Friday, May 11, 2012

'Rakers go to 3-0, run through Local 302

CONCORD -- Sometimes, it takes a little shot of power to get everything going. The Muckrakers enjoyed a little multi-homer effort as a kick start the offense, and the hot-as-blazes ballclub continued its torrid play on Thursday with an 8-2 victory over Local 302 on Field 1, the 'Rakers' third consecutive victory of the young D-League season.

It was quite a warm day for this early game at Willow Pass Park, the 6 p.m. start and warm temperatures perhaps combining to lull both team's bats asleep. The 'Rakers found themselves down 1-0 after two innings, having squandered scoring opportunities in the first and second. Manager and No. 3 hitter Matt Knauff took scoring matters into his own hands in the third, smashing a vicious drive to center, and, perhaps just as remarkably, flying around the bases -- Knauff had injured his calf the week before -- enabling the Mucksters to pull into a 1-1 tie.

In the bottom of the fourth, leadoff man Matt McCall put his speed and power on display with his blast to left field. Brian Kroll made it all the way in from first base, with McCall not far behind, for a two-run dinger and a 3-1 'Raker margin, their first lead of the day.

The two drives seemed to jump-start the 'Rakers, who put this one away in the bottom of the fifth by collecting seven hits and scoring five runs. Perhaps the highlight of the decisive stanza was a brilliant, heads-up running play by courtesy runner Chris White, who tagged from third and scored on an infield pop, much to the shock and dismay of Local 302. Striking for RBI hits in the fifth were Chris Wagnon, Kroll, McCall and Reed Johnson, with Eric Leithliter notching the sac fly designation.

After that outpouring of runs it was up to White's pitching and the defense behind him to keep it all together, and keep it together they did. The visitors scored only one meaningless run in the top of the seventh, and after that the 'Rakers could take away another solid win and a firm grip on first base.

Local 302 could only score in the first and last innings, and had five scoreless innings sandwiched in between. That advanced the 'Rakers' number of opponent scoreless innings to 11, a remarkable total for three games.

With its offense and defense working in harmony --not to mention the newly found love of the long ball --  the Muckrakers have become a powerful force coming out of the gates.

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