Monday, November 23, 2015

Four-in-One Extravaganza! 10/11-11/8 vs The Syndicate (twice!), Pitch Please, & Yur’s Bar

The team at County Cork Pub after the championship game - left side: Bryce, Emily H, Triffid; Nicole in the back; right side: Mark, Kristina, Emily K; front & center: my cap
Needless to say, I’ve dropped the ball on the blog at the end of the season. Life really intruded on things in October & early November, & I just never seemed to have the time to do the game write-ups. Since doing the equivalent of a one-page write up on four games combined would make for a very long post, I’m going to hit just the highlights. But I do have a surprise for you at the end I hope you’ll all enjoy!
Lauren at bat vs The Syndicate on 10/11 - exceptional game on defense & 2 base hits
October 11th saw the Underhanded Compliments against The Syndicate. It was the fourth time we’d faced them in two years, & we were hoping to improve on a 0-3 record against this really formidable team. & indeed, after holding them scoreless in the first, we jumped out to a 3-0 on a lead-off single by Lauren, a home run by Zeb, & then a double by Matt who was driven in with two outs on a clutch base hit by Rob. The Syndicate scored twice in the top of the second, but we matched that as Mark led off with a triple, Steven hit a sacrifice fly, & Jessica & Lauren followed with singles. Again with two outs, a clutch hit by Matt scored Jessica. But then the wheels came off the bus—The Syndicate scored 9 in the top of the third, & we never got back in the game, despite a 5-run bottom of the 7th to make the final score 18-12. In truth, it really wasn’t that close. But there were some noteworthy performances even in the defeat: Lauren played a remarkable game in left field; Zeb went 3 for 4 with 2 home runs, & Matt was 4 for 4 with a single, 2 doubles, & a triple.
Zeb on 10/11 vs The Syndicate: 3 for 4 with 2 home runs!
Matt on 10/11 vs The Syndicate: 4 for 4 day!

One week later the playoffs began, & we drew Pitch Please, an indy team that had some familiar faces & that I knew could present a formidable offense. & in fact Pitch Please jumped out to a 3-0 lead, while we were held scoreless in the first two innings. But in the third we took a four run lead on a walk by Cameron, a single by Kristina, an rbi double by Matt, & then a huge 3-run homer by Emily K. Pitch Please scored 2 in the top of the 4th to retake the lead, but the bottom half was our inning! Our first four batters reached base: Rob doubled, Triffid doubled him home, yours truly walked, Mark had an rbi double, Nicole an rbi ground out, Cameron walked, Kristina had an rbi ground ball, Zeb had a 2-run single, & Matt a 2-run homer. The game stayed close though, as Pitch Please scored 4 in the 5th, & we answered with only one—a solo homer by Bryce. Pitch Please came back with 2 in the top of the 6th to make the score 12-11 us, but we had a big inning coming up: Nicole & Cameron singled, Zeb hit an rbi double, Matt drove in 2 more with another double, & then Bryce finished the scoring with a 2-run homer! We held Pitch Please scoreless in the 7th, & we were on to the next round—in a game against The Syndicate that started immediately afterwards!
Rob had himself quite a day on 10/18! 6 for 8 on the day, including a 2-run homer vs The Syndicate & also a clutch lead off base hit in the 8th inning of that game
Cameron scored 3 runs on 2 walks & a base hit vs. Pitch Please, then hit a home run & a big extra inning sacrifice fly vs The Syndicate!
Things didn’t look good for the Underhanded Compliments in the opening innings! The Syndicate held us scoreless & put up 5 runs in the 1st. We did score 2 in the 2nd on a double by Bryce & a homer by Rob, & then add a single run in the 3rd on a solo homer by Cameron, but The Syndicate added 4 runs in the bottom of the 3rd to take a 9-3 lead. Once again we managed a single run in the 4th on singles by Rob, yours truly, & Mark, but the Syndicate added another run in the 5th to go up 10-4.
Matt was 3 for 5 in our big game against The Syndicate (following a 3 for 4 vs Pitch Please)
Still, we had a bit of fight left! Matt led off the bottom of the 6th with a double, then Emily K came through with a big 2-run homer, her second on the day! Bryce also hit a homer, & it was now 10-7 Syndicate—but they added a run in the bottom of the 6th to make it 11-7.
Bryce had 3 home runs on 10/18! 2 vs Pitch Please & 1 big one vs The Syndicate!

Zeb had 3 hits vs The Syndicate on 10/18, & 2 of those were huge: a 2-run homer in the 7th & an rbi triple in the 8th!
So we went into the top of the 7th trailing by four. This is where things got interesting! Mark led off with a single, but then 2 outs were quickly recorded. However, Kristina singled & Zeb smacked a huge 3-run home run. Matt was walked—semi-intentionally it appeared—to bring up Emily K. The strategy didn’t work for The Syndicate as Emily smashed an rbi triple to the left-center field gap to tie the score! We then held The Syndicate scoreless in the bottom of the inning on some great defensive work, including a game-saving catch on a hard line drive to right by Nicole—there were runners on, & that catch prevented a sure walk-off.
Nicole is as tough a competitor as you'll find anywhere! She had a huge base hit in extra innings vs. The Syndicate & made a game-saving catch in the bottom of the 7th!

Emily K was named Player of the Week for her big day on 10/18! 2 for 4 vs. Pitch Please, including a big 3-run homer; 2 for 4 vs The Syndicate including a 2-run homer & the game-tying triple in the 7th inning!
Triffid was named Player of the Game vs The Syndicate, & it was well-deserved! A huge extra inning home run to give us the lead, & her usual solid game on the pitching rubber! With Zeb at third
The Underhanded Compliments finest hour came in the 8th inning. Rob singled & Triffid hit a huge home run to give us a 2-run lead! Yours truly walked, Mark & Nicole singled, & Cameron & Kristina hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to increase the lead to 4. Zeb then smashed an rbi triple to finish the scoring. We held The Syndicate scoreless in the bottom of the 8th, & the game was ours; we'd defeated the mighty Syndicate!
Kristina vs The Syndicate 10/18: 2 hits & a big sacrifice fly in extra innings
Mark had a great game vs The Syndicate: 4 for 4 & rock solid at shortstop!
From there it was on to the championship game against Yur’s Bar. The game was scheduled for 10/25, & despite rain that morning & the day before, we tried to get the game in, but it was called after one inning—the rain was coming down hard & the field was a mess. The game finally was played on 11/8. We got off to a 7-0 lead—4 runs in the first, all with 2 outs, on a homer by Bryce, back-to-back doubles by Emily K & Mark, & rbi singles by yours truly & Triffid; two in the third on a walk to Bryce, a single by Mark, & once again, rbi singles from myself & Triffid. The run in the 4th came on a single by Kristina & an rbi triple from Zeb.
The bench watching Bryce's 6th inning homer vs The Syndicate on 10/18 - such a great group of folks! Nicole, Kristina, Emily K, Matt, Triffid, & Mark!
Yurs did score 3 in the bottom of the 4th, & we just couldn’t add on. Then after a scoreless 5th inning for both teams, we had a real meltdown in the bottom of the 6th, as Yurs scored 8 runs. We put up a good fight in the 7th—Bryce doubled, & Emily K & Mark hit back-to-back singles, the latter scoring Bryce. With one out, Triffid hit a sacrifice fly to make it 11-9, & then Emily H came through with a clutch 2-out rbi base hit to make it 11-10. Unfortunately, we could get no further.
One more shot from County Cork post Championship game: Bryce, Emily H, Triffid (kind of hidden), Nicole, Emily K, Kristina, Mark, yours truly
It was a wonderful year! We finished in third place (of 9 teams) in the spring; went 9-0 to take our second consecutive summer league championship; & then finished second in the 10-team fall league. Most importantly, it was a fun team, & I can’t wait for the 2016 season to begin!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Tale of Two Games, Fall Edition – 9/27 vs. The Pineapples & 10/4 vs

Both Triffid & Zeb played major roles in our win over the Pineapples: Zeb with a 3 for 3 day including a game-tying home run; Triffid with her usual excellent pitching plus a 2-run double

I’m behind on the game recaps, but in fact our last two games present mirror images of each other, as the final September game & the first in October ended with the same final score: 8-5. Unfortunately, we were only on the “eight” side for one of the two.

Our game against the Pineapples took place on a lovely afternoon with a summer feeling. I’d seen part of two Pineapples games, & was aware of two things: their hitters aren’t exceptional, but they play very good defense. The latter in particular was on display that day.

Lauren hit in tough luck against the Pineapples, but did draw a walk & score a run, & played her usual strong defensive game
After holding the Pineapples scoreless in the first, we got the game off to a strong start as Lauren led off with a walk & Zeb followed with a single. With one out (the first of several the Pineapples shortstop recorded on fine plays), Triffid came through with a 2-run double. Unfortunately, we were unable to add on, & again, their shortstop played a role in this, robbing Bryce on a line shot that seemed ticketed for center field.
In a game where every base runner mattered, Nicole worked two walks, & played solidly at second
The Pineapples took the lead in top of the second, as they strung together two triples & a single; & although we were able to load the bases in the bottom of the inning on a single by Kristina & walks to Emily H & Nicole, we weren’t able to score.
Mark went 2 for 3 with a triple & a big rbi single; he also played a good game at shortstop
Once again the Pineapples put together a rally in the third with three singles to increase their lead to 4-2, & we were unable to score in either the third or the fourth innings. We certainly had our chance in the fourth inning, though the inning began inauspiciously. Bryce led off & smoked a line drive that was ticketed for the right field line, but the Pineapples first base man managed to snag it. At the time I was thinking. “This just may not be our day.” But yours truly followed with a walk, & after Kristina reached on a fielder’s choice, Mark smashed an extra base hit. Mark had an easy triple, but unfortunately a good throw from the outfield & a fine relay from the second base man put Kristina out at the plate on a close play.
Rob had a huge rbi double in the fifth inning; Bryce is in the background, patrolling center--despite being robbed twice, Bryce came up big with an rbi double in the sixth; Nicole at second
We could take some consolation in the fact that the Pineapples didn’t score in the fourth or fifth. In the bottom of the fifth with one out, Cameron doubled, then Nicole worked her second walk of the game. Rob followed with an RBI double, & we trailed by only one run, 4-3.
Emily also drew two walks, including a big two-out at bat in the bottom of the sixth that allowed Cameron to come up with the bases juiced
Cameron had two doubles, including the big 2-run double in the bottom of the sixth
The Pineapples were unable to add to their lead in the sixth, & the bottom of the sixth turned out to be our inning. Zeb led off by smashing a home run to tie the game, then Matt doubled. With one out, Bryce doubled to score Matt. After a second out was recorded, Kristina singled & Mark followed with an rbi single. Emily H then reached on a walk, & Cameron came through with his second double of the day to score both Kristina & Mark. We had an 8-4 lead—& while the Pineapples were able to make things interesting in the seventh, they only could add a single run, & we had an 8-5 win.
Nicole, Emily H, & Kristina during one of our at bats early in the game; we only had 10 at the game, so everyone was in the field!
Our game against on 10/4 was the first of two consecutive 10:30 a.m. start times against teams ahead of us in the standings. Both Underhanded Compliments & came into the game with only one loss, but had given up fewer runs. We were about to find out why they’d been so stingy with runs.

Triffid pitched a strong game as always, & scored a run after notching a base hit in the fourth
Kristina had an rbi single! scored two runs in the top of the first, & despite a single by Lauren & a double by Emily K in the bottom of the inning, we were unable to score. Our opponents added a third run in the second, & we were only able to record one single in the second, a base hit by yours truly. Emily H & Kristina were both robbed of hits by fine defensive plays by their shortstop & left fielder respectively, & that was the inning.
Big game for Lauren! 3 for 4 & an incredible performance in left field, denying of one hit after another
We were able to hold scoreless in the top of the third, & I want to underline that our fielding was more than solid throughout the game. In addition, it has to be noted that Lauren played an incredible game in left field. She was tested constantly, yet whether the dickbat players hit long fly balls, shots toward the gap, or bloops just past the infield, she proved equal to the test. In my mind, Lauren was without question player of the game.
Mark had a single & played a really solid game at short
In the third, Lauren came up with one out & recorded her second base hit, & Mark followed with a single. Unfortunately the rally died as a second out was recorded & then Emily K was robbed on a good play by their right-center fielder.
Emily H had an rbi single too!
After holding scoreless in the top of the fourth, we were trailing 3-0. But Triffid & yours truly led off with singles, & then Emily H & Kristina each followed with an rbi single. Sadly, the rally died there, as three consecutive outs were recorded to leave two crucial runners on base. Still, we went into the fifth trailing by only one run!
Emily K went 2 for 4 with a single & a double, continuing her strong hitting in the Fall League
But the fifth turned out to be the inning for, & when the dust had settled they’d scored four runs to take a 7-2 lead. They held us in the bottom of the inning, with only Emily K reaching on a single, & then added an eighth run in the top of the sixth.
Nicole played sick, & what a gamer she was! Big rbi double during our sixth inning rally, then scored from second on a close play following Lauren's single!
But the Underhanded Compliments played with so much heart that day, & we weren’t about to concede. Yours truly led off with a single—& then two outs were recorded! Things looked bleak, but Steven singled & Nicole smacked an rbi single, & Lauren came through with a 2-out 2-run single to cap her strong performance. The rally ended there, but it was 8-5, & after holding them scoreless in the top of the seventh, we had a puncher’s chance.
Steven had a single & scored a run in the bottom of the sixth
It wasn’t to be. We went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. It was a tough loss, but a loss with no shame in it. We’d played without some of our best players, with only 10 players at the game, & had played a tight game against one of the strongest teams in the league.
Cameron at the plate against

Next week: 10/11 vs The Syndicate! (weather gods permitting)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Game that Almost Wasn’t – 9/20 vs. The Beestroyers

Zeb at the plate - no question in my mind he was "Player of the game" with 3 homers & 7 rbis!
When I showed up at Irving Park last Sunday—early as usual—for our game against the Beestroyers, I expected to watch some of the game between Yur’s Bar & the Pineapples; but what I found instead was a group of the Pineapples milling around, playing catch, & generally taking stock of a situation that included virtually no players from Yur’s Bar. Indeed, the 1:30 game had been a forfeit.

So what were the odds that our game would also be a forfeit? Slim, right? It was a beautiful late summer Sunday, perfect for a game of softball. Who wouldn’t want to come out on such a day? But in fact, as the time for our game drew near & the Underhanded Compliments gathered, we discovered that the Beestroyers didn’t have enough players, & weren’t sure enough would show up—in fact, they suspected strongly that they wouldn’t get the minimum eight players.

Lauren at the plate: a model of consistency & skill. 3 for 4 with 3 runs scored & 2 driven in.
Various options were discussed; we wanted to play, so at one point we agreed to a scrimmage that would involve loaning the Beestroyers a couple of our players. In addition, a player from the Syndicate had showed up very early for his 4:30 game, so the Beestroyers recruited him. & then, just as the forfeit was about to become a fait accompli, a couple of Beestroyers came to the rescue, & they had a nine-player team.
Mark at the plate: speaking of models of consistency--4 for 4 with 3 rbis!
The Beestroyers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, & Lauren started off the first for us with a single. Zeb—who had a monster day (& is having a monster season after 3 games!) rocked a homer to deep right field, & we were up two just like that. Matt singled, & then with one out, Bryce also hit a home run. Mark followed with a triple, but we were unable to bring him home. Still, we had a 4-0 lead after one.
Matt lamented that he had few rbi chances with all of Zeb's home runs, but he did go 2 for 3 & added a sacrifice fly the one time Zeb didn't homer!
The Beestroyers were able to answer however, as their first two batters reached base, & both ended up scoring. We were able to escape the inning without further damage though, in part because of a great catch made by Mark, ranging from his shortstop position well in to left field, to record the third out with two runners on base.
Kristina went 4 for 4 & scored 3 runs!
We really got our offense going in the bottom of the inning. Kristina, Emily H, & Rob led off with singles, the latter scoring Kristina. Nicole then drove Emily home on a fielder’s choice, & after a second out was recorded, we rallied in a big way. Zeb hit yet another 2-run homer, Matt tripled, Triffid singled him home, Bryce doubled, then Mark singled to score both Triffid & Bryce. Just like that we were up 11-2, & the Beestroyers went quietly in the top of the third.
If I could name two "Players of the game" Emily H would definitely be my choice along with Zeb - possibly her best game ever with the team. 3 for 4, 3 runs scored & an rbi! Really solid contact too!
The third turned out to be even a better inning for the Underhanded Compliments. Yours truly led off with a single, as did Kristina—& then Emily H smacked a liner to center for an rbi. Rob came through with an rbi double, & Nicole followed with a 2-run single. Lauren also singled, & then Zeb doubled to score Nicole. Matt hit a sacrifice fly to drive in another run with the inning’s first out, & then in succession, Triffid singled, Bryce doubled, & Mark singled; after a second out was recorded, yours truly came up again & drove in the ninth run with a single to center.
Nicole attacking the ball! Big 2-run single for her in the third, & a total of 3 rbis!
Having reached the run limit, we moved to the fourth inning, & the Beestroyers did score a single run. But we were back in business in the bottom of the inning as Kristina & Emily H started us off with singles, & Rob followed with an rbi double. With one out, Lauren hit a 2-run single, & then Zeb hit his third 2-run homer of the day! The amazing thing is the Beestroyers insisted on playing him at medium depth (at best) in right field, though the way those balls were crushed it wouldn’t have made much difference. Five more runs on the board & a 25-3 lead.
No matter where he bats in the order, Rob is an rbi machine! Really great addition to the club too, as he is willing & able also to play several positions in the field.
The Beestroyers did plate two runs in the fifth, but we matched that in the bottom of the inning as Bryce led off with a homer, followed by a double from Mark, who was then driven home by Emily K’s single. The Beestroyers were held scoreless in the sixth, & the game was called both for time & score. We won 27-5; you could say we "beestroyed the Beestroyers."
Emily K put on exclamation point on the proceedings with an rbi single in the fifth inning
The next three games are all against teams ahead of us in the standings: 9/27 vs. The Pineapples, who are also 2-1, though one of those wins was the forfeit by Yur’s Bar (which also means they’ve allowed fewer runs), then 10/4 & 10/11 against the two currently undefeated teams, & the Syndicate. Of course, one of those teams will have a loss after 9/27, because they’re facing off against each other in the 10:30 game!
Triffid was 2 for 4 batting clean up, with 3 runs scored & 2 driven in; & pitched a great game as always!

Next week: 9/27 vs. The Pineapples!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Not Quite: 9/13/15 vs Yurs Bar

Triffid had a great game recording four strikeouts & no walks (as usual!) She was named Player of the Day - with Emily K at third base

Sunday September 13th was an ideal day for a softball game: warm & sunny, & a summer feeling in the air; & the Underhanded Compliments & Yurs Bar (AKA Up Yurs) played a rollicking softball game indeed, going to extra innings, Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong end of a 19-18 score.

We got off to a solid start in the first inning, as Zeb, Lauren, & Matt led off with consecutive singles, & then Rob followed with a 2-run double, & Emily K added on with a 2-run single. Unfortunately, we were unable to add on, & Yurs scored 3 runs in answer in the bottom of the inning. We were playing as the visiting team, & that may have been a crucial factor in this tight game.

Rob also had a big game going 3 for 5 with two doubles, a triple &  6 rbis!
Mark led off the second with a home run, then with one out, Kristina & Zeb each singled. Following a second out, Matt singled home Kristina & Rob doubled in Zeb & Matt. Yurs only scored one in the bottom of the inning, & after two we led 8-4.
Kristina had a big hit in the second
Unfortunately, we were unable to score in the third, & Yurs scored in the bottom of the third to go up 9-8. But we answered in the top of the fourth: With one out, Zeb smashed a homer to right, then Lauren walked & Matt followed with a 2-run homer. We had a two-run lead! Admittedly, in slow pitch softball two runs are practically nothing.
Huge day for Zeb: 5 for 5, 4 runs scored, including 2 homers & a triple!
The lead was indeed short-lived as Yurs again put up 5 runs in the bottom of the fourth to go back on top 16-11. We got one back in the top of the fifth; with two outs, Triffid tripled & Mark sent her home with a double. & we were finally able to hold Yurs scoreless in the bottom of the inning!
Emily K was 2 for 4 plus a walk, including a homer & 4 rbis!
The sixth was our big inning. With one out, Zeb hit his second home run, Lauren & Matt singled, & Rob hit a 2-run triple. Emily K then rocked a 2-run home run to left center, & we’d taken a 17-16 lead! & we held Yurs scoreless again in the bottom of the sixth!

In the top of the seventh, Mark led off with a single—his fourth hit on the day—& after two outs were recorded, Zeb tripled to right. We had a two-run lead going into the bottom of the seventh.

Mark had a big 4 for 4 game, including a homer & a double.
Yurs put its first two runners on, but then a base running blunder by them & a great, heads up play by Triffid & Zeb led to a double play. There was a runner on second with two outs, & we had a 2-run lead.
Lauren was 2 for 4 plus a walk, with three runs scored
Sad to say, the next Yurs batter smashed a ball into the left center field gap. Lauren made a valiant attempt to track it down, but when the dust cleared, the ball went to the fence for a 2-run inside the park homer. The next batter flied out to Rob, but the game was tied at 18.

It’s unusual for Underdog Sports league games to go to extra innings because the games are run on a tight schedule. However, our game was the final game of the day, & so we went to the eighth inning. We went down quietly in the top of the inning—our only base runner was Emily K, who worked a 2-out walk.

Matt on the move! 4 for 5 including a homer, 4 runs scored & 4 rbis
The leadoff batter for Yurs doubled, & then we recorded an out. But the next Yurs batter absolutely crushed a ball to deep right field—actually, more like left field on Field #2. Emily H had zero chance of getting to the ball, which would have been a home run, but of course once the runner on second scored, the game was over.

It was a tough loss. While we’ve been scoring a lot of runs, we’ve been surrendering a lot so far this fall as well. But one thing for sure: this is no fault of Triffid, who really pitched a great game & was let down by the defense on several occasions. Triffid recorded 4 strikeouts without a walk (the latter almost goes without saying), & was named player of the day.

We’ll hope to get back on the winning side on 9/20 (today, actually!) against the Beestroyers!

Next Week: The Beestroyers!