Saturday, April 16, 2011

'Rakers pour it on, tip 9 Mugs and a Pitcher

CONCORD -- Now that was worth waiting for, wasn't it?

Denied a game for two weeks thanks to the schedule-maker and Mother Nature, the Muckrakers rained a whole lotta offense on 9 Mugs and a Pitcher, taking the opening night tilt 17-8 Thursday on Field 3.

The victorious 'Rakers played like a team that was desperate to get the darned league under way. All 12 Mucksters contributed to the fun, with each 'Raker getting at least one hit and eight having multi-hit games. The Men of Muck amassed 26 hits and batted .577 against hapless 9MAAP, and surely sent shock waves through the rest of Thursday Night D-League.

This was a new-look 'Raker outfit doing all this damage. In addition to the old reliables, sprinkled about the lineup were a trio of 'Rakers making their Muckraker debut: Reed Johnson, Jose Gomez and Chris White. Under the able guidance of Manager Chris Wagnon, the newbies and the vets meshed as though they've been one happy family for years and years.

It's not unlike Fearless Leader Wagnon to have some managerial trickery up his shirt sleeve, and boy oh boy, did he pull one out of the hat on Thursday. Wagnon employed the rarely seen "Volleyball Defense," where each player rotated left after each inning.

Whimsical, perhaps, but effective, yes. Yer Mucksters played stellar defense in Game 1, with the infield and outfield each turning in highlight-worthy plays.

Bob Brindley, making one of his cameo appearances, popped 9MAAP's bubble with his spectacular catches in left field. Matt Knauff was his usual solid self in center and almost turned in a remarkable play on a deep drive. At shortstop, Randy Striegel put a nice bow on the game with his nice flip from the hole to third baseman Dave Alcorn, good for the forceout and the final out of the contest.

Your Heroes were just as dominant on offense. In fact, in the third inning, Brindley and Striegel each bashed home runs, which served as a noisy prologue to the eight-run fourth inning that blew this puppy wide open. Fourteen 'Rakers batted in the fateful frame, with 11 bashing hits and six driving in runs. Alcorn tripled in the inning, and the plucky infielder and leadoff man enjoyed a 3 for 4 opening night.

Rick Browning also got off to a hot start, going 3 for 4 as well, and Knauff and Striegel were positively torrid with their 4 for 4 game, Striegel also driving in four runs.

So D-League, you've been warned: You can only hold off the relentless Muckrakers for so long.

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