Softball games don't get much tighter or better than Thursday's New York Media Softball League showdown between the DC Bullets and Forbes. The first game between the two teams, a back-and-forth battle, ended with a one-run triumph for the comic book makers, who were looking to run their NYMSL record to 4-1.
They did just that, squeaking out another nailbiter during a 3-2 victory. Playing their second game of week in broiling temperatures, DC seemed slightly laconic in the early going. A few infield pop-ups dropped next to or between fielders, but the team caught a few breaks - usually able to convert a fielder's choice on the misplays - and kept the game close until they got their game legs.
Forbes scored twice in the second inning, but also left the bases loaded in the first, second and third innings. DC's defense, however, managed to come up with the inning-ender each time to prevent the game from getting away. Over the final four innings, Joel Press and his defensive unit kept Forbes from seriously threatening. Credit to, among others, Neil Hiremath, for playing a short field (something we've rarely done this year) and preventing at least three base hits, and Brian Walters for stepping in to play a steady shortstop. John Choi and Pat Brosseau each made a fine running catch in the outfield as well.
Offensively, the Bullets didn't muster much, but they did enough. Here's how it went:
In the first, Neil Hiremath flared a hit into shallow center and never broke stride, sprinting into second for a leadoff double. He tug up, moved to third on Mike Lorah's pop-up to right field, but was left stranded when Travis Hastback popped up to the catcher and John Choi grounded to shortstop.
After Forbes plated two runs in the second, DC immediately seized back some momentum. Brian Walters lined a single to right field, but it seemed he too might be stranded when Pat Brosseau and Christine Napolitano both flew out to left field - credit to Forbes' fielder for a terrific shoe-string grab of CNap's sinking liner. However, with two out, Sal Cipriano tomahawked a liner to left that skipped beneath the leftfielder's glove. Brian raced around from first for DC's first run, and Sal cruised into second. Joel then flew out to left to end the rally.
DC tied the game the following inning. Blake Kobashigawa ripped a line double into the leftcenterfield gap. After Allison Dugas struck out, Blake sprinted home on Neil Hiremath's second double of the afternoon. Mike followed with a bullet at the pitcher, whose reflexes perhaps saved his own life, and certainly stole a hit from Mike. Travis flew out to end the frame, and the game remained knotted for two more innings.
John, Brian and Pat retired in order in the fourth, and CNap, Sal and Joel followed suit in the fifth. Credit again to a Forbes' fielder, their shortstop this time, for a spectacular catch on Sal's no-man's-land pop-up down the left field line.
Blake, after scoring the tying run, started the winning rally with his second hit of the game, a single to left. Alli's groundout to third move Blake into scoring position, where he stayed when Neil popped up to shortstop. Mike Lorah, riding an 0-2 game, came through, slapping the game-winning hit just over a leaping second baseman. Travis followed with a base hit, but John popped up to wrap the sixth.
Top seven, Joel made it a tiny bit interesting, walking the tying run with two outs, but induced a routine grounder to third to end the game.
Again, thanks to Forbes for a terrific game. Two showdowns, two one-run affairs. We seem to match up pretty well - and we definitely look forward to doing it again. Hopefully a playoff meeting is in the cards for us!
12-6 (4-1 NYMSL), the Bullets tackle WNYC next Thursday on North Meadow #2 in another NYMSL blockbuster.
LCF Neil Hiremath - 2-3, RBI, two doubles
3B Mike Lorah - 1-3, RBI
LF Travis Hastback - 1-3
OF/1B John Choi - 0-3
SS Brian Walters - 1-2, R
RCF Pat Brosseau - 0-2
2B Christine Napolitano - 0-2
1B Sal Cipriano - 1-2, RBI, double
P Joel Press - 0-2
RF Blake Kobashigawa - 2-2, 2 R, double
C Allison Dugas - 0-2