Monday, June 16, 2008

Pesky Rooters no match for victorious Muckrakers

CONCORD -- Somewhere, an unnamed Muckraker -- identities will be protected, we don’t want any D league betting scandals breaking out -- is a little poorer, for the Mighty ‘Rakers didn’t cover the spread.

Yet that big rush of wind you detect is Muckraker Nation breathing a collective sigh of relief after it managed to take a one-run victory, 15-14, over the winless, last-place Rooters on Thursday on Field 4.

They don’t all have to be pretty, and this one wasn’t, but going beyond the superficial looks of things, certain facts emerge: The Muckrakers won their second straight ballgame and have pulled up into the .500 position (4-4) with four games left to the regular season, a playoff berth still in sight.

The religious Rooters did their best to throw a wrench into the ‘Rakers patented late-season rush, blooping hits, rapping seeing-eye grounders and basically making themselves all-around pests.

The Muckrakers, to their credit, kept plugging away as well. At times they did more than plug. Mat Petersen showed impressive power with his two-run homer in the first inning. Then Kevin Schuler showed, mad, stupid power with perhaps the most prestigious blasts in all of recorded Muckraker history.

Some say Schuler’s second-inning, three-run clout to right cleared the scoreboard in the deepest part of that quadrant. Others say the ball flew under the scoreboard and over the fence. The actual truth of the matter may never be clearly known. What we do know is the jaw-dropping spectacle accounted for nearly half of the ‘Rakers runs in the eight-run uprising in the second. Mike Yurkus (2-for-3, three runs scored) accounted for three more runs in the rally with his key double.

And yet the plucky Rooters kept at it, making it a 13-all ballgame in the fourth inning. The ‘Rakers had to keep scoring, and keep scoring they did. Chris Wagnon (2-for-2, two runs scored) delivered the clutch blow, a two-out single plating Mike Gale (3-for-3) and Rick Hurd (2-for-2), giving the Men of Muck a two-run bulge. When the Rooters could only manage a one-run response in the fifth, the game was finally the ‘Rakers’, and the playoff drive could continue.

The Rakers benefitted from rapping 14 hits and eliciting eight walks from several shaky Rooters pitchers. The Muck-N-Ators needed every bit of help on this night, and the fact that they helped themselves as well bodes well for yet another postseason push.

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