Tuesday, November 10, 2009

'Rakers conclude with near-victory vs. Ballers

CONCORD -- What is Manager Wagnon’s mantra? Something along the lines of, “swing those bats?”

You betcha. The mighty Muckrakers had ample opportunity to do just that in their Fall League season finale on Oct. 29. Despite a lusty and robust approach at the plate, the ‘Rakers’ offseason sendoff was an 18-17 shading by the Ballers on Field 2.

The Men of Rake fielded just eight players -- sucks for the outfield, but perhaps a bonus on the offensive side. Everybody got to “swing those bats” early and often, with each ‘Raker making at least five plate appearances. And, this reporter is proud to say, the residents of Muckraker Nation took full advantage, each of them pounding at least two hits, and five of them driving in three or more runs.

Randy Striegel led the attack with a four-hit, three-ribbie performance, and Chris Wagnon took his own immortal words to heart (3-for-6, four RBI). Matt Knauff and Brian Kroll also rolled out three-hit games.

It might have been Manager Wagnon’s words that spurred the team to a 21-hit offense, or it might have been his end-of-season random lineup-out-of-a-hat strategy that turned the trick. In this reporter’s estimation, too close to call.

It didn’t quite add up to a win, but the Mucksters caused some nervous moments for the Ballers, such as in the seventh inning when Yer Rakers mounted a seven-run, two-out rally, causing the Ballers to start yelling and grumbling among themselves.

The rally fell short, but there was no shortage of fun during Fall League ‘09. The Muckrakers will reconvene in April, ready for more fun and fully prepared to “Swing Those Bats.”

Fun with numbers: The 'Rakers' 21 hits were a Fall League season high, surpassing the 17 struck on Opening Night in a 15-14 win against the Brown Sox. The Mucksters' season-high in hits came a game after they managed a season- low six hits. The 'Rakers' '09 high is 24 hits, accomplished twice in consecutive Summer League games (May 21, 16-9 win vs. Super Crew; May 28, 18-9 win vs. Air Pro).