Friday, December 13, 2019

Hares hold off determined Dingers

Out of chaos comes… more chaos

by Than Acuff

Weeks ago I covered a disheveled and downward spiraling Dingers team but, if they can just get a break, or two, they could make quite a mess of the Tuesday/Thursday league post-season. Their reckless play and carefree, or “soul free,” attitude could cause several teams fits, and they almost pulled that off in the first round of the playoffs last Thursday against the Hares.

The energy prior to the 6:30 p.m. game was a bit swervy on the Dingers bench, while the Hares were their usual focused and relaxed selves and it was shaping up to be another Dingers debacle. Furthermore, they were missing a player, which is no way to go through the post-season, one player short of a full squad.

Still, they also appeared to have just the right attitude, just the right amount of looseness, to make some magic and they proved that in the opening four innings. It reminded me of… me, when I used to run the pool table at the bar with just the right buzz on.

The Dingers went immediately to work as Jason Chamberlin, Alyssa Munck each singled and Jeff Hern, Jo Ellipsis and Ryan Kay followed with RBI base hits. The Hares knocked off the next two hitters but Halston Gage pushed two more Dingers across home plate for a quick 5-0 lead, leaving a hint of an upset hanging in the air.

A sliding catch by Kay in left field and a 1-6-3 double play by the Dingers helped keep the Hares scoreless through two and the smell of an upset just got stronger.

Then Hern and Chase Sprayberry each crushed solo home runs and Brent “Soul Free” Chambers cracked a RBI double to put the Dingers up 8-0 in the fourth inning and the Dingers were noticeably fired up looking to seize on the mojo to carry them to the finish line.

But… the Hares are the Hares, ever vigilant and rarely shaken, and they started to do what they do best, picking the field apart with base hits and keeping their wits on the base path.

Jackson Sisson and Dave Clement started things off with base hits. Lucas McMullen drove a run in with another single, Nick Rodell connected for a two RBI single and Joseph Draper followed with an error-assisted two RBI triple. Don Bunnell jumped into the Hares scoring frenzy with a sac fly RBI, Brian Brown tapped a RBI single, Paul Greenberg connected for a two RBI double and when Clement returned to the plate to flare a RBI single to right field, the Hares were up 10-8 and the umpires called the 10-run rule, thus ending the inning.

This too reminded me of… me. Because that very same pool shark that would knock off three or four opponents in a row would also knock down three or four more drinks and things would start to fall apart. That got me thinking, were the Dingers about to implode as well? Did I just see the best four innings they had to offer only to watch them disintegrate into a thumping loss?

The short answer: No.

The long answer: The Dingers tied it up in the fifth inning when Hern cracked another solo shot and Ashley “Smashley” Dennis singled and scored off a base hit from Chambers.

Frank Pavkov put the Hares back on top but Sprayberry, who was about as automatic at the plate as anyone that night, joined the long ball game with a solo home run and Dennis put the Dingers back on top with a single.

But the Hares came right back to score three more runs as Brown knocked a two RBI triple, with a slight error-assist, and Sisson tapped a sac hit RBI for a 14-12 Hares lead heading into the top of the seventh inning.

Or so I thought…

I did well in math, scored a 690 on the SATs in fact, and my math told me that the Hares were up 14-12. The Dingers scored one run in the top of the seventh but Mr. Automatic Sprayberry was a little too automatic. He stepped to the plate with two outs and runners on and crushed another home run. Problem was, the Dingers had reached their four home run limit and, according the local rules, any home run after the four Dinger limit is an out. Sooo, Sprayberry actually ended the game with a home run, and not in a good way.

But, it turns out, my math was wrong because rather than the Dingers losing 14-13, the game was tied 14-14 and the Hares were up in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Was it possible? Could the Dingers make use of the scoring mistake and pull off an upset?

The short answer: No.

The long answer: Pavkov knocked the game-winning RBI base hit for the 15-14 Hares win.

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