Hustlers Rally Late, Defeat Millers; Murder Hornets Nip Lizards, Claim Championship
Jeff Whitehead delivers a pitch in the TNB50 Consolation Game at Mitchell Field. Hustlers win 5-3.
Murder Hornets 2
It was a beautiful, brisk late October Sunday before the largest crowd of the season that found the Lizards and Murder Hornets squaring off against each other in the TNB Fall Ball Championship game.
The Hornets came in riding a late season three game winning streak, including a 3-1 win over the Lizards, while the Lizards were riding high, sporting the league's best record of 5-1.
The game started with a bang for the Lizards when Micah Winston led off with a rope to left over the head of Hornet outfield Michael (Miguel) Ringler, giving the speedy Micah a leadoff triple. He was promptly driven home on a single to right by Mark Fox giving the Lizards the
early 1-0 lead.
That's where the score remained with Hornets starter Greg (E-Bomb) Elbaum throwing nothing but zeroes from that point on, while Lizard starter Ricky Fleurent was more than equal to the task, keeping the Hornets off balance throwing goose eggs in his four innings of solid work.
In the 4th Greg was relieved by Hornet ace Colin (Hoss) Hosley, and for the Lizards, Mo Partee took over on the hill in the 5th with the Lizards still clinging to a slim 1-0 lead. But, that's where the Hornets chipped away with a timely combination of bad hop hits, walks and a sprinkle of Lizard miscues to squeeze across two runs and take the lead.
In that inning Hosley started things off reaching on an error, Noodles had a fortunate tricky hop infield hit, Benji followed with a walk to load the bases, and the Hornets then tied it on a fielders choice, then went ahead on a clutch two out single by Rob Hyde to plate Benji with
the go-ahead run.
That's where it remained as Colin was on his game, retiring the Lizards in order in the 4th, 5th and 6th. But in the bottom of the 7th, the Lizards threatened one last time when Mark Caputo reached base leading off. After a big strikeout of the dangerous Mark Fox by Hosley, John (Ski) Malikowski drew a walk, and to add to the drama, an untimely passed ball moved both runners into scoring position with one out as Mo Partee strode to the plate. After working the count, and then fouling off a couple of two strike pitches, Mo hit a liner to Hornet shortstop Andy Klepacki who then tagged John Malikowski off second base for the
third and final out, leaving the Murder Hornets and their fans to celebrate and the Lizards in stunned disbelief.
It was a great game and a thrilling end to TNB Fall Ball's inaugural season, and it really was a shame someone had to lose. All told, the story was pitching and defense. The Lizards totaled 4 hits (and 2 of those in the first inning) and the Hornets only 5 hits.
Hornet MVP awards for the game (and really the season) are Greg and Colin. Both shared most of the pitching duties, and pitched great all season long, especially today. Greg gave up only one run early, and made an incredible circus catch behind the pitchers mound. Not to
mention his stellar hitting all season long. Colin threw 4 no-hit innings to close it out with only one walk, and at the plate he also had a hit and scored a run.
As what's been par for the course all season, Benji reached base 2 out of 3 times and scored a run. Booooooooooo!
Rob Hyde had the clutch game winning RBI hit.
Micah Winston led off the game with the hardest hit ball of the day which went for a triple, and he scored the Lizards only run. Mark Fox went 1-2 with a walk and also drove in a run.
Ricky Fleurent pitched 4 shutout innings, allowing just one hit, two walks and one HBP.
Game photos courtesy of Eric Bennett
The Millers and Hustlers met on the final day of the 50+ Fall Ball season. What followed was a competitive, back and forth affair that ended in a 5-3 Hustlers victory.
The Millers came out swinging in the first, scoring a pair of runs on hits by Hector Arroyo and Tom Conway, a Hustlers error, a passed ball, and a sac fly by Mike Dietlin. Hustlers starter, Jeff Whitehead, rebounded in the 2nd, striking out two, but Millers starter Eddie "The Problem" Esposito was equally effective, holding the Hustlers scoreless on one hit.
The Hustlers’s bats finally came alive with two outs and the bases empty in the 4th. A Whitehead walk and a John Dusenberry single put Hustlers runners in scoring position for the first time in the game. Chris Scanlon followed with an RBI single and Ken Sloat followed with a 2-run single and at the end of 4, it was 3-2 Hustlers.
The Hustlers lead was short lived. The Millers tied the game in the top of the 5th, capitalizing on another Hustlers error to lead off the inning.
The Hustlers went ahead to stay in the bottom of the 6th. Brian Kryolowicz and Whitehead hit back-to-back singles to open the inning. Ken Sloat drove in both baserunners with a single, giving the Hustlers a 5-3 lead. Sloat held the Millers scoreless in the bottom of the 7th to pick up the win.
Whitehead picked up a no decision, but pitched effectively over 4 innings, giving up 2 unearned runs on 4 hits, walking 1 and striking out 2. Sloat gave up no earned runs over the last 3 innings, surrendering 2 hits, while striking out 1 and walking none.
The Hustlers offense was led by Sloat (2-3, 4 RBI), Whitehead (1-2, 2 R, BB), and Chris Scanlon (2-3, R, RBI). The Millers offense was led by Hector Arroyo (2-4, R), Mike Dietlin (1-2, RBI), and Paul Lellamo (1-2, BB).
Game photos courtesy of Stu Clark