Perhaps they hadn’t fully recovered from a game the previous evening; perhaps the speed of the turf field caught them flatfooted; perhaps they were simply getting too big for their britches and needed some humility. Personally, I think LP’s right and the blame goes to Mike Lorah for forgetting his lucky Phillies hat (and by extension, blame to the Phillies for not playing better and reminding him to wear the hat). Whatever the case, the DC Bullets fumbled and errored their way into an early hole, rallied back to tie the game, and then stumbled one last time during a 9-inning 12-11 loss against The Nation.
Now, the Bullets’ struggles – which included several errors at third base; a few tricklers lost in the Bermuda triangle between the pitcher’s mound, first base and the second baseman; a dropped fly ball; and two balls that bounced past outfielders for extra bases – should take nothing away from the solid softball played by The Nation. In sharp contrast to the Bullet infield, The Nation took eight outs on fielder’s choices and threw out a runner attempting to go first-to-third on a base hit. The Nation also came up with several clutch hits to take advantage of a DC mistake.
The Bullets grabbed a brief early lead, but missed a chance for more, as centerfielder Neil Hiremath singled but was thrown out at third base on third baseman Mike Lorah’s base hit to left field. Mike took second on the throw to third, and scored on shortstop and co-captain Adam Schlagman’s line drive single. Rightfielder Pat Brosseau (2-4) also collected a base hit, but Adam and Pat were left stranded.
In the bottom of the first, The Nation quickly tied the game at one and, following a 1-2-3 Bullet second, fed off some sloppy defense (Mike and that triangle between the mound and first base), came through with some key hits, and plated three runs in the last of the second.
Catcher Brian Walters (2-4, 2 R) led off the third with a ground single into right. Amy Demoreuille (2-4, R), playing second base, and Neil Hiremath followed with fielder’s choices, leaving Neil at first base and two outs. Mike lined a single to left, and Schlagman (3-5, R, 4 RBI) followed with a bases-clearing triple. An errant throw to the plate bounced away, allowing Adam to race home with the game-tying run. Unimpressed, The Nation responded to DC’s score-knotting effort by doubling their run total, plating four more runs in the last of the third, and the Bullets mustered only leftfielder Brian Cunningham’s (2-4) one-out single in the fourth before The Nation tallied another run in the bottom half.
Down by five, DC needed to chip away at the deficit and hold the line with their defense, and they did just that. A golden scoring opportunity in the fifth netted only one run, however. First baseman Laura Demoreuille’s (2-4, R) singled got it started. Brian Walters’ fielder’s choice erased Laura at second, but Amy “Kid Sister” Demoreuille and Neil singled to load the bases. Bases loaded, only one out, and the heart of the order coming to the plate. However, Mike Lorah lofted a high sacrifice fly to center to score Brian, and Adam Schlagman followed with another high fly to limit the Bullets to a single run.
Fortunately, DC held The Nation scoreless in the fifth through seventh innings to keep the game close. In the Bullet sixth, Pat Brosseau’s lead-off single was wasted as the team grounded into three successive fielder’s choices. So we came to the seventh, Bullets down by four.
And the seventh didn’t start well, with back-to-back line drives right at The Nation shortstop. With only one out to work, DC required four runs to keep the game alive. Brian Walters and Amy came up with two-out singles, and Neil drove a third base hit into center field to score Brian. Mike Lorah (4-4, 3 R, 4 RBI, triple, sac fly), representing the tying run, came to the plate and hammered the first pitch to the base of the right field fence, a two-run triple, putting the tying run just 90ish feet away. Adam Schlagman, avenging his pop-out in the fifth inning, beat out an infield roller by a half-step, as Mike crossed the plate. After holding The Nation scoreless for the third consecutive turn at-bat, the game went into extra innings.
Both teams came up empty in the eighth inning. Sal Cipriano (1-4, R), co-captain and short centerfielder, and Laura both singled to open the ninth. Two fly ball outs prevented them from advancing, but the Bullets were able to get the top of the order to the plate with runners on base. Neil (4-5, 2 R, 2 RBI) slapped a ball through the middle, scoring Sal, and Mike followed suit, chasing Laura home. The top three hitters in DC’s line-up, Neil, Mike and Adam, accounted for all ten of the team’s RBI.
Having held The Nation scoreless for four straight innings, the comic book makers felt good going into the bottom of the ninth. Three batters later, The Nation had runners on first and second with one out. The fourth hitter popped a fly ball into the outfield, where it was dropped by Sal, allowing a run to score and putting the tying run at second base. Next, The Nation’s team captain lined a hit down the third base line, tying the game. The ball was bobbled in left field, tempting the runner from first base to go for the winning run. The throw came into Mike, who relayed to the plate. The throw, on time, angled slightly low and Brian couldn’t handle it, allowing The Nation to score the walk-off winner.
12-4 (5-2 in New York Media Softball League play), the Bullets travel to take on Newsweek next Monday at James J. Walker Park in NYMSL action.
Credit to The Nation for a terrific game. Their rock solid defense was the deciding factor in this one. But we’ll get ’em next time!
The Bullets will look to improve on their rocky 3-3 road record (wins over Wall St. Journal, Vanity Fair and WNYC; losses to High Times, Daily Show and The Nation) on Monday against Newsweek.
Thanks to Christine “CNap” Napolitano (0-4) for filling in on the mound, with aces Larry Ganem and Joel Press unavailable for Wednesday’s game. And to Amy Demoreuille for coming out to help the team, playing a solid second base and collecting two big hits.
Finally, the Bullets enjoyed the return of designated slugger LP Vollano (0-4), nursing a bruised shoulder for most of the summer, on Wednesday as well. Despite a hitless afternoon, LP crushed the longest ball of the day, a fly out to deep leftcenterfield in the eighth inning. It’s good to have LP back in the dugout, and there’s little doubt his timing will be locked in soon.