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    Game 9: The Comeback Kids
    The Avengers fight off a 0-5 deficit to comeback and win in dramatic style in the seventh, outscoring Quinn’s Pub 8-7
    June 30, 2004

    Wolan, working on the batting line-up.  (Wolan)

    Once again, the Avengers were faced with a severe female player shortage and once again called upon the 11-year old Becky Read to play. After falling to a 0-5 deficit, the Avengers battled back to keep the game close. With a seventh inning rally and a career at bat for Rochelle, the Avengers came back to outscore Quinns Pub 8-7 in the lowest scoring game of the season.

    Game Summary

    Game 9 started in turmoil. Wolan was not in the ballpark at game time due to a stomach illness. Without a manager or the starting roster, and the umpire ordering the Avengers to take the field, the team was forced to make-up a fielding line-up on the spot. The team opted to go with the roster configuration from game 8, while making a few tweaks.

    With only three female players on hand and the 11-year old Becky Read an emergency player, the Avengers were unwilling to play another game with only 9 fielders. Just like in game 8, the Avengers played Becky Read in the game, but subbed a male player for Becky on the field for safely reasons. Becky Wandri, who was scheduled to play second, was moved to the floating fielder position while Jason entered the game in place of Becky Read and played second.

    Wolan finally arrive 5 minutes into the first inning to take the helm. After two innings of play, Quinns was able to hammer-out a 2-0 lead.

    At the top of the second inning, the manager of Quinn’s Pub protested the substitution of a male player for Becky Read. Wolan, totally not in the mood for an argument, calming explained that they were short on female players and had absolutely no chose but to play the 11-year old Becky Read in the line-up. He then emphasized that a male player was playing for her on the field for safety reasons. He concluded in noting that the same substitution was made two days ago in Game 8, with the entire incident recorded on the team’s website.

    Regardless, the manager threatened to protest the outcome of the game, claiming Becky was an ineligible player. The umpire noted to Wolan later on that her opinions did not reflect her teams view and that her team did not have a problem with Becky’s substitution on the field.

    The Avenger’s bats were muted in the first and second innings, as the only base runners they earned were from walks. Molloy picked-up his first walk of the season in the first, stating “I thought it was a 3-0 count, not a 3-1 count.” Three Avenger batters when down by the way of the “K” in those innings.

    Quinns Pub went to work immediately in the third hitting a single and then an inside-the-park homerun to start the inning. The third batter of the inning then slapped a single and later scored. With three runs in, a runner on second and only one out, the inning began looking pretty grim for GD-A. Luckily for GD-A, the team had a few tricks up their sleeves.

    The very next batter hit a ground ball to Eric McCormack. Eric tagged the runner and threw the ball to Harrison on first to get the double play. This double play turned out to be a pivotal moment for the team.

    Rochelle at bat with Molloy looking on at third.  (Wolan)

    Down 5-0 in the bottom of the third, the Avengers fought back and scored two runs on a Molloy triple. The Avengers left the bases loaded as Rochelle went down the way of the “K”.

    Quinns Pub got back one run, thanks an inside-the-park homerun by Levi . Good fielding made quick work of the other batters.

    Not to be outdone in terms of hitting, both “The Dean” and Eric McCormack got things going in the fourth by each hitting an inside the park homerun. Wolan contributes to the hit parade by outrunning a toss to first to earn an infield hit. He advanced to second a Rick Palma walk and easily scored on a hit up the middle by Lisa Read. After 4 innings, the Avengers had chipped away at Quinn Pub’s lead and was only down 6-5.

    Quinns Pub went down in order in fifth and sixth innings as Rick Palma pitched a 6 pitch fifth inning while the GD-A outfield continued to look strong, catching some hardhit flyballs. The Avengers were unable to capitalize on their good fielding, stranding two runners in the fifth and going down in order in the sixth. Wolan attempted to get something going in the sixth with 2 outs by batting from the opposite side of the plate. Unfortunately for Wolan, his switch-hitting debut ended with a strike-out as he fouls off a bad pitch into the dirt.

    In the seventh, Quinns got to a quick start with a leadoff single. By playing some smart softball, Quinns was able to advance the runner with an outfield fly ball, later scoring the runner on a double. However, the GD-A infield kept the scoring at bay and limited Quinns to just one run.

    Down 7-5, the Avengers were determined to make a comeback. With the line-up starting with the top of the order, it could not have come at a better place. The seventh started with an “intentional” walk of Rick Palma, which placed Rick Palma on second and Lisa Read at second. Molloy hit an infield pop fly to make the first out. Becky Wandrei worked the pitch count but fell behind and was forced to swing. She hit into a fielders choice that erased Palma at third.

    With two outs, Raymond Velez steps up to the plate and hits a screaming line drive to right field. The ball was hit right to a fielder who managed to catch the ball. However, because the ball was hit so hard, the fielder could not hang-on the ball and the ball was quickly ejected from her glove. Ray advanced to second on the play while Lisa Read scored, cutting Quinns lead to 1 run. Jason pitch ran for Ray because he hurt a leg muscle running to second.

    Rochelle at bat in the seventh.  (Wolan)

    With the tying run at third and the winning run at second, the next batter was Rochelle. Of all players to place the pressure of winning the game, Rochelle was the lucky player to win the draw. By working the pitch count, she managed to draw a walk and advanced to first to load the bases for “The Dean.” In dramatic style, Harrison belted the ball into right field to easily allow Becky and Jason to score. With the score 8-7 GD-A, the game should over. Right?

    On the play, all Rochelle needs to do is touch second base to prevent the force out at second and the play ends with GD-A on top, regardless of what happens afterwards. Unfortunately amongst all the excitement, Rochelle tripped near first base on the play while trying to run to second. Despite the fall, Rochelle was able to get up and advance safely to second because the outfielders were unable to get to the ball quick enough.

    With the game pretty much won, and in a whirl of miscommunication, Rochelle was told to proceed to third base. She managed to beat the throw to third base, but stepped off the bag and was tagged out. However, since the out was not a force out, the two scoring runs were counted as GD-A ended the game on top 8-7. Despite being behind for the entire game, the Avengers were able to chip away at Quinns lead and pull a victory in what was the lowest scoring game of the season.

    Instead of running the outfield with the game ball in hand, Wolan gave the game ball to a young fan after the game.

    Post-game news

    After the game, Wolan commented on how liberal and generous the umpire’s strike zone was for game 9. He goes on to report that such a strike zone encourages the guys to hit while making the game more interesting.

    Game 9 was also the final game for Eric McCormack. Eric, brother of Lisa Read, had come to the area from sunny California for the holiday. He played two sold games, which included a remarkable defensive game at third base in game 8. He also batted in 3 runs, which included a solo inside-the-park homerun in game 9.

    And finally, during game 9, the Avengers signs Madga and Derek Johnson to the team. Though their playing abilities are unknown, Wolan will need all the players he can get for the brutal game schedule at the end of the season.

    Game Photos | Fielding and Batting Line-Ups | GD-A Player Stats from Game 9 | Corbett Report for Game 9

    Andy Wolan is a reporter for MLSB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Softball or its clubs.