Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nats take 15-14 swig of keystone lager

All-Stars find a home at second

View Point pitcher Nelson Drewien didn?t take part in last Wednesday?s All-Star game, but he was an All-Star pitcher for the tournament champions Sunday at West Ketchum Coliseum. Photo by Willy Cook

The Ketchum Coed Softball League All-Stars gave new meaning to the idea of getting to second base Wednesday during an exciting 45-hit, 29-run slugfest at Atkinson Park's West Ketchum Coliseum.

For the record, Francis Gilbo's National All-Stars rallied from 6-2, 10-6 and 13-10 deficits to edge Lenny Joseph's American All-Stars by a score of 15-14 over seven innings of countless clutch hits, outstanding defensive plays and more than a few cups of beer.

The noise level grew throughout the suds-soaked contest reminiscent of other West Ketchum Coliseum classics. The game was dominated by the offensive goal of reaching second base. That's where Linda McMahon stood in her glittery, sequined pants with hands full of cups of beer.

Don't think for a minute that the presence of the beer didn't affect how the game was played. After all, there were 16 doubles, two-baggers, hits where the players pulled into second base and were immediately rewarded. Going from first to third on a base hit was a rare thing, guaranteed to draw boos from the benches.

At one point, the fastest player on the field, Tommy Moreland of Stafftopia, motored out a double and was halfway along the baseline to third base, an easy triple. That's when he remembered his All-Star code-of-conduct responsibilities, applied the brakes and returned to second.

It was good to see Gilbo's countless years as a scorekeeper for the Ketchum Coed Softball League pay off. Managers Gilbo and Joseph picked their own teams and Gilbo's first choice, Sean Harrington of Kavanaugh Construction, responded in a big way in the three-hole.

Harrington (7 RBI) went 4-for-4 with a home run and three doubles. He led an awesome display of hitting power in the 3-4-5-6-7 positions of the Nationals batting order. Harrington, Sarah Benson, Keith Potter, Wendy Speth and Jeff Burrell went a combined 15-for-20 with 15 RBI.

And Harrington did the job on defense as well. As shortstop he was in the middle of a couple of nifty outfield relays that cut down American base runners Benji Hill and Lisa Valdama at third base, Keith Potter making the tags, in the first and third when the Americans were threatening to blow the game wide open.

Relief pitcher Harrington earned the Nationals save with two innings of one-hit, one-run work, yielding only a solo homer by losing pitcher Chris Hoshaw (3 hits, 2 HR, 3 RBI). Winning pitcher, third of four National hurlers, was Shannon Baker.

It looked like an American All-Star night in the early going.

With sluggers Matt Christian (2 doubles, 2 runs) of the Firefighters, the Casino's Matt Stacey (2 doubles, 3 runs) and Hoshaw of Color Haus, the AL took an early lead. Moreland launched a two-out, two-run homer for a 6-2 Americans cushion in the second. Hoshaw delivered a two-run homer in the fourth for a 10-6 lead.

The Nationals started their comeback in the visitor fifth on leadoff double by Buffalo Rixon (3 hits, 2 runs), a one-out double by Harrington and RBI hits by Potter (2 runs, 2 RBI), Speth (3 hits) and Burrell (3 hits, 3 RBI). Only the second great diving catch of the game by Americans shortstop Matt Stacey prevented more runs from scoring.

With the score tied 10-10, the Americans put together a nice, two-out rally in the home fifth. Stacey doubled, Valdama (2 hits) ripped the only triple of the game—no, she didn't stop at second—and Gary Anton (3 hits, 3 RBI) doubled. Cathy Baker followed with an RBI single for a 13-10 lead but was cut down at third on a clutch relay from Brenda Blackwell to Potter to Chris Benson.

Americans second baseman Anton had an unassisted double play starting the visitor sixth and it looked like the Nationals were in trouble. That's when the Nats rallied on two, kick-started by an opposite-field double off the bat of Steve McCoy (2 hits).

Kelly Havens moved big Steve along with an infield hit, Rixon singled and Blackwell (3 runs) reached on an infield error. It jammed the sacks for, you guessed it, Harrington.

Harrington emptied the bases with a three-run double for a 14-13 Nationals lead and scored on an RBI single by Sarah Benson (4 hits, 2 RBI). It was a wild play at the plate, Harrington sliding hard and taking the wind momentarily from brave Americans catcher Melinda Milner.

The Americans (20 hits) narrowed their deficit to 15-14 in the home sixth on Hoshaw's second homer but that's all they could manage. Meanwhile, Christian's diving catch in left field turned into a double play that kept the Nats (25 hits) from doing more damage in the seventh.

Other stars were Benji Hill (3-for-3, double) and Chris Benson (2 hits). Rounding out the Americans roster were Kristen Swenson, JonMarie Shaw and Molly Finegan, while Lacie Anderson played for the Nats.

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