Semi-Final Haney Region
Bay City vs. Saginaw
Walnut Grove #1, World's Tournament
Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI
August 12, 2012
Bay City 15, Saginaw 16
The sun was a welcome sight upon the grounds of Walnut Grove as the Independents took the field against a very familiar opponent. It was on these very grounds nearly a year previous that Bay City was defeated by the Saginaw Old Golds in the Championship match of the World's Tournament, and those same Saginaws would be the ones barring the way of the Independents again. The Bay Citys did have reason for hope in this match, as they had been fortunate enough to take every contest since that Championship match from the Old Golds, and so it was with that hope that they sought to change their tournament fortunes on this day.
Fortune seemed to smile upon the Independents in the beginning of the match as they would win the coin toss, and elected to take the field. This would bring the Saginaws an opportunity to strike first in the match, and after losing their first hand in the innings, that is just what they did. John "Lumberjack" Piersall and Jason "Logger" Leppek each took their first, as Dennis "Vanilla Gorilla" Konuszewski came to the plate. In an effort to drive home Logger and Lumberjack
Konuszewsk,i a right handed striker, decided to make use of the short porch in the right field garden, and drove a howitzer on a line headed directly for the oxbow lake beyond the field. It was then that Alan "Kid" Garcia, the right fielder for the Bay Citys, extended his hand and snatched the hot drive in the air as easily as plucking an apple from the tree, and drew thunderous applause from the throngs lining the field. Now with two hands lost it seemed that Bay City might escape the innings unscathed, but John "Boozehound" Smith, the Saginaws right fields man had other ideas. Smith would drive home the other runners and make his first on a shot sent into the left field garden. Smith would then take his second by theft, but the innings would end when the Saginaws captain, Adam "Squints" McCauley lost his hand on a drive bottled by the Bay City left fields man.
Now down by two runs the Bay Citys took their turn at the stripe, and as is the norm Sean "Tanner" LeRoux, the Bay City short stop, led the way making his first and then making his way to third when Alan "Kid" Garcia drove him around with a safety of his own. Garcia would then take his second by theft putting runners on second and third for Brian "Butterfly" Beceril. Beceril would drive home LeRoux for Bay City's first run with a ground ball fielded by Nick "Brute" Hammond at third sack, that killed Butterfly at first. Jeff "Silverback" Rahl would then bring Garcia home for the tying run on a colossal clout to the long field that put the great ape on second, and successive smashes by Tom "Cat" LeRoux and Justin "Doc" Garcia brought Rahl to tally. LeRoux would also make his ace in the innings thanks to a safety by Jason "Buttons" McInerney, but the tally trolley would stop there for Bay City, and at the end of the first innings the Bay Citys had the lead at 4 to 2.
In the second innings Toby "Scoops" Larkin, the Saginaw short stop, would score the lone tally for the Old Golds to draw temporarily closer to the Bay Citys at 4 to 3. The Bay Citys however would pull away from the Saginaws in their second. After losing their lead hand in the innings the Independents second sacker, Jimmy "2 Quarts" Arnold would make his first, and move on to third on a howitzer sent to the tracks in right center field by the Bay City captain, Jayme "Cap" Johnson, that saw him make his second. Arnold would tally on an infield safety by Sean "Tanner" LeRoux, and Johnson would move on to third. LeRoux then took his second by theft putting runners on second and third for Alan "Kid" Garcia. Johnson would then make his ace on Garcia' second, successive safety of the match, which allowed LeRoux to move to third. Playing the points and following LeRoux's lead, Garcia then pilfered second. LeRoux would score on a deep fly ball sent into the center garden and bottled by the Saginaw fields man, Sonny "Hustler" Guerra, and Garcia would tally for the second time on another double smashed to the long field by Jeff "Silverback" Rahl. The scoring would end for the Bay Citys with runners at third and second when Guerra bottled his second sky ball of the innings. So now the tally read Bay City 8 and Saginaw 3.
The defense for both clubs would settle in and slap on a coat of whitewash in the third innings. The Saginaws would begin to mash their way back into the contest thanks to successive boundary busting shots beyond the tracks to allow "Logger" Leppek, and Konuszewski to make their seconds. Leppek would tally on the Vanilla Gorilla's clout, and the Gorilla would then tally thanks to "Boozehound" Smith's second safety of the contest. Smith would then make his second through thievery, and took his third on an infield safety by Toby "Scoops" Larkin. Larkin would have to earn the safety though, as the third sacker for Bay City, Justin "Doc" Garcia, in an effort to kill his hand nearly killed Larkin by placing his throw squarely on the Saginaw short stop's melon. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, and the two gents having played varsity ball together acknowledged no ill feelings or animosity. Larkin would get no further though, as his hand would be extinguished by a ground ball from the bat of Sonny "Hustler" Guerra.
The Bay Citys would get one run back in their fourth innings, but the Saginaws center fields man, Guerra would come up big for the Golds and limited the Independents damage. After losing their lead hand, the Bay City's Jimmy "2 Quarts" Arnold continued his hot hitting make his first. It was then that Guerra stepped to the fore for the first time in the fourth bottling a sky ball sent his way by the Bay City captain, who having success in the second innings with a similar smash tried again, but this time the "Hustler" had his number. Arnold seemingly abandoned at second with two hands down, would move to third on another "Tanner" LeRoux drive into the garden. LeRoux would thieve second, and Arnold would tally on a daisy-cutter from Alan "Kid" Garcia. Garcia would then steal his second, and thus the stage was set for more heroics from the "Hustler." Brian "Butterfly" Beceril strode to the plate hoping to bring his mates to tally and extend the Bay City lead and after seeing just the pitch he wanted he unloaded his lumber and sent the onion screaming into the center field. That's when Guerra turned tail and started chasing down the apple, and plucked it from the air while still on the move. The play brought another round of applause from the gallery, and perhaps saved the match for the Saginaws as the Butterfly's blast surely would have tallied two and perhaps three more runs for Bay City. As it was the match now stood at Bay City 9 and Saginaw 5.
After having won the innings for the Saginaws in the fourth Sonny "Hustler" Guerra opened the striking for the Golds in the fifth making his first for the first time in the match. Successive fly balls bottled by the Bay Citys appeared to strand Sonny until Chad "Shorty" Short made his second on a drive into the garden that drove home the Hustler. Short would then tally thanks to consecutive daisy cutters from the bats of Ryan "Britches" Dost and Matt "Rip" Shaner. The inning would end however when Dost's hand was killed while trying to thieve third. The Saginaws would skunk the Bay Citys in their fifth stranding a runner at second sack. At the end of the fifth Saginaw had drawn closer at 9 to 7.
Both clubs would slap on the whitewash in the sixth innings with the Bay Citys leaving yet another runner at third sack, and unable to tally. This set up the match for one of the most dramatic seventh innings ever played.
All matches played previous to the Championship match at the World's Tournament are played with a time constraint of one and one half hour. The umpire of the match, Mr. Francisco, noting the time-limit nearing warned each club that this, the seventh innings, would be the last inning of play. He no doubt had no idea of what would transpire next as the Saginaws, now down by 2 runs, would take to their task with the ferocity of a cornered beast. Jason "Logger" Leppek began the efforts with another Herculean clout that awarded him his first. Leppek would then make his third when Mr. Konuszewski sent his second extra base hit of the match sailing into the center garden. Leppek would tally thanks to a long fly ball from the bat of Boozehound Smith that was bottled by Tom "Cat" LeRoux. Now with one hand lost, and a runner at first the pressure was on as the Saginaws captain, Adam "Squints" McCauley came to the plate for the third time on the day. McCauley's hand had been killed on each of his first two at bats on a fly ball to left, and the Bay Citys were hoping their luck against the Captain would hold up again, but much like the fine competitor that he is McCauley came through in the clutch placing a single into the garden and moving the Gorilla to second sack. Then Scoops Larkin drove a howitzer into the garden that tallied Konuszweski and brought McCauley to third. As fate would have it, with the match now tied, who would come to the plate but the Hustler, whose fielding as mentioned earlier kept the match at the current mark. Seizing the moment at the plate, as he did in the field, the Hustler put his second safety into the garden and drove home McCauley and Larkin to give the lead to Saginaw for the first time in the match. Two of the next three hands would be lost in the innings, but not before Guerra tallied on a single sent up the stripe by Brandon "Bulldog" Diag. Now Saginaw held a three run lead heading into Bay Citys seventh.
Knowing that the match they had controlled for the entirety of the day was now in doubt, Bay City brought the top of their order to the mark, and as before Tanner LeRoux responded with a single. LeRoux's hand would be killed at first however on a ground ball from the bat of Alan "Kid" Garcia. So now with one hand dead, and a runner at first the Independents began their long climb back into the game, as the Butterfly would move Garcia to second with his first safety of the match. That brought up Jeff "Silverback" Rahl who had already made extra bases in two of his three at bats, and clearing his mind at the plate, he then cleared the previously occupied bases. Rahl would crush another double beyond the reach of the long fielders, and the speed and determination of the runners allowed Garcia to tally from second, and Beceril to tally from first. This put the Independents down one run, with a runner at second sack, and one hand lost.
Tom "Cat" LeRoux then came to the plate and drove a single into the long field. Having achieved a big lead at second sack, the Silverback decided to make a mad dash for home on the LeRoux daisy cutter. The crowd rose to it's feet as the long fielder for Saginaw launched a throw in the hopes of killing Rahl's hand at home. The ball, Rahl, and the Saginaw catcher all seemed on a collision course as the crowd held it's collective breath. The ball reached the catcher just as Rahl had passed him, and with all the balance of a ballerina the great ballist avoided the tag and tapped the plate for the tying run. The next striker, Justin "Doc" Garcia put another drive into the right garden, and moved LeRoux to third. Garcia would then take his second on theft, and the game seemed now to fall in place for the Bay Citys, with Dean "Sawmill" Koch advancing to the plate with one hand down and the winning run at third.
Emotions and excitement now abound for the Independents, and caught up in the moment leadership failed in it's duty to remind the base runners of the present situation, so when Koch sent a fly ball into the garden all were astounded to see the runners at third and second running home, heads down, and under the assumption that there were two, not one hands dead. The screaming and scrambling from the bench and on the base paths caused enough confusion for the fly ball to be bottled, and a throw back to second sack to be made. A close call that required extra thought from the Umpire killed the third hand at second sack, and ended the innings for Bay City.
The Saginaws would be skunked in the eighth innings, and so would the Independents, as they again left a runner at second sack. The Bay Citys luck looked to hold again in the ninth as the first two Saginaw strikers were killed in order, and that's when Logger Leppek placed his fourth apple beyond the rails to make his first. That brought Dennis "Vanilla Gorilla" Konuszewski up with two hands down. A balk was then called as Konuszewski shuffled his feet in the hopes of positioning himself to hit the ball over the right field rails. After more discussion the runner was allowed to move up to second sack. Konuszweski then accomplished his task by driving a high sky ball into the right field that dropped between two fields men, and moved Leppek to third. Then with two hands down Jon "Boozehound" Smith drove the ball into the long field and drove both base runners to tally. This would bring up Adam "Squints" McCauley, who again came through with his first extra base hit of the day tallying Smith and making his second. McCauley would then score from second on the fourth base hit of the day for Toby "Scoops" Larkin. Larkin would be left at second however, when the third hand was killed on a fierce line drive from Nick "Brute" Hammond that was held by Justin "Doc" Garcia.
Now down four runs the Bay Citys sent the bottom of the order to the plate, and Jimmy "2 Quarts" Arnold would not disappoint making his second on a howitzer into the left field. It was then that Jason "Logger" Leppek proved his worth in the field to be as valuable as it is at the plate, when the Bay City captain, Jayme "Cap" Johnson drilled a one hop daisy cutter that seemed destined for the right field that Leppek dove for, stopped and then ran to first to kill Johnson's hand. That play would be crucial as it killed the first hand of the innings for Bay City, and stopped what would have been runners at first and third with no outs. As it was the match stood with the runner at third, and one hand dead. Tanner LeRoux then came through with another garden gatherer that tallied Arnold from third. Alan "Kid" Garcia then came through with another muckle shot and now runners were at first and second. Garcia would be killed at second thanks to a ground ball from Beceril, and now there were two hands down, and runners at first and third. Beceril then took second by theft. This brought up the Silverback again who went to right field for a single, and drove home LeRoux for the second run in the innings. Tom "Cat" LeRoux then came through for Bay City with another safety which tallied Beceril, and moved Rahl to second. The crowd poised themselves for yet another fantastic finish as Justin "Doc" Garcia continued the two out striking with another daisy cutter into the right garden which loaded the bases with two hands down, but it was not to be as the contest would be closed on a deep ground ball to the short stop which was bobbled, but handled at second to kill the final hand.
Thus ended a mighty tussle that will no doubt be told of by all those in attendance for some time, and by all those who took part forever. The Bay Citys would load up and head home, but not before congratulating their opponents and singing their praises to the crowds. The Saginaws would spring from this match into the Championship where they defeated the Columbus Capitals, and won their second World's Tournament in a row. Bay City will now look forward to their fourth match with Saginaw on September 8th at Carroll Park. Make sure you're there, because if history says anything, then it should be a doozey!