Friday, July 27, 2012

Outside Looking In: WNYC Pushes Bullets to Brink of Playoff Elimination

Mathematically, the DC Bullets hopes of getting into the New York Media Softball League playoffs remain alive; however, the odds are stacked against DC after WNYC emerged victorious in nail-biting, down-to-the-wire 5-4 thriller on North Meadow #2. The loss drops the comic book makers (despite a respectable 12-8 overall record) to just 2-6 in league play, with upcoming games against Forbes and Wall St. Journal. Catching Forbes, currently 3-4 (games remaining: WNYC, High Times, DC), remains a mathematical possibility, but the Bullets will need to avenge an earlier defeat at the hands of the business mag and get a whole lotta help from their friends.

Despite the close score, DC actually trailed the entire way on Thursday evening. Three of the first four WNYC batters reached base on hard-hit singles, and a couple flares capitalized on the baserunners, plating three runs and taking an early advantage.

DC's bats, meanwhile, came out hot in the first inning, but couldn't find any holes. Pat Brahseau reached on a one-out single, but Mike Lorah followed with a 230-foot fly out. After Kevin Schwoer lined a two-out base hit to center, John Choi ripped a line drive - right to the shortstop.

Larry Ganem and the DC defense stepped it up after the first, holding WNYC scoreless in the second, third and fourth innings, but the Bullets had a hard time stringing together any offense. Joel Press struck out on a change-up to start the bottom of the second (one of four strikeouts collected by WNYC's ace. Christine Napolitano pulled a single through the infield and Vince Letterio followed suit, but DC couldn't take advantage. Nel Yomtov ripped a ball toward the leftcenterfield gap, but WNYC's leftfielder closed quickly and made a terrific catch to steal away extra bases, and Sal Cipriano popped up to second to leave two runners stranded.

DC didn't manage a baserunner in the third, as Dan Bertoldi punched out and Laura Demoreuille and Neil Hiremath popped up on the infield. However, the comic book makers broke through in the fourth inning. After Pat took a called strike three, Mike outran a trickler down the third base line. One out later, John singled through the middle and Joel clubbed a long double into the left field corner, scoring both runners. Joel held at second on CNap's infield single to third, but Vince went down swinging, reaching for that slow floater from NYC's pitcher.

After their first inning flurry, WNYC tacked on just two insurance runs, both largely due to pure speed. In the fifth, with runners at first and third and one out, Larry induced a routine grounder to third. Mike fielded the ball, stepped on third for one out, and then threw across to first a half-step too late to complete the potential inning-ending double play. WNYC's speedy leftfielder, at first base when the play started, never broke stride and sprinted around to third on the play, and then scored on a clean single to left from the next batter. The next batter lifted a flare into shallow left which might've scored another run, but Kevin closed quickly and made a terrific sliding catch to end the threat.

Down 4-2, DC couldn't get the run back in the bottom half of the frame, managing only Blake Kobashigawa's two-out single, grounded hard just beyond the second baseman's reach. After holding WNYC down in top six (on three successive pop-ups to Laura at second base!), DC again cut the deficit to a single run. After Larry was robbed when NYC's leaping second baseman pulled down his line drive toward right field, Pat grounded a single through the right side and Mike hammered a pitch off the pitcher for an infield single. Kevin lined a base hit to centerfield, scoring Pat and moving Mike, the tying run, to third base. However, John and Joel both popped up to third base, leaving the two more runners stranded.

WNYC hustled up another run in the seventh. One out, runners on first and second, and a WNYC hitter fisted a squibber between Joel at second base and Laura at first base. With Joel cheating toward second for the force play, it was too far for him to go and there was no way for Laura to field the ball and get back to the base. Which, by itself, wasn't an issue, but WNYC's speediest runner was on second base. Without breaking stride, he rounded third and headed home. Joel shoveled the ball, late, to Laura, and there simply wasn't time, with the ball hit so slowly, for Laura to turn and throw home. And that final run turned out huge.

After CNap was barely thrown out on a groundball to third, Vince Letterio finally conquered his dragon - a long fly ball that bounced atop the fence in the left field corner of the field and over for a solo home run, cutting the lead to 5-4. Nel grounded out, and the Captain, Sal, picked up a two-out single before Dan grounded softly to third base to close out the game.

12-8 (2-6 NYMSL), the Bullets have a three-game NYMSL break now; next Thursday, they meet Hachette Books on North Meadow #2. And to whet your appetites, the following week, on August 9, is the biggest game of the summer, as the Marvel Comics squad ventures to North Meadow #2.

Bullet Box:
P Larry Ganem - 0-2 / CF Neil Hiremath - 0-1
C Pat Brosseau - 2-3, R
3B Mike Lorah - 2-3, R
LF Kevin Schwoer - 2-3, RBI
SCF John Choi - 1-3, R
2B Joel Press - 1-3, 2 RBI
RF Christine Napolitano - 2-3
OF Vince Letterio - 2-3, R, RBI, home run
SS Nel Yomtov - 0-3
1B Sal Cipriano - 1-3
C Dan Bertoldi - 0-2 / 3B Blake Kobashigawa - 1-1
1B/2B Laura Demoreuille - 0-2

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