New season, old story for the DC Bullets in the 2011 season opener. On a cold, blustering afternoon, the top of the first inning, always a thorn in the comic book makers’ sides, got the better of the team again, as the Bullets fell behind early and couldn’t rally back to make up the difference in a 6-5 loss against The Nation.
The Nation came out aggressive against DC’s pitcher Jeff Boison, driving a series of hard line singles over the infield to take a quick lead. DC had a chance to minimize the damage to one run when Mike Lorah fumbled a routine grounder at third base with two outs registered. Four successive hits followed, and the Nation tallied five runs for the early lead.
In the bottom of the first, second baseman Brian Walters flared a single into right field, but the momentum quickly turned when shortstop Nel Yomtov scorched one of the hardest hit balls of the evening – right to The Nation’s third baseman. Brian, moving on contact, was easily doubled off first base. Mike, looking to make up for his error, launched a solo home run into right center field to get the Bullets on the board, but right centerfielder Vince Letterio flew out to left, ending the first.
The offense’s inability to string together any hits or put pressure on The Nation’s pitcher remained a theme throughout the game (credit to their infield defense, for consistently and efficiently turning batted balls into outs). The Bullets went down in order in the second inning. After The Nation tacked on their only tack-on run in the top of the third, singles by LCF Neil Hiremath and catcher Laura Demoreuille set up a one-out scoring opportunity, and rookie second baseman John Choi capitalized. John unloaded a drive to deep left field, clearing the bases, bringing in three for the Bullets. Two more quick outs, however, prevented DC from keeping the pressure on their opponents.
In the fourth, Mike Lorah added a second solo home run, a drive into left center, but the inning turned out to be an otherwise quick four-batter frame for DC. Catcher Allison Dugas’s leadoff single in the fifth wound up wasted. The sixth, more of the same: Laura lined a single to right to lead it off, and one out later, rookie leftfielder Travis Hastback beat out an infield hit, but a fielder’s choice and a pop-up squelched the rally.
Down to their last opportunity in the seventh, Mike waited out six unhittable pitches, but couldn’t check his bat on the last, short toss, grounding out weekly to shortstop. Vince followed suit. Captain Sal Cipriano, playing first base, ate up The Nation’s third baseman with a bounding chopper to put the tying run on base, but Alli grounded to second to wrap up the season opener. This loss, by the way, makes two straight to The Nation (both by a single run).
Despite the offensive struggles (every DC run scored on a homer; where’s the situational hitting?!), the Bullets had a few defensive highlights: Vince Letterio showed his stuff with a pair of running grabs that left the opposition cursing and a big outfield assist that turned a near-double into a single and a baserunning blunder; and flawless games from Nel, Brian and John up the middle show promise for a solid infield core. Jeff Boison, stepping in to pitch in ace Larry Ganem’s absence, kept The Nation hitters off balance most of the game – their top slugger only got out of the infield once in three plate appearances.
The Bullets return to action next Thursday against Archie Comics. 5:30pm, North Meadow #2 in Central Park. Comic book fans won’t want to miss it!
Bullet Box score:
2B Brian Walters 1-3
SS Nel Yomtov 0-3
3B Mike Lorah 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 HR
RCF Vince Letterio 0-3
1B Sal Cipriano 1-3
C Allison Dugas 1-3
RF Pat Brosseau 0-2
LCF Neil Hiremath 1-2, R
P Jeff Boison 0-2
C Laura Demoreuille 2-2, R
2B John Choi 1-2, R, 3 RBI, HR
LF Travis Hastback 1-2