Will an early season matchup against the Paris Review set the tone for the DC Bullets' coming summer? Two years ago, porous defense and inconsistent hitting led to an embarrassing and lopsided loss during a shaky season. Last year, the offense carried the day, as it did for most of the 2010 summer. Yesterday, strong defense and just enough offense propelled the Bullets to a 7-3 victory.
Infield defense was the order of the day. Both teams' infields held the line, preventing extended rallies and consistently turning routine balls into outs. And some not-so-routine plays, as shortstop Nel Yomtov's two over-the-shoulder catches in shallow left field will attest. Although the Bullet offense never seemed to click - in part due to the Paris Review pitchers' ability to keep the ball inside, limiting the comic book makers to jam shots and handle hits, and owing to a few of our own baserunning blunders - DC's bats came through when they needed to.
The Paris Review loaded the bases with only one out in the first inning, but Joel Press rose to the occasion, getting a sacrifice fly and a routine grounder to third to end the inning while allowing only a single run. Not until the eighth (the game went quickly and an extra inning was agreed upon by both teams) would the Review score again. In the last of the first, DC took the lead and never gave it back. Travis Hastback's single got things started, but he was quickly erased when The Paris Review's second baseman made a nice play on Nel Yomtov's sharp grounder and flipped to second for the force. Mike Lorah got jammed on an inside pitch, but fisted the ball over the Review's first baseman where it landed on the right field foul line. Nel moved over to third, and Mike stopped at second with a double. Joel Press lined out to the second baseman, but Jay Kogan came through with a big two-out hit, lining a triple into the left field corner. CNap followed with a base hit, scoring Jay for a 3-1 lead.
After ground outs by Sal Cipriano and Laura Demoreuille in the second, Vince Letterio, Allison Dugas and Travis singled. On Travis's hit, Vince initially stopped at third; however, when the throw came in to the plate, and the Review catcher was out of position (relaxing near the backstop, fairly oblivious), Vince tried for home. The catcher recovered, and flipped to the pitcher who'd come to cover, and Vince was out.
Nel and Mike both singled in the third, line shots to center. Joel followed with a fly ball to shallow left field, and Nel decided to try to catch the leftfielder napping. He wasn't, and Nel was out at third by a good margin. Fortunately, Jay came through with another two-out hit, doubling to left to score Mike. Jay took third on the throw to the plate, and then trotted home when the throw back to third went into left field. DC led 5-1 after three innings.
Pat beat out an infield roller to lead off the bottom of the fourth, and moved to second on an overthrow. Sal lined out hard to left, and Pat, thinking perhaps the ball was over the fielder's head, wandered too far off second base and was doubled off. And Laura's fly out to shallow left ended the inning.
The fifth started slowly, with groundouts by Vince and Alli, but Travis's two-out single offered some hope. Then Nel -- and for those of you who weren't there, I should set the stage. When Paris Review took the field in the bottom of the fifth, the girl who'd gone out to play right field hadn't taken a glove, because she didn't seem to realize she needed one. So Nel inside-outed a line drive right at her. Instant triple, scoring Travis. Then Mike got another ball on the handle of his bat, and drawn by Murphy's Law, that hit also fell into right field, scoring Nel. Being a big softie, however, Mike stopped at first and waited for the throw to come back into the infield, and it didn't make much difference as Joel then flew out to end the inning anyway.
In the sixth, CNap and Pat singled with one out, but Sal and Laura left them stranded. The seventh was more of the same, as Vince and Allie got the Bullets started with singles, but Travis's 6-5 fielder's choice, Nel's line out to shortstop, and Mike's 6-4 fielder's choice squelched any rally.
Finally, top eight, Paris Review's pitcher unloaded a long RBI triple to leftcenterfield, and he later scored on a groundout, and that was your final score: Bullets 7, Paris Review 3. Big thanks to the Paris Review for coming out. We had a good time.
At 4-3 (1-0 NYMSL), the Bullets play truTV next Thursday at home, North Meadow #2 in Central Park. The team also returns to NYMSL action next Friday, on the Great Lawn, against longtime rival High Times.
LF Travis Hastback - 3-4, R, double
SS Nel Yomtov - 2-4, 2 R, RBI, triple
3B Mike Lorah - 3-4, 2 R, RBI, double
P Joel Press 0-3
RCF Jay Kogan - 2-3, 2 R, 3 RBI, double, triple
C/2B/RF Christine Napolitano - 2-3, RBI
RF Pat Brosseau - 2-3
1B Sal Cipriano - 0-3
1B/2B/C Laura Demoreuille - 0-3
LCF Vince Letterio - 2-3
C Allison Dugas - 2-3