Tuesday, October 05, 2010

'Rakers Pour It On, defeat 9 Mugs and a Pitcher

CONCORD -- A new-look alignment -- and no, we’re not talking about the Rat in Right -- and some good, old-fashioned clutch hitting propelled the Muckrakers to their first victory of the 2010 Fall League season, a 16-6 thrashing of 9 Mugs and a Pitcher on Thursday on Field 1.

That your local Mucksters evened their ledger at 1-1 could at the very least partially credited to some nifty outside-the-box thinking by the thinking-man’s manager, Chris Wagnon. In a master stroke, the Rakesters’ brain trust took usual No. 5 hitter Luke Abbott and inserted the “Roover” into the leadoff spot. Habitual leadoff guy Mike Yurkus dropped down to the No. 10 hole, in essence giving the ‘Rakers back-to-back leadoff men in the lineup. Genius, or what?

Abbott added a whole new dimension to the top spot, blasting four hits including a triple and scoring three times in setting the tone for what turned out to be a 22-hit smackdown of the 9 Mugs.

Yet this one did not start out being the rout it turned out to be. In fact, the Rake-meisters had a possibly deflating first frame, in which they had three hits yet could not muster a single run. They more than made up for that disappointment in the second inning when the big hits started to fall to the tune of a seven-run inning, with Abbott, Randy Striegel and Wagnon each tripling, the Lukester and Randy both plating two runs with their three-baggers.

But after five innings, 9 Mugs was still annoyingly hanging around, trailing only 10-6. In the top of the sixth, however, the Men of Muck applied the afterburners, rallying for six runs to provide some welcome breathing room.

Abbott, Chace Bryson (3 for 4) and Matt Knauff (3 for 4) all singled to loaded the bases. Striegel following with a vicious line drive right at the third baseman for out No. 1. But the good times started right up again as Ben Enos (3 for 4, three RBI) doubled in a pair and the Rake-N-Ators were very much good to go. Wagnon, Rick Browning and Dave Taxier all followed with RBI hits. Win No. 1 was looking very good at that point, and indeed, it was the Muckrakers night all around.

When a team hits, plays defense, and pitches, good things happen. Any ballclub will put up with the stray rodent in the outfield if it means the playoff push is under way.

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