Monday, July 16, 2007

'Rakers rock again as Young Guns Reloaded shoots blanks

CONCORD -- Let’s just say it right off -- nobody wants to play the Muckrakers right now.

Why would they? Taking on the red-hot ‘Rakers is surely an invitation to disaster.

The latest D-League West team to learn this sad truth was Young Guns Reloaded, who fell victim to the Muckrakers and their hell-bent dash to the postseason to the tune of 20-10 in a rare Field 5 tilt.

The Muckrakers accomplished several things in their sojourn to the north of the league standings. They won two games in a row for the first time since Dave Taxier was a whippersnapper in short pants, they gained a measure of revenge against a team that had pretty much been their daddy the first time around, and most important, they made their quest of achieving the postseason for the second straight season just that much more doable.

In going to 6-5 and getting back over the .500 hump, ‘Rakers wisely stuck to the same formula that has served it so well of late: timely hitting up and down the lineup, awesome on-base percentaging and a rock-solid defense.

The Muckrakers also continued their trend of being the Six O’Clock Mashers. They came out of the early gate playing like the team on a mission that they are, putting up a five-spot in the top of the first before YGR had their gun belts properly fastened.

Five of the first six ‘Rakers reached base safely, with Randy Striegel’s double being the big extra-base blow. After a shutdown bottom of the first there was no offensive letup in the second, as the Mucksters threw up another five-spot. Dre Thurston clobbered a home run, and Mat Petersen and Striegel each drove back-to-back doubles.
After a rare one-two-three top of the third, the ‘Rakers put the pedal to the metal to finish things out, hitting the finish line with two three-run rallies and a four-run job.

Even the YGR being allowed to flip-flop their final two innings thanks to some goofy Concord rule wasn’t enough to save the youthful upstarts from their inevitable fate (and say, was their pitcher legally on their roster? Just askin’). There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s the oncoming train lights of the Muckrakers’ Playoff Express. Get on board or get the hell out of the way. You might get run over.

NOTES: Table-setting supreme -- the first four ‘Rakers (Mike Yurkus, Dave Alcorn, Thurston, Petersen) scored three runs apiece. ... Rick Hurd helped out nobly with two hits and two runs scored and played on despite sustaining a bloody leg after sliding at a play at the plate (he was safe!). ... Manager Chris Wagnon shuffling the outfield alignment a tad, and the move paid big dividends. Chace Bryson started in left, Mike Gale shifted to left-center, and Thurston manned right-center. Wagnon and Hurd platooned in right. ... In perhaps the greatest display of ‘Raker fandom in the recorded history of the Muckrakers, Joe DeLoach supplied postgame beverages. Beer, water, Gatorade, the works. Joe DeLoach, the grateful ‘Rakers tip their hats to you. ... Still, several ‘Rakers headed to Legends, along with DeLoach and fellow fan Kelli Phillips, for the postgame spread. ... Phillips again performed solidly as Official Scorer. Thank you, Kelli.

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