Wednesday, August 3, 2011

YSA: Hounds Achieve Perfection

 After an undefeated regular season, it was time for the Hounds to take the field and claim their destiny as the best team in this Yorkville League. The setting was DeWitt Clinton Park on a warm and beautiful New York evening. The stage was set with an intense atmosphere as both teams had their own sets of supporters to cheer them on. We were facing the team from Amalgamated Bank, who we had dispatched pretty easily in the regular season. However, we knew that result would have little to do with the game at hand. After the pleasantries were exchanged between the two managers, it was time to play ball.

As the home team, we took to the field first behind our ace Juiena. In typical Hounds fashion, we had a rough first inning, surrendering a two-run home run on what should have been a single at best. We got out of the inning only down 2-0, and now it was time to for us to bat. MikePa and JT proceeded to get us started with back-to-back extra base hits. Iain drove JT in with a sac fly and just like that the score was tied. Over the next couple of innings both teams exchanged blows, and heading into the bottom of the 4th we were down 4-3. We never felt the game was beyond our each, and sure enough, in that 4th inning, we imposed our will. RBIs from Cap, Wink(2), and Mano, put us up 7-4 and we would never look back. Our defense settled down tremendously in the later innings and along with Juiena's masterful pitching, it was a deadly combination for Amalgamated. They showed no signs of being able to score while we added 2 in the 5th, Iain driving in MikePa with a double, and Dave driving in JT with a single. We were now in the driver's seat and with Juice in complete control, Amalgamated went out feebly in their last licks. Final Score: Hounds 9, Amalgamated 4.

WIth our place in the final sewn up, we waited for the other semi-final to wrap-up, and in an upset, the Bombers defeated Bloomberg to set up this final confrontation for all the marbles. Once again, we were the home team, an important advantage we had sewn up by virtue of having the best regular season record. Juiena of course got the start and this time, we had a much better 1st inning defensively, holding the Bombers scoreless. We then jumped to a 1-0 lead, with MikePa making an outstanding baserunning play, scoring from 2nd base on Iain's sac fly. The Bombers have some good hitters and they also employed the strategy of using some diminutive batters to make the strike zone tiny, but Juiena dealt with them well. We put on a defensive clinic, with JT, Mike, Wink, and Mano making all the plays and then some in the outfield, and the infield of Cap, Iain, C-Rod & Dave was sharp as well. We hardly made any mistakes, but our bats were quiet and we entered the bottom of the 4th down 3-1. 

Then we put together a small-ball rally in the 4th. JT, Dave, & Cindy all came through with doubles, and Pat hit an RBI single to put us ahead 4-3. The Bombers made a couple of critical errors and we took full advantage by being alert and ready to capitalize. By the later innings, the Bombers showed little threat to score, while we tacked on some huge insurance runs in the bottom of the 6th. Mike and JT led off with doubles, and were driven in on RBI hits from Iain and Dave. Now we were up by 3 entering the Bombers' last chance. Juiena got the first two batters easily, and when the last batter hit a fly ball in JT's direction, we knew victory was at hand. The ball landed in his glove like it always belonged there and a wild celebration ensued. The dream of the perfect season has become a reality. Final Score: Hounds 6, Bombers 3.

Congratulations to all of us on a great season! Our team showed tremendous heart all season, and we won the final with sheer grit and determination. We didn't hit any home runs in the playoffs, but we were able to get it done with small-ball, really heads-up baserunning, and outstanding defense. A perfect 14-0 record is something to be proud of, especially given that we really had to earn that flawless record. Savor this moment, Hounds...

Scoresheet(After the Jump)