Monday, May 21, 2012

Muckrakers dump Got the Runz

CONCORD -- Sometimes we over-think this whole softball thing. We get into strategy, lineups, alignments and whatnot and we can twist ourselves into knots over what -- a ballgame?

Sometimes it's really just a matter of going out and hitting, running and throwing as hard as you can for as long as you can -- and if it all works out in your favor, good on ya.

That was pert near the case last Thursday on Field 5, when two heavyweights of the D-League division clashed on a sultry evening. The 3-0 Muckrakers were there to take on 2-0 Got the Runz, a team that had put up 20 runs on each of its first two foes.

Clearly, this game would be about two teams firing hay-makers at each other for about an hour, and whoever blinked first would likely come up short.

Well, the Men of Muck are still undefeated -- you guess who blinked.

Scoring 20 runs and lashing 28 hits -- and needing each and every one -- Los Muckeraros eked out a 20-19 victory over GTR, moving to 4-0 and preserving their status among D-League's elite teams.

This one came down to the final inning. Finding themselves down 19-16 going into the top of the seventh, Yer Heroes rallied for four runs to take the precarious one-run advantage going into the bottom of the frame. Facing a high-powered GTR offense, pitcher Chris White capped his phenomenal night by tossing the ultimate shutdown stanza, retiring GTR in one-two-three fashion, the contest's final out coming appropriately on a harmless come-backer to White.

White? How about White-hot? All the right-hander did, along with his complete-game pitching prowess, was go 5 for 5, with two homers, a pair of triples, and five RBIs.

White tripled in one run during that crucial seventh-inning uprising. But, as is typical for the Mucksters, it was far from a one-man effort. Chris Wagnon continued his solid hitting (3 for 5, three RBIs) with a clutch bases-loaded two-out single in the seventh to plate the tying and go-ahead run. Matt Knauff (4 for 5, three ribbies) touched off the fun with his leadoff single. And Eric Liethliter broke out for his biggest game of the season, going 4 for 5 and singling in a run in the seventh.

The 'Rakers had fun in the seventh, but they had a blast in the first -- three of them, in fact. In what was most likely a Muckraker first, the team went back-to-back-to-back with homers, as Randy Striegel, White and Knauff all went yard as the 'Rakers roared out of the blocks with a five-run first inning.

Not content with that, the Mucksters then batted around in the second inning and scored six more runs -- yet still held only an 11-8 advantage. It was that type of old-fashioned slow-pitch slugfest softball.

GTR powered across eight of their own runs in the third and added two more in the fifth in moving further out in front. But the Muckrakers had a few more blows left in them -- not to mention one gigantic shut-down in the bottom of the seventh.

It takes a team effort to pull out games like these, and the 'Rakers were well-prepared. Striegel turned in a nifty game at short, Reed Johnson and Dave Alcorn at the defensive corners continually worked their ways on base on offense, and Matt McCall continues to be a menace at the leadoff spot. Catcher Brian Kroll has home plate covered and at bat enjoyed his first multi-hit performance of the season (3 for 5). The 'Rakers were also fortunate for the first appearance of the season of veteran left fielder Chace Bryson,

So, how about doing it all over again this Thursday? The Muckrakers and GTR are slated to meet again on Field 2, 7:20 p.m. So bring your popcorn  -- a lot of popcorn, and throw in a Big Gulp, too. This will be one game you're not going to want to miss.

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