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Championship Weekend: Pats Clobber Hornets, Rats Rally Late, Claim Championship

Millers 5

Diamond Rats 6

WP: Greg Elbaum

LP: Mike Krezmien

The Diamond Rats were crowned 2023 Fall League champions on an exquisite day at Mitchell Field, with a thrilling 6-5 come-from-behind victory over the Millers. The top-seeded D-Rats started the wily Ricky Fleurent on the mound and the Millers countered with southpaw Jeff Whitehead, fresh off the plane following a baseball tournament in Florida.

The Millers threatened in the first on one-out singles by Tom Sebastyn and Whitehead, but to no avail. The D-Rats struck first, plating a pair in their half of the inning. Micah Winston and John Malikowski singled, with Winston scoring on an error during the transfer of a FC to 2B. Greg Elbaum followed with an RBI single for the 2-0 lead.

The Millers went down 1-2-3 in the 2nd and the D-Rats padded their lead with another 2-spot. Fleurent reached on an error, Tony Maspo walked, Mike Olkin laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that set the stage for RBI singles by Tom Neilson and Winston. The D-Rats could have had more, but for a fine LF-SS-3B relay by Chris Krezmien/John Wills/Tom Sebastyn on Winston’s hit, to nab the pinch-runner at 3B.

The Millers clawed back with a pair in the 3rd. Pres Pieraccini and Mike Arbour singled, and with 2 outs, Sebastyn lined a 2-run double into the left-center gap. Whitehead then retired the D-Rats in order in their half.

In the 4th, both teams traded zeroes. After a pair of singles by Millers chief Chris Scanlon and John Wills with one out, Fleurent induced a nifty 4-6-3 DP to 2B Tom Neilson, who tossed to SS Mark Caputo who fired a strike to 1B Joel Torres. Mike Krezmien relieved Whitehead, and after allowing a lead-off double to Elbaum and a walk, got out of the inning, in part thanks to a base-running blunder.

In the 5th, Fleurent was dominant, fanning 2 of his 6 batters on the day, but Krezmien also retired the Rats on 3 easy groundouts.

The Millers bats exploded in the top of the 6th with 4 doubles in the span of 5 batters to take a 5-4 lead. Chris Krezmien led off with a line drive down the LF line, and after a groundout, Whitehead roped one into LF to make it 4-3. D-Rats manager Winston brought in Elbaum in relief, but he was greeted by a towering shot by Mike Krezmien over LF to tie it, and then Scanlon lined an almost identical shot to Chris Krezmien’s for the lead. Elbaum settled down and got out of the inning with a groundout, and then induced a fly ball to RF on which Hector Arroyo made a nice running grab.

Down by 1, the D-Rats felt the urgency of the situation. Neilson drew a lead-off walk, and then Winston roped a ball down the RF line that rolled into foul territory and raced all the way around to 3B, barely sliding in head-first to beat a nice relay from RF Jack Eisenstadt to 2B Wills to 3B Arbour, as pinch-runner Torres scampered home to tie the game. After a walk to Caputo, John Malikowski’s RBI groundout to the right side put the D-Rats up one. Diego Ortiz then singled up the middle and the Rats hoped for more, but Arroyo sent a searing line drive to CF that Whitehead caught, bobbled, but then held onto, that was hit too hard for Caputo to tag, and then a force-out ended the inning.

D-Rats closer, Caputo strolled to the mound in the top of the 7th, looking for his 3rd save of the year, but the Millers had other ideas. Eisenstadt was brushed on the sleeve by a pitch, and after a force out at 2B, Justin Gaudette lined a single to RF. However, Caputo struck out the next batter on a nasty slider and then induced Chris Krezmien to pop out to him in foul territory to end a nail-biter that was emblematic of this fall season’s games, 8 of which were decided by 1 run.

Game photos courtesy of Stu Clark

Murder Hornets 2

Patriots 10

WP: Morriss Partee

LP: Bill Evans

The Murder Hornets and Patriots faced off in the last week of the Fall Ball season. The Hornets were seeking payback, having lost to the Patriots in their earlier matchup, while the Patriots were hoping to end the season with a win and .500 record.

Pitching controlled early, with Patriots starter Mike Dietlin and Hornets starter Bill Evans trading zeroes over the first two innings. Dietlin allowed only two baserunners, both via walk, while Evans allowed only one base runner, striking out three.

Paul Lellamo came in to pitch in the top of the 3rd inning, retiring the side in order. In the bottom of the 3rd, the Patriots drew first blood. Andy Klepacki and Ken Sloat hit back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Nolan Anaya reached on an error to load the bases. Mo Partee hit a line double to left, driving in Klapacki and Sloat and after three, it was a 2-0 Patriots lead.

The Hornets wasted no time evening the score. In the top of the 4th, Miguel Ringler led off with a double and Jon Ross followed with a walk. Bill Evans drove in both runners with a double of his own, tying the game at 2.

Mo Partee came on in relief in the 5th, retiring the side on six pitches. In the bottom of the 5th, the Patriots came out swinging again. Nolan Anaya started the Pats’ rally by drawing a one out walk. Mo Partee continued his hot hitting, lacing a single to put runners on 1st and 2nd. Matt Boulanger loaded the bases with a two-out walk. Mike Dietlin hit a clutch two-out single to right field, driving in Anaya and Partee and giving the Pats a 4-2 lead.

Partee continued to throw strikes, but ran into some trouble in the Hornets’ 6th. The first two hitters reached via an infield error and a base hit. The next batter, Bill Evans, hit a liner that was snared by Pats’ second baseman Mike Dietlin, who fired to first baseman Andy Klepacki to double off Ross. Partee recorded the last out himself, striking out the formidable Jim Fogarty.

The Pats put the game away in the bottom of the 6th. Ed Perlak and Andy Klepacki hit back-to-back singles to lead things off. Ken Sloat walked to load the bases. Back-to-back walks to Marin Goldstein and Nolan Anaya pushed two Pats runs across. Another Mo Partee single drove in two more. Matt Boulanger followed with an RBI single. When all was said and done in the inning, the Pats had pushed across six runs, putting them ahead 10-2.

Pats’ pitcher Ken Sloat came in to close things out in the 7th. Sloat surrendered a one out single to Mitch Gaslin, but rebounded quickly, striking out the next hitter for out number two. A ground ball to Pats’ third baseman Mo Partee resulted in a 5-3 putout and a Pats 10-2 victory.

Mo Partee earned the win, giving up only one hit, while striking out 1.

The Hornets’ offense was led by Miguel Ringler (1-3, 2B, R), Jon Ross (1-1, R, 2 BB), and Bill Evans (1-2, 2B, 2 RBI, BB0. The Pats’ offense was led by Nolan Anaya (1-2, 2 R, RBI, HBP, BB), Mo Partee (3-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI), Mike Dietlin (1-4, 2 RBI) Andy Klepacki (2-3, 2 R), and Ken Sloat (1-2, 2 R, BB).

Game photos courtesy of Stu Clark

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