Wednesday, August 03, 2011

'Rakers' Season Comes To End With Playoff Loss to I'd Hit That

CONCORD -- The season that began with a hail-out ended with: hell....out.

The Muckrakers were battered and bloodied, and yet they refused to quit and they fought on to the bitter end. And that's just Randy Striegel.

As they have all year, the Men of Muck gave a valiant effort, but this time their efforts fell a little short in a 13-11 loss to I'd Hit That on Field 3 last Friday. It was the second loss to the playoffs for the Muckrakers, who were thus eliminated and forced to call an end to an eventful 16-game campaign.

Yer Heroes, you'll be proud to know, did not go down quietly or compliantly. Rather, the Masters of Muckdom battled IHT -- which bore an uncanny resemblance to their first-place friends from D-League South, The Guys -- to a 9-9 standoff after the regulation seven innings. IHT rallied for four runs in the top of the eighth to take a 13-9 lead. But it was nervous times for IHT in the bottom half, as Rick Browning walked with one out, Dave Alcorn singled, and both eventually came around to score on Striegel's double. But somehow IHT managed to hold on and advanced in the tournament, perhaps knowing in their heart of hearts that maybe they got away with one on this night.

Certainly, the most inspirational athlete on the field this night was Striegel. Starting at shortstop in this one, Striegel was bopped in the head by an errant IHT toss in going for a double in the third inning. Blood flowed from Striegel's ear as a result of the toss. But leaving the game was never an option for the sturdy Striegel, who went 4-for-4 in the game, lacking a home run for the cycle.

Striegel and the 'Rakers were at their best in the first inning when they poured it on for five runs on the strength of home runs from Chris White and Matt Knauff.

In the fourth, Luke Abbott doubled and scored on Browning's single as the Mucksters make it an 8-5 game in their favor. But feisty IHT went ahead 9-8, the 'Rakers tied it in the sixth on Bob Brindley's single plating Striegel, thus setting the stage for extra-inning heroics from both sides. Yet, for the Muck-N-Ators, it was not to be.

And yet, there was little fault to be found in a season that saw the Muckrakers make their triumphant return to the land of the postseason. Not that that looked like a sure bet after the team got off to a 1-4 start. But the 'Rakers, as they always seem to do, pulled together and made it better. They got to work and made it a season to remember. And that's softball, the Muckraker way. May there be several more seasons sill to come.

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