Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring Game 5 April 19 vs The Syndicate

Bryce continues his domination of the Irving Park Spring League!

An ideal April day—sunshine that looks ahead to May & June, & high blue skies. On the hillside overlooking the field, a group of people sitting on a picnic blanket playing ukulele. They are watching the game prior to ours & saying how hard it is to tell which team is winning; odd observation, because that game actually isn’t close at all.
Cameron was rocking the fright wig!
But for those on the hillside on their lawn chairs & blankets, it’s a lazy day straight out of the height of spring. & then down on the playing field, us playing a game. It’s softball after all on a beautiful day—how serious can it be?
Gustav moved to the lead-off spot & came through with a 2 for 3 day
But our game is against The Syndicate, last year’s Spring League champion. After two games in which we dominated weaker teams, we’ll be put to a test. Last season in our inaugural run in the spring league, the Syndicate beat us 28 to 5. We’re a better team now, & we enter the day in second place, a half game ahead of The Syndicate. So the relaxed sunny day fades into the background behind the tension of a contest.
Matt scoring in the first - Emily H coaching 3rd Base
Indeed, we start strong: With one out in the first, Matt doubles, Emily K singles, & Zeb singles to drive in Matt. Then Bryce smashes a 3-run homer deep to right field, & we’re on top 4-zip. But in the bottom of the inning, The Syndicate comes back to tie. Each team scores one run in the second. Jessica singles, reaches second on an error by their shortstop, & Emily H sends her home with a single. We don’t score in the 3rd, & they take a 6-5 lead on a solo home run. Both teams go scoreless in the 4th, but in the 5th we put up a three-spot to take the lead: Cameron doubles, Jessica singles, & Mark drives in Cameron with a base hit. Then with two out & two on, perhaps the highlight of the day—Hayden singles to drive in two runs! We lead 8-7. The Syndicate does score on in the bottom of the inning, but we’re holding on by one run.
Zeb at the plate!
The 6th looks to be a big inning. Emily K leads off with a single, & this is the start of a 4-run frame; triple by Bryce, then consecutive singles by Harrison, Colin, & Cameron. We go into the bottom of the 6th with a 5-run lead.
Harrison at the plate - big hit in the 6th!
Sadly, it was not to be. The Syndicate scores four in the bottom of the 6th, & we go down 1-2-3 in the top of the 7th. In the bottom of the inning, their first three batters reach, & the game is tied with none out & runners on first & third. The next batter hits a deep fly ball to left, & despite Matt’s catch & strong throw, the runner from third scores easily.
Emily K has been a hitting machine this season!
The team played with so much heart. Despite us coming out on the short end of the score, Colin is named player of the game in his return from a leg injury that had kept him out our first four games. Not only does he chip in with two hits, he played a great game in the field, starting two key double plays from his shortstop position & flagging down a foul ball behind third base! Hayden’s big hit was a joy, & Jessica had a solid 2 for 3 game. Bryce continued his onslaught on the league with a homer, triple & double, & Emily K also kept up a string of base hits—she has been an on-base machine so far this season & a great addition to the team.
Hayden's big hit was a highlight of the season!
It’s almost evening now. Everything is a bit more subdued. A game—not a serious thing, but also something that can break a heart just a little bit as the shadows lengthen on a perfect Spring day.


Player of the game, Colin - great to have him back!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Game 4 – April 12th vs Indy Team #1

Big game for Matt! 2 home runs, 2 doubles, 8 rbis. With Mitchell in Left Field in the background
The Underhanded Compliments improved to 3 & 1 on the season with a dominant performance against the Indy Team formerly known as Where My Pitches At on Sunday: 25 to 0. Hits for everyone!

It was a fun day, as several of us got together at the Free House for food & beverages before the late game (6:00 p.m. start time), & to celebrate Bryce’s birthday. It had been a bit of a nerve-wracking morning for yours truly, as several players were unavailable: Ariel, Cameron, Harrison, Hayden & Harrison all were out. But fortunately Mitchell stepped up to fill in on the men’s side, & Emily K cut short a visit in Washington to come out, so we were able to field an 11-person team: 7 men & 4 women.

A great shortstop/second base combo: Matt & Emily K; with Bryce in center. Emily went 3 for 4, while Bryce had a 4 for 4 on his birthday & a circus catch in the first inning!
Things started off well in the first inning. Matt doubled, & Emily K followed with a single. Zeb doubled in Matt, & Bryce followed with the first of two triples to drive in Emily & Zeb. Triffid got Bryce home on a groundball, so we took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the first—which was a 1-2-3 inning that included a fine running catch in short centerfield by Bryce.

We kept the pressure on in inning two with consecutive singles by Gustav, John & Emily H, the latter driving in Gustav. Emily H had a fine day at the plate: 3 for 4 with 4 rbis & 3 runs scored. With one out, Matt cleared the bases with a 3-run homer; then Zeb hit a line drive single with two outs, & Bryce sent him home with his second triple. 9-0 after two!

Zeb at the hot corner, Triffid pitching - a shutout no less. Triffid has a 3.04 ERA on the season, which is remarkable for slow-pitch; a tribute to her accurate pitching & to our overall defense
In the bottom of the second the Indy team did put a couple of runners on, but some good defensive work, especially by Triffid, kept them off the board.

The third was our big inning, as we scored the 9-run maximum with the Indy team recording only one out. The inning began with hits by Mitchell & Nicole (in her first game!), a walk to Gustav, an rbi single by John, a 2-run single by Emily H, a single for Mark, & then another 3-run homer by Matt. This was followed with hits by Emily K, Bryce & Triffid, who knocked in Bryce as run number 9 with a double to center.

Nicole at the plate. In her first game Nicole chipped in with a hit, 2 runs scored & an outfield assist!
The Indy team went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, & we followed with a 7 run inning in the top of the fourth to end the scoring. Mitchell led off with a single, & then with one out we got consecutive singles by Gustav, John, Emily H & Mark before Matt smacked a 2-run double. Emily K, Zeb & Bryce also had hits in the inning, in which we batted around.
Gustav had to move behind the plate after tweaking his knee on a slide. We hope he's good for next game, because he is contributing a cool .787 average on the season!
The fourth & fifth innings on defense led to a couple of interesting plays. In the fourth, we cut down a player trying for two on a play from Nicole to Emily K to Zeb, while in the fifth, in an exciting play at the plate, we nailed a runner trying to stretch a triple to a homer on a throw from Emily H to Emily K to Mark to Triffid. That sealed the shutout, & the game ended after five as the Indy team invoked the mercy rule. That was Emily H’s second outfield assist of the season!
Emily K scoring one of the 25 runs!
We ended a good day with a return to the Free House for further celebration of Bryce’s birthday & the big win. As was so often the case last year, I was once again reminded of the great feeling of camaraderie, friendship & support on this team, which has made it one of the best sports experiences in my very long, albeit undistinguished sports career!
Mitchell sprinting for first; Mitchell went 3 for 4 on the game.

Our next game is this coming Sunday, 4/19 against the Syndicate, last Spring's champions. That will not be as easy as these last two match-ups!

Later this week on the blog (I hope!) first practice at Pier Park!