Three base hits in a row loaded the bases for Jerry Heal and Heal made the most of the situation, jacking a grand slam home run over the right field fence to pull the Rent-A-Gades back to within one run.
The Monkeys’ bats kept on connecting, though, to tack on three more runs. Crystal Staggs and Mikey Strauch opened with a single and a double, and Schmidt struck again, driving both runs in with a triple. Barb Winter pushed Schmidt home with a sac fly RBI as the Monkeys pulled ahead 11-8 heading into the fourth inning.
RBI base hits from Staggs and Trujillo added two more Monkey runs and the team was looking to blow the game wide open until Rent-A-Gades shortstop Jeff Snyder scooped up a ground ball up the middle, tapped second base and fired to first for the 6-3 double play.
The Monkeys defense proved worthy as well, holding the Rent-A-Gades scoreless for the second inning in a row. Mike Neustedter robbed Canada of a base hit with a leaping grab at shortstop and Wiggins got an early jump on a hard hit ball to the gap in left center to make the grab.
Still, after watching the Monkeys play a couple of times now, it felt as if the clock was ticking and a hitting drought was bound to happen. Fortunately for them, they remained consistent through the next couple of innings to add a couple runs here and there. Base hits backed by power proved the right mix as Schmidt and Wiggins singled and then scored on an ITPHR from Neustedter. Trujillo knocked in her third run of the game to then put the Monkeys up 17-7.
The Rent-A-Gades proceeded to start reeling in the Monkeys over the next two innings though, as Catmur cracked a three-RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning and Jeff Banford and Andrea connected for RBI base hits to cut the Monkeys lead down to five runs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
While the Monkeys bats had long cooled off, their defense ultimately made the difference. After turning the first out, the Monkeys gave up an error-assisted base hit only to turn a 6-3 double play on the next hitter and close out their 17-12 win.