Monday, October 05, 2009

Fired-up Fireline douses Muckrakers

CONCORD -- The Muckrakers, who for the most part insist on playing tightly competitive games, did so again on Thursday, with the final ledger not quite turning out in our heroes' favor: CR Fireline 6, Muckrakers 5.

It was the third time in four Fall League tries that the 'Rakers played a one-run ballgame. Unfortunately, all this closeness isn't helping The Lads' playoff chances, as the team has sustained two straight losses of the one-run variety.

Another ugly trend has raised its lil' pointed head. Yer 'Rakers' run production has dipped in each game from the start of the season, setting the bar up high with 15 runs and trending downward to 10, 9 and 5. I'm just sayin'.

Not that the dalliance with CR Fireline had nothing to recommend it. The Mucksters put forth by far their best defensive effort of the fall semester. Rick Hurd, channeling John Stockton in a short-shorts kind of way, used his Procol Harem ("Lighter Shade of Pale") legs in a constructive way in making nice athletic plays at first base. Randy Striegel was a double-play machine at shortstop, Mike Yurkus and Dave Alcorn were their reliable, steady selves in the infield, and Chris Wagnon was death to any fly balls hit within reach.

Yet monster rallies proved elusive to the Muckrakers at the bat, and they had to settle for two-run rushes in the third and sixth, with a single run scoring in the second. Matt Knauff, an offensive MVP candidate, Fall League division, drove in a pair of runs and went 2-for-3. Dave Taxier and Alcorn also had two-hit games, and Bob Brindley tripled and scored a run in the second stanza.

Perhaps the real highlight to the whole deal was the postgame cookout, a bold new dimension to the standard parking-lot domination. The hot dogs and burgers were to die for.

And a few more runs beforehand wouldn't hurt, either. Stand back -- these 'Rakers are on the verge of a breakout game.

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