The DC Bullets softball squad returned to action Tuesday against Vanity Fair in Central Park’s North Meadow making a fashion statement with their new uniforms, sporting a Batman/baseball design (seen above) created by Andy Kubert (thanks, Andy)! As the game started, the preponderance of June rainouts may have left the Bullets’ bats in a funk, but some solid defense and a couple baserunning blunders by the Variety crew opened the door for the Bullets to seize an extra-inning victory. If they could just get the bats on track…
The first inning set the tone for the low-scoring, defense-oriented game. The DC team mustered only a harmless two-out single to center by 3B Mike “Ringer” Lorah (3-4, run, RBI, triple). In the bottom half, with two runners on base, SS Adam “El Capitan” Schlagman, 2B Joel “Pressman” Press and 1B Jay “Doing it for the over-40 crowd” Kogan (1-4, run, RBI, double) played it Tinkers-Evers-Chance-style, turning a 6-4-3 double play on Vanity Fair’s clean-up hitter.
Top two, following a nice pivot to complete the twin killing, Pressman (2-4, run) jump-started the Bullet offense with a one-out line drive single to left. Back-to-back singles by C Sal “Bagman” Cipriano (1-3, run) and SCF Doc Lauren Fries (1-3, run) loaded the bases, and LF Andrew “Read Adventures in Cartooning” Arnold’s (2-2, 2 RBI, double, triple) sacrifice fly brought home the game’s first run. Emergency pitcher Christine “CNap” Napolitano (1-3, RBI) knocked a base hit into left field to score Sal with the Bullet’s second run. Vanity Fair halved the Bullets’ lead with a run in the bottom of the second.
Both teams came up empty in the third, with the Bullets again managing only a two-out single. Vanity Fair ran into a big out in their half: with a runner on second and two out, Lorah bobbled a slow roller up the third base line. With no chance at a play at first, the Bullets caught a break as the runner at second broke for third. Lorah’s shovel to Schlagman, covering the bag at third, was in time for the second out, and the Bullets were able to get out of the inning without damage.
Vanity Fair came back with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, after the Bullets went three up-three down. Vanity Fair’s 3-2 lead after four innings didn’t seem insurmountable on paper, but with DC twice managing only two-out singles and once going down in order, the Bullets ability to rally back seemed doubtful.
In the fifth, Arnold’s double with one away set the stage for Neil Hiremath’s two-out RBI single. After a brief juggle by the Vanity Fair shortstop, Hiremath beat the throw to first by barely a step, and Arnold, aggressively running from the crack of the bat, sprinted home from second to tie the score. The Bullets turned away VF in the bottom half with good defense, and Joel Press was again in the middle of it. Snagging a hard-hit line-drive toward the middle, Pressman was able to double a base runner off first base to end the fifth.
The Bullets went down meekly in the sixth, managing only CF Vince “Running out of nicknames” Letterio’s (1-4) base hit, and the Vanity Fair’s top hitters both went opposite field for a one-out double and an RBI single to re-take the lead. Top seven, after Pressman’s lead-off single, Cipriano just missed a big double down the left field line, hooking the hit inches foul. After Sal eventually popped out, Doc Fries grounded into the fielder’s choice, erasing Joel. Down to their last out, the Bullets were in trouble, but Andrew Arnold came up with another big hit, hammering a drive down the left field line. Fries scored easily to tie the game; Arnold stumbled coming around third base and missed the bag, possibly denying him a game-winning home run. After CNap’s groundout, the Bullets went into the bottom of the seventh locked in a 4-4 tie.
With one out and a runner on first, a Vanity Fair hitter rolled a routine ground ball to shortstop. Schlagman was on it, but Jay Kogan – making his first start at first base in untold years – couldn’t handle the throw. Both runners advanced one base on the overthrow, and Vanity Fair had the winning run on third base with only one out. The Bullets needed a miracle, and they got it. The next VF batter’s hard grounder to short was picked by Schlagman, who opted to look the runner back to third and let the hitter reach base, setting up a force play at home plate. However, the runner at second inexplicably broke for third and ran directly into Schlagman’s tag for the second out. The runner at third, perhaps confused by his advancing teammate, then took off for home and was easily thrown out, with Cipriano blocking the plate perfectly. Double play, extra innings.
Hiremath smoked a line-drive off the pitcher for a lead-off single to open the Bullets’ eighth. After VF’s left fielder made a great running, snowcone catch of Schlagman’s (0-4) liner, Letterio grounded to short to move Hiremath into scoring position. Then, finally, the Bullets’ bats came alive, with three straight bloop hits that fell just beyond the reach of an opposing fielder. Lorah’s high pop dropped just behind Vanity Fair’s right fielder for an RBI triple. Jay Kogan then slapped an RBI double into left center, and DH Larry “LP” Vollano (1-4, RBI) flared a single into shallow center, chasing Kogan to the plate.
Taking a 7-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth, the Bullets only needed to play for outs. Routine ground outs to Schlagman and Press reduced Vanity Fair to their last out. A two-out triple (on a close play at third) proved only a minor delay, as CNap finished the complete game win, inducing an infield pop-up to third to secure the victory.
Final score: DC Bullets 7, Vanity Fair 4. The Bullets are now 5-3, including 2-2 in New York Media League action.
The Bullets return to the field twice more this week: Thursday, July 9th at 5:30pm against The Onion on North Meadow, Field #2. The following day, in NY Media League play, the DC team meets High Times on the Great Lawn at 5:30pm.