The DC Comics Bullets and the Marvel Comics Avengers softball teams went at one another Thursday afternoon in Central Park. The injuries, one on each side of the field, were purely accidental, we promise. And what more fitting way for a big game between the two biggest comic book publishers in the land to end than … in a tie?
Yep, DC’s field permit gives the Bullets North Meadow Field #2 in Central Park from 5:30-7:00pm, and if there’s another team waiting with their own permit at 7, the Bullets’ game had better be finished. In this case, thanks to the 7pm team’s graciously allowing the comic book makers an extra ten minutes to finish the seventh inning, DC and Marvel finished regulation, but the limits of a standard seven-inning game didn’t allow time to determine a winner.
The heart of Marvel’s order feasted on Bullet pitcher Joel Press, scoring four times in the first, twice in the third, four more times in the fifth (highlighted by a mammoth three-run home run to center field) and once more in the sixth. Fortunately, Joel and a solid DC defense held the bottom portion of the Avengers’ line-up in check, keeping the game close.
And they had to keep it close with pitching and defense, because early in the game, the Bullets couldn’t muster much offense. The Bullets scored single runs in the first three frames – a two-out walk by shortstop Adam Schlagman (0-1, 2 R, 2 BB) and consecutive singles by leftfielder Andrew Arnold (2-3, R, RBI) and leftfielder Jay Kogan in the first; in the second, Adam Staffaroni, making a rare start at first base and playing a terrific game there, singled, moved to second on second baseman Vince Letterio’s fielder’s choice (SCF Lauren Fries, who’d singled leading off the inning was forced at third), and raced home on P Joel Press’s line hit to center; and catcher Sal Cipriano essentially stole a run in the third. With Sal on first, catcher Katie Kubert (1-1) tapped a slow roller in front of the pitcher’s mound. Marvel’s hurler came forward to field the ball, but the throw walloped Katie on the elbow and ricocheted down the right field line. While Marvel’s first baseman gallantly checked Katie’s arm, Sal came all the way around to touch home plate. Katie stayed in the game defensively, but wasn’t able to swing a bat the rest of the evening.
With Marvel leading 6-3 after three innings, both teams went scoreless in the fourth, and Marvel added four more runs in the fifth. DC responded with two of their own. Rightfielder Pat Brosseau slammed a triple into right field, and came in on Lauren’s base hit to left. Staffaroni (2-3, 2 R) singled, and Vince again grounded to the third baseman who forced Lauren (3-3, 2 RBI). Joel singled to load the bases, and rightfielder Brian Walters (1-3, 2 RBI) grounded to first base to tally a second run.
Marvel added one more run in the top of the sixth, taking an 11-5 lead. The next nine Bullet hitters reached base safely, however, as DC charged back into the game. Designated hitter LP Vollano (0-1, R, 2 BB) worked a leadoff walk, and Sal singled to left. Centerfielder Neil Hiremath (0-2, R, BB) worked another walk to load the bases, and Mike Lorah (1-3, R, RBI), the third baseman, caught a break when Marvel’s rightfielder misplayed his fly into an RBI single. LP scored easily, but a strong throw cut down Sal (1-2, R) at the plate for the first out. Marvel then attempted to get Neil going to third base, but the throw bounced away and Neil scampered home. After Schlagman worked another walk, Marvel opted for a pitching change; the Bullets greeted the relief ace rudely, with four consecutive singles by Andrew, Jay (2-3, R, RBI, double), Pat (2-3, R, 2 RBI, triple) and Lauren, scoring four more runs to tie the game at 11 apiece. Marvel escaped further damage when, with runners at first and second, Adam Staffaroni rolled into a 5-3 double play to end the sixth.
In the seventh (with time on the permit expiring and the teams agreeing to start with a 1-1 count on each batter), after a leadoff single by Marvel’s second baseman, Joel induced a popup and then a routine ground ball to third. Mike Lorah went for the lead runner, getting the force out at second base, but Marvel’s runner rolled over his ankle sliding into the base and had to be carried off the field. The Bullets send their best wishes for a speedy recovery. Joel got one more out, and DC had a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh.
After Vince’s (0-3) ground out, Joel (3-3) did his best to help himself, crushing a triple to deep left field. With the winning run on third and only one out, the Bullets could taste victory. Brian Walters hustled out an infield single, tapping back to the mound, but the pitcher checked Joel, who had to stay at third. Christine “CNap” Napolitano (0-3), the second baseman, grounded to the hot corner, where Marvel’s third baseman again checked Joel before throwing across to retire CNap. With two outs, LP Vollano, still nursing a bruised shoulder, fouled off a pitch and swung through a second for a game-ending strikeout.
The tie leaves the Bullets 13-4-1 on the seasons, including a 6-2 record in the New York Media Softball league. Friday’s game against Archie Comics will be over before this posts, so their next game is next Thursday, North Meadow #2 against The Daily Beast.
Both teams made some terrific plays, and the final score reflects how evenly matched the teams were, and members of both teams mingled together for beers afterwards.
Credit to Marvel for some excellent outfield arms that prevented the usually aggressive Bullets from taking many extra bases, and to Andrew for holding one of Marvel’s sluggers to a triple on a towering drive into deep left. Pat’s running, sno-cone catch in right saved the Bullets in the second, and Mike’s backhand stab and strong throw from third base ended the fifth.
A big thanks to all the DC staff, including Batman himself, who came out to support the Bullets. The vociferous cheering during the sixth inning definitely gave the team a huge boost. And yes, Batman was there, and no, nobody was more shocked than I to find out that he’s real.