At 7-0, the DC Bullets are off to one of their best starts ever, but they faced one of their biggest challenges of the 2010 season Thursday afternoon against perennial powerhouse, the High Times Bonghitters. In the end, High Times rode one strong inning to a 12-7 victory, handing the Bullets their first loss of the year.
Larry Ganem and the Bullet defense forced the Bonghitters to put up zeroes in five of seven innings, but in the second, everything fell in. Line drives, flares, see-eye grounders – High Times hit ‘em where the Bullets weren’t, producing a ten-run frame. It was easily the worst inning the Bullets have allowed in some time.
Meanwhile, facing one of the best pitchers in the New York Media Softball League, the Bullet hitters struggled to string together extended innings against the mix of speeds offered by the Bonghitters’ ace righty.
In the first, trying to jump out for an early lead, third baseman Mike Lorah lined a single to right center, and shortstop/co-captain Adam Schlagman (1-4) followed suit, setting up first and third with one out. LF Andrew Arnold hit one on the screws, but lined it directly to the opposing shortstop, and a fielder’s choice squelched the scoring threat. In the second, responding to the Bonghitters’ ten run outburst, the comic book makers managed only first baseman Brian Cunningham’s (1-3, double) one-out double to left center. The Bullets retired in order in the third, including hitting into a double play.
After Lorah grounded out and Schlagman popped up, Andrew Arnold (1-3, R, RBI, HR) finally gave the team a kick start in the fourth. On the first pitch, Andrew pulled one of the longest foul balls seen in the NYMSL. And then to show he’s not a dead pull hitter, he went to right field and hit it just as well. The solo homer got the team on the scoreboard, and DH LP Vollano, playing with a bruised shoulder, and SCF “Doc” Lauren Fries (2-3) kept the inning alive with base hits, but the Bonghitters prevented further scoring.
2B-1B Joel Press (1-1, R) singled to open the fifth and went to third on RF Brian Walters’ (1-1) seeing-eye grounder back through the box. Larry Ganem (0-0, 1 RBI, SF), pitching shutout ball after his second inning troubles, scored Joel with a sac fly to center, but again the team couldn’t build on the momentum and settled for a single run.
LP (2-3, R, RBI, HR) launched a two-out blast to deep center field in the sixth, cutting the deficit to 10-3, but High Times managed to tack on two more runs in the top of the seventh to take a 12-3 lead into the final half-inning.
One-out singles by catcher/co-captain Sal Cipriano (1-2) and CF Vince Letterio (1-1, R, BB) gave the Bullets life. After Christine “CNap” Napolitano’s (0-2, R) fielder’s choice erased Sal, centerfielder Neil Hiremath (1-3, R, RBI, BB) drove a base hit into center, scoring Vince. Ending a string of frustrating at-bats against the Bonghitter ace, Mike Lorah (2-4, R, 3 RBI, HR) got hold of a pitch and drove it just beyond the High Times’ centerfielder’s reach to clear the bases. But Schlagman followed with a hard hit fly ball that carried directly to the left fielder for the final out.
With their first loss of the year, the Bullets drop to 7-1 overall, and 3-1 in the New York Media Softball League. They return to action next Thursday, 5:30pm, North Meadow Field #2 in Central Park, against the Scholastic Red Dogs.
Defensive standouts notices to Brian Cunningham and Joel Press for digging out those low throws at first base (and to the High Times’ first baseman, who made a similar scoop on the back end of a double play), and to Neil Hiremath and Andrew Arnold for turning the two farthest-hit balls of the afternoon into outs with smart positioning and a whole lotta speed.
This reminder to stay behind the dugout fence on the third base line whenever Vince is batting. Nobody wants to see you get hurt, Andrew.