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Game 12: Mother Nature’s Mayhem
Windy weather conditions levels the playing field as HB’s tackle top ranked Merlot
July 14, 2007

Score Box
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7   R H BB
The HardBallers
3 3 0 0 2 X X   8 14 0
2 2 6 2 0 X X   12 X 5

Overhead shot of the infield as Austin and Jason stand on second and first. (Wolan)

As the summer softball season winds to a close, the HBs look to wrap things up with a season-ending double header. The 4-6 HardBallers have been struggling as of late, winners of just one game over their past four. And with the playoffs looming, the team will need a strong showing to earn a seat in the post-season. Fortunately, the team’s post-season fate is in their hands. Here is how the playoff picture looks:

  • A sweep of the double header will all but guarantee the team a postseason berth.
  • A split will give the team a strong chance of earning a spot in the playoffs.
  • A double defeat will not eliminate the team from the playoff picture, but will decrease their chance substantially.

    Speaking of chance, the HBs’ first opponent this afternoon is the league’s number one team, team Merlot. The M’s are undefeated this season, and come to this afternoon’s match-up with an 8-0 record. Undoubted they are the favorite, at least until Mother Nature had her say.

    Once again, the weather would play a factor in this afternoon’s match-up. At game time, a cold-front was moving through the area, bring passing showers before game time and mild winds during the game. The winds would make pitching conditions difficult, while giving fielders difficulty catching fly balls. And if that wasn’t enough excitement, a series of dark ominous-looking clouds are moving into the area from the northwest.

    Game Summary

    The HardBallers got to bat first in this match-up and wasted little time. Top of one, John and Austin led things off with back to back base hits to put runners on the corners. Kevin would follow suit with a shot into left field for an easy extra base hit. John undoubtedly scored from third while Austin, well, he made things interesting.

    While rounding second base, Austin failed to touch the bag. As a result, he had to stop dead in his tracks and backtrack towards second. With time to spare, Austin proceeds to third, where he then trips and falls onto the ground between the two bases. However, he is able to recover and get up quickly to not only advance to third base, but to round the base and score. Kevin, who was trailing right behind Austin through all of this commotion, had to setting for a 2-RBI triple. “That should have been a home run” commented a frustrated Kevin. He would then score on an RBI double by Pierre.

    Bottom half of the inning, A-WOL, the team’s starting pitcher, gets the nod to take the mound. Andy seemed to have the windy weather conditions under control as he got the first two batters to retire quickly. However, he somehow lost his touch, giving-up walk and then a HR to let Merlot come within one. After one, it was a 3-2 game.

    The Merlot infielders get ready for the next play. (Wolan)
    Second inning, A-WOL starts things off with a base hit through the infield. Crystal follows suit with a bloop hit into shallow right. John would cash them in with a 2-RBI ground-rule triple. Austin would wrap-up the HBs’ scoring by batting in John to give the team a 6-2 lead.

    Bottom of two, the M’s get two runs right back with another walk and HR pair to make it a 6-4 ballgame. A-WOL made the pitching interesting with a few nasty sliders that would curve in at the last moment. “It reminded me of nasty stuff Derik Lowe’s pitched in the final inning of the ALDS against Oakland in 2003” commented A-WOL.

    Third inning, well, it was all Merlot. Top of third, the M’s left fielder flashes a little leather by making an incredible diving grab to rob Jonathan of an extra base hit. The HBs were unable to do anything with their frame and go down quickly.

    Bottom of the inning, Mother Nature decides to join the fun and begins showering the field with rain. A-WOL, who had trouble gripping a wet softball in the rain, asked for a rain delay but was denied. The M’s took advantage and managed to score 6 runs to take a 10-6 lead. However, it could have been worse had it not been for an incredible play in left field by John. With the two outs and the bases loaded, the batter hits a deep fly ball to left field. John gives chase and manages to make an overhead catch to end the inning. “The ball was really knuckling out there” comments John after making the catch.

    A scary moment also occurred in the third inning. While attempting to make a play at home plate, Austin slipped on a bat left in the batter’s box and fell on the ground. He was able to recover and stop the ball from getting because the plate, but was in no shape of converting it into a close play at home. While Austin was unhurt on the play, he did report feeling tightness in this quad the next morning.

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