Saturday afternoon's first round playoff match-up between New York Media Softball League #2 seed Wall St. Journal and #3 DC Bullets went down to the wire. DC broke out of an offensive malaise, perhaps instigated in part by their three-week layoff between the season's final game and the playoffs start-up, with three runs in the seventh. But the Bullets fell just short in a 7-4 loss.
Okay, that would've been the story if we could only ignore that rather psyche-damaging ten-run first inning that WSJ put on the Bullets. The final score was actually 17-4. But it sounds more dramatic when it's a closer game, doesn't it?
DC fell into a black hole from the start: Larry Ganem grounded out, Mike Lorah mustered an infield single, and John Choi grounded into a 6-4-3 twin-killing; WSJ then batted around, scoring numbers that usually look okay on the opposing scoreboard - "1" and "0", but they don't look quite so good when you put them together. "10"
Could the team rally? In the second, Pat Brosseau hammered a one-out double to center, moved to third in Vince Letterio's base hit and came home on Laura Demoreuille's grounder. After Allison Dugas grounded out to end the second, DC managed a few scoring threats, but little actual scoring.
One-out singles by Jerry Cerza and Blake Kobashigawa offered hope in the third, but Christine Napolitano grounded into a fielder's choice, erasing Jerry, and WSJ's pitcher snared Larry Ganem's line drive to end the threat. Mike, John and Jay Kogan, the heart of the order, went meekly in order in the fourth; Pat singled to lead off the fifth, and Joel added a two-out hit, but neither came near home plate. Two-out singles by CNap and Larry brought Mike to the plate in the sixth, but a high fly to deep right was hauled in for the inning-ender.
Meanwhile, WSJ tacked on two runs in the third, four runs in the fifth, and one more (on a monster home run to right center) in the sixth. And it could've been worse: with a runner on first in the fourth inning, Jay Kogan ran down a towering fly ball somewhere on Central Park West, and then doubled up WSJ's runner - who'd gone from first base nearly to third - when he missed second base while retreating. The very next batter scorched another towering drive that Jay also ran down. CNap also ran down a long fly in right earlier in the game, and after a terrible first inning, captain Sal Cipriano's re-aligned defense played much better over the final six innings.
Seventh inning, down to our last three outs, and sixteen runs down - the Bullets showed just a little bit of fight. After John worked a leadoff walk, Jay and Pat singled, scoring one run. Vince popped up, but Laura drew another walk to load the bases. Joel grounded into a fielder's choice, forcing Laura, but Jay scored, and Pat also sprinted home on an errant throw on the double-play attempt. Brian Cunningham and Jerry added two-out singles to reload the bases, but Blake's fielder's choice wrapped up the game.
17-4, not much good to say about it. Congrats to Wall St. Journal for going on to top High Times for their third straight NYMSL championship, and credit to their hitters and defense for preventing DC from ever seizing any momentum in this one. They are the class of the league. For now, anyway.
P/C Larry Ganem - 1-3
3B Mike Lorah - 1-3
LCF/SS John Choi - 0-2, R, BB
LCF Jay Kogan - 1-3, R
RCF Pat Brosseau - 3-3, 2 R, RBI, double
LF Vince Letterio - 1-3
1B Laura Demoreuille 0-1, RBI, BB / C Allison Dugas - 0-1
SS/P Joel Press - 1-3, 2 RBI
2B Brian Cunningham - 1-3
2B Jerry Cerza - 2-3
C Blake Kobashigawa - 1-3
RF Christine Napolitano - 1-2